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Health Highlights: Nov. 1, 2018


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

Sign-Up Season Begins on HealthCare.gov

The federal government website where Americans can sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is up and running, officials said Thursday morning.

Before HealthCare.gov went live for the sixth sign-up season, it had to be updated with thousands of changes in plans and premiums, the Associated Press reported.

"Prior to every open enrollment, final preparations must take place ahead of the start of the open enrollment period to ensure the website runs smoothly for consumers," said a statement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Nationally, average premiums for 2019 are limited to low single-digit percentages, but premiums will decrease in some states and for some types of plans, the AP reported.

Insurers are expanding their participation in the program.

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Second High Blood Pressure Drug Recalled Due to Contamination

Another high blood pressure drug is being recalled due to contamination that could pose a cancer risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Certain lots of irbesartan are being recalled by SciGen because they contain an industrial chemical that's a suspected carcinogen, CNN reported.

The recalled drugs have "Westminster Pharmaceuticals" and "GSMS Inc." on the label.

Another heart drug, valsartan, was recalled recently due to contamination with possible cancer-causing chemicals, CNN reported.

Not all medicines that contain valsartan or irbesartan are being recalled. The new recall covers only about 1 percent of irbesartan drug products available in the United States, according to the FDA.

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Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey Dies at Age 80

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey died Wednesday at age 80.

He died "peacefully" after battling "ongoing health issues," according to the San Francisco Giants, ESPN reported.

McCovey, who retired in 1980, played 19 of his 22 seasons with the Giants. On Wednesday, the team paid tribute to the six-time All-Star first baseman by flying the flags at AT&T Park at half-staff.

In his career, McCovey had a .270 batting average, 521 home runs and 1,555 RBIs, ESPN reported.

"San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken," Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. "Willie was a beloved figure throughout his playing days and in retirement. He will be deeply missed by the many people he touched."

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10th Child Dies in Adenovirus Outbreak at N.J. Facility

A 10th child has died in an adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, N.J., the state health department said Thursday.

It said that at least 27 children at the center have become ill, CNN reported.

"To date, the individuals associated with the outbreak became ill between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29," according to the health department. "The affected children had severely compromised immune systems -- including respiratory problems -- before the outbreak began."

Adenovirus occur on on unclean surfaces and medical instruments, and common disinfectants may not remove them, CNN reported.

They rarely cause serious problems in healthy people, but those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adenovirus illness is common in places where there are many children, including schools, child care centers and summer camps, CNN reported.

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