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Health Highlights: Oct. 3, 2019


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

U.S. Will Keep Measles Elimination Status

Despite recent outbreaks among unvaccinated people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the U.S. will maintain its measles elimination status.

The New York State Department of Health said Thursday that it's been more than 42 days since and new cases of measles, linked to last October's outbreak, have been reported in New York's Sullivan and Orange counties, and outbreaks in Rockland County and New York City have also subsided, CNN. reported.

"However, this outbreak is a grave reminder that we need heightened vigilance around measles as well as other vaccine preventable diseases, and we continue to address the myths and misinformation driving these outbreaks. CDC continues to encourage parents to speak with their family's health care provider about the importance of vaccination. We also encourage local leaders to provide accurate, scientific-based information to counter misinformation. Vaccines remain the most powerful tool to preserve health and to save lives," the CDC said in a statement.

The measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, which means it was no longer endemic in the country, CNN said.

That status can be taken away by the World Health Organization when measles has been spreading continuously for a year. The U.S. would lose face if elimination status was removed, public health experts have said.

In 2019, 1,243 cases of measles in 31 states were reported to the CDC. Most of these cases occurred in New York among people not vaccinated against the disease. It's the highest number of cases since 1992, CNN said.

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Federal Judge Rules Drug Injection Sites Don't Break Drug Laws

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled that injection sites where addicts can safely use illicit drugs do not violate federal drug laws.

The ruling involves a proposed "safe house" in Philadelphia -- a clinic where addicts can go to take their drugs in the privacy of a partitioned bay. Help is also available on premises in case of an overdose, as well as drug and treatment and counseling, according to the Associated Press.

According to the judge's decision, drug laws passed by Congress in the 1980s don't cover these types of injection sites.

The case against the site was brought by U.S. Attorney William McSwain, an appointee of President Trump. McSwain called the goal of these sites "laudable" but said supporters were misguided, the AP reported.

However Democrats -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell -- all support the sites, saying they could help reduce the 1,100 overdose deaths that occur in Philadelphia each year and help addicts get treatment.

The Justice Department will most likely appeal the ruling. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement that, "any attempt to open illicit drug injection sites in other jurisdictions while this case is pending will continue to be met with immediate action by the department."

Safe injection sites are already operating in Canada and Europe. Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., are also considering adopting them, the AP reports.

"It's a better option than having people die in streets and alleyways and fields. And it will also help the community," Debbie Howland of Drexel Hill, Pa., who lost a daughter to an overdose death last year, told the AP.

However, neighborhood groups and city council members who represent the area are against the plan and pledged to continue to fight it.

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