Health Highlights: Aug. 31, 2018

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

Ground Chuck Products Recalled by Publix Super Markets

Possible E. coli contamination has triggered the recall of ground beef products made from chuck that were sold at Publix Super Markets in Florida.

The products were bought by consumers between June 25 and July 31, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said.

Officials have identified 18 cases of E. coli O26-caused illness that began between July 5 and July 25. All of the patients ate ground chuck products bought at various Publix Super Markets. Most of the patients were in Florida.

The supplier of the ground chuck products has yet to be determined, and the investigation is continuing, FSIS said.

The agency said it’s concerned that some of these recalled products may be in people’s freezers. Consumers with these products should be throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Most people infected with E. coli O26 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Most people recover within a week, but some develop a more severe infection, FSIS said.


Drinking Water Turned Off in All Detroit’s Public Schools

Due to elevated levels of lead or copper in drinking water at some schools, drinking water being turned off in all of Detroit’s public schools.

Students will use bottled water and water coolers when they return to school Tuesday, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in statement Wednesday, CNN reported.

Recent tests revealed “higher than acceptable levels … (of) copper and/or lead” in at least one water source — such as a fountain or sink — at 16 of 24 schools, he said.

There is no evidence of elevated levels of lead or copper at more than 50 other schools, but officials are waiting for test results from those schools, Vitti said.

Drinking water was already shut off at 18 other schools because of previously identified problems with water quality, Vitti said.

“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools,” Vitti said, CNN reported.


China Withholding H7N9 Bird Flu Virus Samples From U.S.

Chinese officials have not sent lab samples of H7N9 bird flu virus to their U.S. counterparts despite repeated requests and an international agreement.

U.S. officials say the specimens of the rapidly evolving virus are needed to develop vaccines and treatments, The New York Times reported.

The Chinese government has withheld lab samples of the H7N9 virus for over a year. In the past, World Health Organization rules made such exchanges mostly routine.

“Jeopardizing U.S. access to foreign pathogens and therapies to counter them undermines our nation’s ability to protect against infections which can spread globally within days,” Dr. Michael Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School, told The Times.

The next worldwide pandemic is likely to arise from a flu virus, and the H7N9 virus is one of the potential sources, experts believe.

H7N9 took hold in China in 2013. It has spread through poultry farms and evolved into a highly dangerous strain that can infect humans. Forty percent of patients have died, The Times reported.

Just over a year ago, there was an outbreak of H7N9 infections in Asia, and most of the 766 reported cases occurred in China.

The Chinese embassy in Washington and the Chinese Center For Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to requests for comment about the transfer of H7N9 virus samples to the U.S., The Times reported.

Posted: August 2018

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