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Health Highlights: March 8, 2019


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

Mumps Outbreak at Temple University

Ten confirmed cases of mumps, six probable cases, and a case under investigation have been reported at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The university reported the first case of the contagious, vaccine-preventable disease on Feb. 28 but did not say how many people were infected, CNN reported.

The new update was provided by Christopher Vito, associate director of public relations at Temple.

Mumps is caused by a virus that's spread through saliva or mucus by coughing, sneezing or talking, sharing eating utensils or cups, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It can also spread when someone touches items or surfaces that have been touched by an infected person, CNN reported.

Swollen, tender glands under the ears are common among people with mumps, and other symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. But not all infected people develop symptoms.

There were more than 2,000 cases of mumps in the U.S. last year, and 58 cases were reported in January of this year, preliminary CDC data show, CNN reported.

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Monthly Shots Control HIV as Well as Daily Pills: Studies

Monthly shots of HIV drugs were as effective as daily pills in controlling the AIDS-causing virus, two studies show.

They included a total of nearly 1,200 people worldwide. Some were taking pills to treat their HIV infection while others hadn't yet started treatment. In the studies, half the patients took pills and half received the shots, the Associated Press reported.

After nearly a year, only 1 to 2 percent of patients in both studies had traces of HIV in their blood, whether they took pills or received shots.

The shots are a combination of two HIV drugs -- rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit, and ViiV Healthcare's experimental drug cabotegravir. ViiV Healthcare paid for the studies, the AP reported.

The drugmakers will seek approval for the shots in the United States and Europe. If approved, the shots would provide a new option that could help some people with HIV remain on treatment.

That's because instead of having to remember to take pills each day, patients could get shots from a doctor or nurse each month.

"Some people will be thrilled" at the convenience, Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS advocacy group AVAC, told the AP.

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Facebook Taking Steps to Counter Vaccine Misinformation

Facebook says new measures to counter misinformation about vaccinations will be introduced in the coming weeks.

First, it will lower the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in its News Feed and Search options, according to Monika Bickert, Facebook's vice president of global policy management, CNN reported.

"These Groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search," she said in a statement.

Bickert also said that when ads that include misinformation about vaccinations are found, "we will reject them," and ad accounts that continue to violate Facebook policies may be disabled.

However, personal accounts that post misinformation about vaccines won't be disabled, CNN reported.

Facebook is also "exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines," possibly by adding such information to inaccurate posts, Bickert said.

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Hall of Fame Pitcher Tom Seaver Has Dementia

Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has dementia and will no longer appear in public, his family said.

"The Seaver family announced today that Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has recently been diagnosed with dementia," the National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement Thursday, NBC News reported.

"Tom will continue to work in his beloved vineyard at his California home, but has chosen to completely retire from public life. The family is deeply appreciative of those who have supported Tom throughout his career, on and off the field, and who do so now by honoring his request for privacy."

Seaver, 74, won the National League's Rookie of the Year award in 1967, was a 12-time All-Star and received three Cy Young Awards. He won 311 games and lost 205 with the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, NBC News reported.

The right-hander was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992.

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Man Who Got Measles After Not Getting Vaccine as Child Warns Others of the Danger

A Chicago man who got the measles three years ago because he wasn't vaccinated as a child says parents have no excuse for not getting their children vaccinated.

Joshua Nerius, a 30-year-old software product manager in Chicago, contracted the measles in May 2016 at his sister's graduation from the Northern Illinois University College of Business, CNN reported.

Health officials later determined that a guest who had traveled to the graduation from outside the United States had the highly contagious disease.

Doctors asked Nerius if he'd been vaccinated against measles as a child. He didn't know, so he texted his mother, who replied with a thumbs-down emoji, CNN reported.

Nerius ended up in an isolation room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and at one point became so weak that he couldn't walk without assistance. He lost 25 pounds and it took months for him to fully recover.

"I felt horrible," he told CNN. "It took a serious toll."

His suffering, and that of children currently affected in measles outbreaks in the United States, could have been prevented, he emphasized.

"It makes me so angry. My parents thought they were doing the right thing. They were persuaded by the anti-vaxxers," he told CNN.

"The science on this has been settled. It's been solved. When I look at where we are today, with people who are willfully deciding to ignore the facts, it really frustrates me," Nerius said. "I just don't understand the mindset of people who want to spread fear."

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