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Health Highlights: July 30, 2019


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

Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak Linked to Atlanta Hotel

Legionnaires' disease has been diagnosed in 11 people who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta, and there have been another 55 probable cases, Georgia health officials say.

Probable cases are people with symptoms of the bacterial infection, but no laboratory confirmation of the disease, CNN reported.

The 11 people with confirmed Legionnaire's disease attended a convention at the hotel a few weeks ago. No deaths have been reported. An investigation is underway but the source of the outbreak has not been found, said Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health.

The hotel closed July 15 and remains closed, the Georgia Department of Health said Monday, CNN reported.

Legionnaires' disease is a noncontagious form of pneumonia that affects 10,000 to 18,000 people in the United States each year, and about one in 10 who get the disease die, according to a recent government report.

The number of people with Legionnaires' disease increased nearly four-fold from 2000 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, CNN reported.

People can become sick when they breathe in mist or accidentally take water into their lungs that contains the disease-causing bacteria. It can be treated with antibiotics, according to the CDC.

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New Opioid Prescribing RulesComing for U.S. Employees' Health Plans

Tighter rules on opioid painkiller prescriptions for U.S. government employees will be implemented in the fall, the Trump Administration says.

The new Federal Employee Health Benefits Program rules are meant to prevent over-prescribing of the potentially addictive drugs to patients who might require them for only a short period of time, the Associated Press reported.

Patients with intractable pain from cancer and other conditions will still be able to get opioid painkillers.

Under the new rules, an initial prescription will be limited to 7 days instead of up to 30 days, and patients will be allowed up to three refills of 7 days apiece. Formal prescription re-authorization that involves consultation with a health professional will be required every 28 days, the AP reported.

The tighter plan restrictions on opioid painkillers were part of a White House briefing on drug policy held Monday.

The benefits program is the world's largest job-based health plan and includes about 9 million people, including workers, retirees and family members.

Several states have already restricted opioid prescriptions for their employees, the AP reported.

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Taco Seasoning Mixes Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella

Two types of taco seasoning mix have been recalled in the United States by Williams Foods LLC due to possible salmonella contamination.

The recall is for Great Value Mild Taco Seasoning Mix, 1 oz, UPC 0 78742 24572 0, Best if used by dates 07/08/21 and 0709/21 and for HEB Taco Seasoning Mix Reduced Sodium, 1.25 oz, UPC 0 41220 79609 0, Better by dates of 07/10/21, 07/11/21, and 07/15/21.

The mixes were sold in dozens of states. Consumers who bought the mixes should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. For more information, call Williams Foods at 1-800-847-5608.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. In healthy people, salmonella often causes fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

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Salmonella Fears Spur Recall of Pig Ear Dog Treats

Natural pig ear dog treats have been recalled by Lennox Intl Inc. due to possible salmonella contamination.

The products, shipped across the U.S. from May 1 to July 3, 2019, come in an 8-pack pouch with UPC 742174 995163 and 742174994166, or are individually shrink-wrapped with UPC 0385384810 and 742174P35107.

The New Jersey-based company said it's aware of two cases of illness in dogs associated with the recalled pig ears. Pets with salmonella infection may have decreased appetite, fever, abdominal pain, lethargy, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Pets that are infected with salmonella but appear healthy can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.

The pig ears also pose a risk of salmonella infection to people who handle them.

For more information, phone Lennox at 1-800-538-8980.

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$70 Million Settlement in Generic Drug Delay Case

Three drug companies will pay a total of nearly $70 million to California to settle charges of delaying the sale of generic drugs to keep brand name drug prices high, the state's attorney general said Monday.

Of that amount, $69 million will be paid by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and its affiliates for holding off on introducing the generic narcolepsy drug Provigil to the market for nearly six years, the Associated Press reported.

That's the largest pay-for-delay settlement paid to any state, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Another $760,000 settlement was reached with Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teikoku Pharma USA for withholding a generic version of the pain patch Lidoderm from the market for nearly two years, the AP reported.

In pay-to-delay deals, brand name drug makers pay generic drug makers to keep their cheaper version of the drug off the market for an agreed period of time, the AP reported.

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Experts Warn of Mosquito-Borne Brain Infection in Florida

There's an increased risk of a mosquito-borne virus that causes brain infection and swelling, Florida health officials warn.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been detected in several sentinel chickens, according to the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, CNN reported.

Sentinel chickens are tested regularly for the West Nile virus and EEE.

After the positive tests for EEE virus in the sentinel chickens in Orange Couty, the health department said "the risk of transmission to humans has increased," CNN reported.

Only about seven human cases of the EEE virus reported in the US each year. However, about one-third of people who contract it die, and many survivors have long-term neurological problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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