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Health Highlights: March 7, 2018

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

Pet Guinea Pigs Likely Cause of Multistate Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Pet guinea pigs are the likely cause of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nine people in eight states, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The first illness was reported on July 17, 2015 and the last one on Dec. 15, 2017. One person was hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Even though the last illness was reported late last year, more people could get sick if they're not aware of the risks posed by pet guinea pigs, even if they appear healthy and clean, the CDC said.

Always wash your hands after touching, feeding, caring for, or cleaning the habitats of guinea pigs and other pet rodents, which are not recommended as pets for children younger than 5 years old, and should not be kept in childcare centers or schools with young children.

Salmonella infection can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Illness typically lasts 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment. But in some people, diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is required, the CDC said.

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White House Wants to Improve Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records

An effort to make it easier for patients to use electronic medical records was announced Tuesday by the Trump administration.

No time frame was given for the undertaking, which would include eventually enabling nearly 60 million Medicare beneficiaries to securely access claims data and share it information with their doctors, the Associated Press reported.

While electronic medical records were touted as a great advance, they're widely seen to have fallen short of expectations.

So far, the federal government has spent about $30 billion to get hospitals and doctors to use electronic medical records. It's unclear how much difference this new effort will make, the AP reported.

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Posted: March 2018

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