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Health Highlights: April 13, 2017


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

California School Vaccination Rate Rises Under New Law

A requirement that nearly all public school children be immunized has led to the highest school vaccination rate in California since 2001.

Nearly 96 percent of this year's kindergartner's have received all the required vaccines, according to recently-released state data, the Washington Post reported.

That rate is nearly three percent higher than the previous school year, about 5 percent higher than the 2014-15 school year, the highest since the 2001-02 school year, and above the level that experts say is required to prevent measles transmission.

The law mandating immunization was passed after a 2014-2015 measles outbreak in Disneyland. Students in the 2016-17 school year were the first to be covered by the law, which abolished the personal-belief exemption, the Post reported.

The new law was authored by pediatrician Richard Pan.

"This success is a first step toward reducing the number of unimmunized people putting our families at risk for preventable diseases, thereby restoring community immunity throughout our state in the coming years," he said, the Post reported.

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Water-Absorbing Easter Toys Recalled by Target

About 560,000 water-absorbing Easter and Dino toys are being recalled in the United States by Target because they pose a potentially deadly threat to children.

The recall is for Hatch & Grow Easter Eggs, Easter Grow Toys, model number 234-25-1200, and Hatch Your Own Dino, model number 234-09-0016.

If a child swallows one of the toys, it can expand and cause an intestinal obstruction that can cause severe discomfort, vomiting, dehydration and be life threatening. Surgery is required to remove the toy, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

It also said that healthcare providers and parents need to be aware that if swallowed, these toys might not show up on an X-ray.

No injuries linked to the recalled toys have been reported, according the CPSC.

Consumers with the toys should take them away from children and return them to any Target store for a full refund. For more information, call Target at 800- 440-0680.

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Bill Legalizing Recreational Pot Use Introduced by Canadian Government

Legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has been introduced by the Canadian government.

It's expected to pass and would make Canada the second nation, after Uruguay, to completely legalize marijuana as a consumer product, The New York Times reported.

Many details need to be finalized before legal sales of marijuana can begin. Marijuana equivalents of breathalyzers and a blood alcohol standard will have to be developed so that drivers can be checked for impairment and workers can be tested for safety on the job.

Each of Canada's provinces will have to determine how the drug will be distributed and sold within their boundaries, and conflicts with international drug treaties will have to be resolved, The Times reported.

The bill requires buyers of marijuana to be at least 18 years old, but provinces can set higher minimum ages, and limits the amount people can carry to about an ounce. Households will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants.

Eight American states have legalized marijuana to various degrees, but the drug is still illegal under federal law, The Times reported.

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Lawsuit Seeks Removal of Processed Meats From L.A. Schools

The Los Angeles school district should not be allowed to serve hot dogs and other processed meats to students because those products increase the risk of cancer, according to a lawsuit filed this week by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group is seeking a similar ban for the Poway school district in San Diego County, the Associated Press reported.

The suit, which names both school districts and the California Department of Education, states there is a "recognized association between eating processed meats ... and developing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease."

The Los Angeles district is the second-largest in the United States and has more than 660,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The district has not received the complaint, but will review it if and when it does, spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry said in an email to the AP.

The lawsuit is a publicity stunt, according to the North American Meat Institute, an industry group.

"We stand by the nutrition benefits that meat -- both fresh and processed -- provide for growing children" spokeswoman Janet Riley told the AP.

Last month, the Physicians Committee sent a petition asking Amtrak to remove processed meats from its menus.

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Concussion Risk a Factor for Parents When Choosing Children's Sports: Survey

Some American parents won't allow their children to play any sports or restrict them to certain sports due to fears about concussion, a new survey finds.

It included 1,000 parents who were asked if they'd let their youngsters play sports given the risk of concussion, CBS News reported.

Sixteen percent of respondents said no to all sports, 51 percent said yes to all sports, and more than a third said it would depend on the sport. In the latter group of parents, 66 percent said they'd give the okay for basketball, 63 percent for baseball, 57 percent for soccer, 47 percent for gymnastics, and 36 percent for cheerleading, according to the survey released by the American Osteopathic Association.

Among the parents who said they'd make decisions based on specific sports, only 6 percent would give permission for rugby, 12 percent for ice hockey, 16 percent for field hockey, 17 percent for lacrosse, 18 percent for football and 18 percent for wrestling, CBS News reported.

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Texas Has Highest Number of Mumps Cases in 22 Years

Texas health officials are investigating multiple outbreaks of mumps in the state, which is seeing the highest number of cases of the disease in 22 years.

One of the outbreaks involves South Padre Island. As of April 13, the Texas Department of State Health Services had been notified of 13 mumps cases in people who traveled to South Padre Island between March 8 and March 22 from six states, including two people from Texas.

Symptoms of mumps include swelling of the salivary glands preceded by a low-grade fever, muscle pain, malaise, or headache.

Mumps is highly contagious and is transmitted between people by saliva or respiratory droplets. It's typically 16-18 days (a range of 12-25 days) from exposure to the onset of salivary gland swelling. People are contagious from 3 days before to 5 days after the start of salivary gland swelling.

Up to 20 percent of people infected with the mumps may have no symptoms, according to Texas state health officials.

Complications are rare and usually mild, but can include deafness, pancreatitis, oophoritis, meningitis, and encephalitis.

People who might have the mumps should stay home from work, school, daycare, and any public outings until five days have passed since the start of symptoms. People with close contact to those suspected to have mumps should watch for signs and symptoms of mumps for up to 25 days after the last contact.

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