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Health Highlights: Aug. 8, 2018

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

Legal Settlement Reached in Massive Methane Leak

Southern California Gas Co. has reached a nearly $120 million proposed legal settlement over a massive methane leak at a Southern California storage field a few years ago.

The leak, which began in October 2015 and lasted nearly four months, was the single largest release of methane in U.S. history, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

There were a large number of health complaints and thousands of people had to leave their homes.

The settlement, which requires court approval, would see SoCalGas reimburse local, county and state governments for costs associated with the leak, the AP reported.

The utility would also fund local environmental projects and create a program with the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak.


Measles Case Reported in Minnesota

A Somali-American child in Minnesota has been diagnosed with the measles after returning from a trip to Africa, state health officials said Tuesday.

They added that the unidentified 5-year-old in Hennepin County was not vaccinated, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

A 2017 measles outbreak in Minnesota infected 75 children and adults, the largest such outbreak in the state in about three decades. Most of the patients were Somali-Americans in Hennepin County who not been vaccinated against the highly contagious disease that can be spread by coughs and sneezes.

Measles vaccination rates in that community are about half the statewide rate, according to health officials.

"We want to make sure that they are getting vaccinated, otherwise we have the potential to revisit what happened just over a year ago," Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease division director at the Minnesota Health Department, told the Star Tribune.

In the 2017 outbreak, the first case went undetected for about two weeks, but this new case was caught fairly early. The child was infectious for about eight days, beginning July 30, health officials said.

The child was hospitalized and released. Patients and staff at a medical clinic and hospital that treated the child are being notified about the case, the Star Tribune reported.


New Tick Species Spreading in U.S.

The first new tick species to appear in the United States in 50 years is spreading rapidly in the East and has been confirmed in seven states and the suburbs of New York City.

In it's home range, the Asian long-horned tick carries a virus that kills 15 percent of its victims, but it is considered a greater threat to livestock than to humans, The New York Times reported Monday.

U.S. public health experts say they are concerned, but not alarmed, by the presence of the long-horned tick, which is known in Australia as the bush tick and in New Zealand as the cattle tick.

The ticks can reproduce rapidly and suck so much blood from a young animal that it dies, the Times reported.

In the United States, the first long-horned tick was found last summer in western New Jersey. Since then, they've been found in Bergen, Essex and Middlesex counties in that state, in New York's Westchester County, and in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The ticks were found feeding on horses, dogs, deer, a calf, a sheep and an opossum. They do feed on humans, but experts say you can protect yourself by following the same measures to guard against domestic ticks, such as using repellents and checking for ticks after walking through woods or tall grass, the newspaper reported.

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