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Health Highlights: August 1, 2018


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

Trump's New Short-Term Health Plans Have Big Coverage Gaps

There are large coverage gaps in short-term health plans that were approved Wednesday by the Trump administration, and are described by critics as "junk insurance."

The plans are meant to be a low-cost alternative to Obama-era plans with high premiums, but they don't have to cover existing medical conditions and provide limited benefits, the Associated Press reported.

"For many who've got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Fox & Friends. "We're just providing more options."

The plans can last up to 12 months and be renewed for up to 36 months, but there's no federal guarantee of renewability. A disclaimer with the plans states that they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements and safeguards, the AP reported.

"The broader availability and longer duration of slimmed-down policies that do not provide comprehensive coverage has the potential to harm consumers, both by making comprehensive coverage more expensive and by leaving some consumers unaware of the risks of these policies," said Justine Handelman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said his party will "do everything in our power" to block the Trump plans, but it wasn't immediately clear how they might do that, the AP reported.

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Second Pro Baseball Player Contracts Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

A second pro baseball player has been diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease.

New York Yankee pitcher J.A. Happ was sent home from Yankee Stadium before the start of a game on Tuesday, USA Today reported.

It's a mild case, according to Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman. It's unclear how Happ contracted the extremely contagious virus that most commonly occurs in young children and can cause fever and sores or rashes on the hands, feet, mouth and/or throat.

Previously, the disease was diagnosed in Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets, who played at Yankee Stadium nine days before. It's believed that Syndergaard may have picked up the virus while working at a children's camp during the All-Star break, USA Today reported.

Happ "doesn't have any idea" how he picked up the virus, Cashman said. "He flew commercially from the midwest to here, so I don't know if it's possible that something on the way happened. No one is going to really have an answer to it other than just guessing."

"It's a very mild case and our internist felt that if everything is the way it is, he probably will be able to go on Saturday," Cashman said. "But it's to be determined. We're taking the necessary precautions, but first and foremost we're doing what's best for J.A. Happ."

Other than typical precautions such as hand-washing and using hand sanitizer, there's little that teams can do to prevent future cases, USA Today reported.

"Once we get a feel for it we'll get a lot more hand sanitizers," Cashman said. "But essentially, there is no treatment. You just let the virus take its course."

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Man's Legs, Hands Amputated After Infection Caused by Bacteria in Dog Saliva

A Wisconsin man had his lower legs and hands amputated after developing a rare blood infection caused by bacteria in dog saliva.

He first developed flu-like symptoms such as fever and vomiting. By the next morning, his temperature had soared and he was delirious. After his wife rushed him to the hospital, she noticed his body was covered in bruises, as if he'd been beaten with a baseball bat, the Washington Post reported.

Within a week, Manteufel's legs were amputated from the knees down. Then doctors had to remove his hands.

Doctors diagnosed Manteufel with a rare blood infection caused by bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus that's commonly found in the saliva of most healthy dogs and is usually not harmful to humans, the Post reported.

But in Manteufel's case, the bacteria got into his bloodstream, triggering blood poisoning (sepsis). The bruises on his body were actually blood spots caused by the sepsis.

Manteufel was given antibiotics to fight the infection, but clots blocked blood flow to his extremities, resulting in tissue and muscle death and the need to amputate his legs and hands in order to save his life, the Post reported.

Greg Manteufel loves dogs and had been around eight of them about the time he became ill, according to his wife Dawn Manteufel. It's not clear which dog was carrying the bacteria.

She told the Post that doctors said her husband's case was a "crazy fluke."

Greg Manteufel has been at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for about a month. He recently had surgery to remove dead tissue and muscle from his leg amputations. This week, he will have two more surgeries to remove dead tissue, the Post reported.

He may also require nose reconstruction surgery because lack of blood flow caused it to turn black, his wife said.

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