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Health Highlights: July 18, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Drug OD Deaths Fall for First Time in Three Decades

For the first time in three decades, drug overdose deaths in the United States fell last year, preliminary federal government data suggests.

Provisional numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths in 2018, and the agency expects that even if the final confirmed number is higher, it will be below 69,000, the Associated Press reported.

Overdose deaths have risen each year since 1990, reaching a peak of 70,000 in 2017.

The reason for the decline in 2018 was fewer deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers, but there were continuing increases in overdose deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine and psychostimulants like methamphetamines, the AP reported.

While a decline or stabilization in overdose deaths would be welcomed, the U.S. drug overdose death rate remains about seven times higher than a generation ago.

"We're still in a pretty sad situation that we need to address," Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan researcher, told the AP.

The current drug overdose crisis in the U.S. has been the deadliest in the nation's history, with overdose deaths increasing by 5,000 or more a year from 2014 to 2017.

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Ground Bison Linked to E. Coli Outbreak in 7 States: CDC

An E. coli outbreak in the United States that's linked to ground bison produced by Northfork Bison Distributions, Inc. of Canada is being investigated by federal and state officials.

There have been 21 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O103 and O121 infections in seven states (CT, FL, MI, MO, NJ, NY, PA) and eight people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No deaths have been reported.

On July 16, 2019, Northfork Bison Distributions recalled ground bison produced between February 22, 2019, and April 30, 2019. It was sold to distributors as ground bison and bison patties, referred to as Bison Burgers and/or Buffalo Burgers. Recalled ground bison was also sold to retailers in 4-ounce burger patties, the CDC said.

People get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli an average of 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people get diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach cramps, and vomiting.

While most people recover within a week, some illnesses can last longer and be more severe, the CDC said.

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Posted: July 2019

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