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Health Highlights: June 10, 2016

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

WHO Advises Delaying Pregnancy in Zika-Affected Areas

In order to avoid having babies with Zika-caused birth defects, women living in areas where the virus is circulating should consider delaying pregnancy, the World Health Organization says.

Zika transmission is occurring or expected in 46 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Currently, the only parts of the United States with local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus are Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, but cases are expected to appear in Florida and along the Gulf Coast this summer, The New York Times reported.

Five countries and the health secretary of Puerto Rico have issued similar advice about delaying pregnancy.

However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided against this kind of recommendation, saying government health officials should not interfere with personal decisions best made by couples, The Times reported.

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CDC Warns About Lethal Racing Fuel/Soft Drink Mixture

Some teens are putting their lives at risk by drinking a mixture of racing fuel and soft drinks to get drunk, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

A new CDC report describes the deaths of two 16-year-old boys in Tennessee who died after drinking the mixture at a party, and two other teens who also drank the concoction but survived, CBS News reported.

They drank racing fuel mixed with Mountain Dew to make what is called Dewshine, according to the Tennessee Poison Center, which first investigated the deaths in January.

Racing fuel is nearly 100 percent methanol, and as little as 1 tablespoon of methanol can be deadly, CBS News reported.

These are the first reported deaths in the U.S. caused by a racing fuel/soft drink mixture.

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FDA Takes Action Against Illegal Online Drug Sellers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took action this week against thousands of websites that illegally sell unapproved and potentially dangerous prescription drugs to Americans.

The move was part of an Interpol-led effort called Operation Pangea IX that included regulatory and law enforcement agencies in other countries. The operation targeted the unlawful online sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit medical products.

The FDA sent formal complaints to domain registrars requesting the suspension of 4,402 websites, including 110 that sell the chemical 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) as a weight-loss product. DNP is widely used as a dye, wood preserver, and herbicide and does not have FDA approval for use as a drug.

A person in Rhode Island died in October 2013 after taking DNP.

The FDA also issued warning letters to 53 websites illegally offering unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs to Americans. Along with other federal agencies, the FDA also conducted screenings at International Mail Facilities in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, seizing 797 potentially illegal drug products to treat a wide range of conditions, including depression, narcolepsy, high cholesterol, glaucoma, and asthma.

"Preventing illegal internet sales of dangerous unapproved drugs is critical to protecting consumers' health," George Karavetsos, director of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, said in an agency news release.

Along with potential health threats, illegal online pharmacies pose other risks such as credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses, the FDA warned.

Posted: June 2016


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