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Health Highlights: Jan. 12, 2021

Below are newsworthy items compiled by the HealthDay staff:


Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Have Coronavirus

Eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park that tested positive for the new coronavirus are being closely monitored and given vitamins, fluid and food, park officials said Monday.

These are the first known cases of coronavirus infection among gorillas in the United States, and possibly the world, according to the Associated Press.

It appears that the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic member of the park's wildlife team who wore a mask while working, said the park's executive director, Lisa Peterson.

"Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well," she told the AP.

The park tested feces of the troop of gorillas after two apes began coughing Jan. 6, the AP reported. Positive test results were confirmed by the U.S Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in three gorillas. Feces from all eight in the troop are being taken for testing, the AP reported.

Zoo officials said they are talking to experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans, in case the animals develop more severe symptoms. They will remain together since separating them could be harmful to the gorillas, because they live in tight-knit groups.

"This is wildlife, and they have their own resiliency and can heal differently than we do," Peterson said.


Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise

Drug maker Eli Lilly on Monday announced promising results from a small study of an experimental Alzheimer's drug called donanemab.

The two-year, Phase 2 clinical trial included 272 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's symptoms. The company said that patients who received the drug by infusion every four weeks had a 32% slower rate of mental decline than those who were given a placebo, The New York Times reported.

After six to 12 months of treatment with the drug, patients no longer had amyloid protein plaques that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, according to Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, the company's chief scientific officer.

However, the findings haven't been reviewed by other researchers and have not been published in any form, the Times reported.

The main side effect was one often seen in patients who take experimental monoclonal antibodies to treat Alzheimer's: an accumulation of fluid in the brain, the AP reported. It occurred in close to 30 percent of patients, Skovronsky said, but most had no symptoms. The effect was seen on brain scans.

The trial findings need to be replicated, Dr. Michael Weiner, a leading Alzheimer's researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Times.

Even so, "this is big news" and "holds out hope for patients and their families," Weiner told the newspaper.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

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