||Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00
Health Highlights: Sept. 28, 2006
* ADHD Drug Use a Family Affair: Study
* MS Drug Helps Prevent Relapses
* Bird Flu Virus Able to Mutate
* Most Uninsured U.S. Children Have Working Parents
* Group Studies Link Between TV Ads, Childhood Obesity
* New Anthrax Vaccine Shows Promise
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
ADHD Drug Use a Family Affair: Study
Taking attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs seems to be a family affair in the United States, according to an analysis of prescription claims filed in 2005 for more than 107,000 children ages 5 to 19 and their parents.
The study found that parents of children on ADHD drugs were nine times more likely than other parents to be taking the drugs themselves, the Associated Press reported. It's long been recognized that ADHD runs in families.
The study was conducted by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. Among the other findings:
* In families where a parent and child both started taking ADHD drugs last year, the parent started taking the drug first nearly 50 percent of the time.
* Among children taking ADHD drugs, 7 percent had a parent also using such drugs.
* The average age at which children started taking ADHD drugs was 13 for children and 43 for adults.
The study also found that mothers accounted for 60 percent of cases where a parent and child started taking ADHD drugs last year, even though ADHD is two to three times more common in males.
The explanation is that more women are being examined for attention-deficit problems, one expert told the AP.
MS Drug Helps Prevent Relapses
An investigational multiple sclerosis (MS) drug called FTY720 appears effective in preventing disease relapse, according to mid-stage clinical trial results released Thursday by the company that developed the drug.
The study showed that 77 percent of MS patients who received the drug were free of relapses for more than two years and more than 80 percent of them were found not to have active inflammation, the Associated Press reported.
It also found that patients who received a placebo during the first six months of the study showed marked improvement after being switched to FTY720 and that improvement was sustained through to end of the second year of the study.
The data was released by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., the U.S. unit of Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, the AP reported. The drug is currently being tested in late-stage clinical trials.
Bird Flu Virus Able to Mutate
The H5N1 bird flu virus is showing indications of being able to mutate and develop resistance to anti-viral drugs and potential vaccines, a World Health Organization (WHO) scientist said Thursday.
Mike Perdue, a team leader with WHO's influenza program, said that the H5N1 virus is splitting into genetically different groups, the Associated Press reported. He took part in a two-day bird flu conference earlier this week.
Scientists have yet to develop a vaccine against the H5N1 virus but are confident they'll be able to do so. However, Perdue said that will be more difficult if the H5N1 virus can mutate as seasonal flu viruses are known to do.
"We are going to have to come to the realization that these viruses are genetically variable. The vaccines that we have predicted to be protective today may not be protective a year from now," Perdue said.
He also said that there have been cases of H5N1 resistance to the two most effective anti-viral drugs -- Tamiflu and amantadine -- used to fight the virus, the AP reported.
In related news, Indonesian officials said Thursday that they've ruled out human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus in a case involving two brothers and a sister. Both brothers died.
One brother was diagnosed with H5N1. The other brother had H5N1-like symptoms before he died, but was buried before any test samples were collected. It's believed both brothers caught the virus from the same source, Agence France Presse reported.
The sister was diagnosed with ordinary influenza, health officials said.
Most Uninsured U.S. Children Have Working Parents
The majority (about 88.3 percent) of the 9 million U.S. children with no health insurance coverage live in homes with at least one working parent, concludes a report being released Thursday by the group Families USA, which promotes universal health coverage.
The report also found that 70 percent of uninsured children age 18 and under live in homes where a parent works full-time throughout the year, the Associated Press reported.
Families USA said the findings contradict the stereotype that many people have about those who don't have health insurance.
"I think they believe these are low-income people who don't work, who are very different from themselves," Ron Pollack, the group's executive director, told the AP.
But many of the uninsured are "people who work, who are doing the right thing," Pollack said.
The report said the five states with the highest rates of uninsured children are: Texas, 20.4 percent; Florida, 17 percent; New Mexico, 16.7 percent; Nevada; 16.4 percent; and Montana, 16.2 percent.
The states with the lowest rates of uninsured children include: Vermont, 5.6 percent; and Hawaii, Michigan, and New Hampshire at 6.4 percent. The U.S. national average is 11.6 percent, the AP reported.
The Families USA study noted that about two-thirds of uninsured families would qualify for government-sponsored coverage of their children if the parents applied for it. However, many parents don't know about this assistance and the enrollment process is cumbersome, Pollack said.
Group Studies Link Between TV Ads, Childhood Obesity
The link between television ads, youngster's viewing habits, and rising rates of childhood obesity in the United States will be the focus of a study by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) task force.
The task force will start meeting early next year and produce a report that includes recommendations on how the food and media industries can work to combat childhood obesity, the Associated Press reported.
"Small children can't weed out the marketing messages from their favorite shows. Especially when the marketing campaigns feature favorite TV characters like SpongeBob or Scooby-Doo," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Wednesday at a news conference.
He noted that research shows that the average American child sees about 40,000 TV ads a year. The majority of those are for fast food, cereal, candy, and toys.
The task force will include FCC officials, health experts, members of consumer advocacy groups and representatives from the food, television and advertising industries, AP reported.
New Anthrax Vaccine Shows Promise
Scientists are making progress in the development of a new anthrax vaccine designed to work faster and have fewer side effects than the current vaccine, according to study results released Wednesday.
Researchers conducted the first round of human tests in 111 healthy adults. The volunteers received two doses of the investigational vaccine in a single month. There were no signs of safety problems and the vaccine produced responses that suggested recipients were developing immunity to anthrax, the Associated Press reported.
The findings were reported Wednesday at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. A larger test of the Avecia vaccine involving more than 600 people is currently underway.
Last Updated: Sept. 28, 2006
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FDA Statement on Foodborne E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Spinach
This statement is current as of September 26, 2006. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to provide the public with regular updates on the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak each day until further notice.
To date, 183 cases of illness due to E. coli O157:H7 infection have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 29 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), 95 hospitalizations and one death.
FDA is working closely with CDC and the state of California. FDA has determined that the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in three California counties: Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Clara. Spinach grown in the rest of the United States has not been implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The public can be confident that spinach grown in the non-implicated areas can be consumed.
Consumers are advised not to purchase or consume fresh spinach if they cannot verify that it was grown in areas other than the three California counties implicated in the outbreak.
Other produce grown in these counties is not implicated in this outbreak. Processed spinach (e.g., frozen and canned spinach) is also not implicated in this outbreak.
Industry is working to get spinach from areas not implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak back on the market.
Investigators from FDA, CDC and the state of California are working to narrow the area implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak even further.
States Affected; Canadian case identified
The 26 affected states are: Arizona (7), California (1), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3) Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Indiana (9), Kentucky (8), Maine (3), Maryland (3), Michigan (4), Minnesota (2), Nebraska (9), Nevada (1), New Mexico (5), New York (11), Ohio (24), Oregon (6), Pennsylvania (8), Tennessee (1), Utah (18), Virginia (2), Washington (3), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (47), and Wyoming (1).
In addition, Canada has confirmed that one case of E. coli O157:H7 has been positively matched to the outbreak strain in a person who ate bagged spinach.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed that the strain of E. coli O157:H7 connected with the outbreak has been isolated from a bag of Dole baby spinach in that state.
The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD) have confirmed that E. coli O157:H7, the same strain as that associated with the outbreak, has been found in a bag of Dole baby spinach purchased in Utah with a use by date of August 30, 2006. Laboratory tests were conducted by the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL).
The New Mexico Department of Health announced on September 20, 2006, that it had linked a sample from a package of spinach with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. The spinach was eaten by one of New Mexico's patients before becoming sick. DNA fingerprinting tests determined that the strain from the spinach matches the strain from patients in the outbreak. The package of spinach that tested positive was "Dole Baby Spinach, Best if Used by August 30."
Five (5) Recalls
On September 22, 2006, Pacific Coast Fruit Company of Portland, Oregon initiated a voluntary recall of products that may include spinach supplied by Natural Selections Foods. Pacific Coast Fruit Company stopped making all products with spinach supplied from California on September 14, 2006. The recalled products are:
Baby Spring Mix Salad Kit (4.6 lbs), Chef on the Run- Bacon Spinach Salad (9 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing), Chef on the Run - Spring Greens Salad (5 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing), Chef on the Run - Willamette Valley Salad (10 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing),Trader Joe's - Baby Spinach and Greens with Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans and Cranberries with Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (10 oz.), Trader Joe's - Baby Greens and Spinach Salad with Wild Maine Blueberry Dressing (10 oz.), Mediterranean Veggie Blend Kit - 15 lbs, and My Brothers Pizza Spinach and Garlic - 15 oz. and 36 oz.
Most of the salad products can be identified by the labels Trader Joe's, My Brothers Pizza or Chef on the Run and are in clam shell containers. Pizza products are in round cardboard bottoms with a plastic over wrap. All salad products will have a "USE BY DATE" on or before Sept 20, 2006. Pizza products will have a "USE BY DATE" on or before September 23, 2006.
The products were distributed through various retail outlets in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. There is no international distribution.
On September 22, 2006,Triple B Corporation, doing business as S.T. Produce, of Seattle, Washington, initiated a voluntary recall of its fresh spinach salad products with a "Use By" date of 8/22/2006 thru 9/20/2006. Spinach used in these products may have been supplied from Natural Selections Foods of California. The recalled products were distributed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to retail stores and delis and sold in a hard plastic clamshell container.
The products recalled by S.T. Produce are: NWG Spinach Salad (5 oz.),Spinach Salad, QFC (5 oz.), Charlie's Spinach Salad (5 oz.), Charlie's Tabouli & Goat Cheese Salad (10 oz.), NWG Tabouli & Goat Cheese Salad (10 oz.),Tabouli & Goat Cheese Salad, QFC (10 oz.), T/H Spring Mix Salad (5.5 oz.), T/H Mozzarella Spring Mix Salad (5.5 oz.), T/H Baby Spinach Salad (5.5 oz.), Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad w/ Grilled Chicken Breast (6.5 oz.), Larry's Market Tabouli & Goat Cheese Salad (10 oz.), Charlie's Seasonal Greens Salad (2.5 oz.), Charlie's Seasonal Greens Salad (4 oz.), Charlie's Baby Spinach Salad (6 oz.), Charlie's Baby Spinach Salad (5 oz.) and Caesar Bowtie Noodle Salad Kit with Grilled Chicken Breast (6.9 lbs).
On September 19, 2006, RLB Food Distributors, L.P., West Caldwell, NJ, initiated a voluntary recall of certain salad products that may contain spinach with an 'Enjoy Thru' date of 9/20/06. See: http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/rlb09_06.html. The products recalled by RLB are: Balducci's Mesclun Mix 5 oz., Balducci's Organic Baby Spinach 5 oz., Balducci's Mixed Greens 5 oz., FreshPro Mesclun Mix 5 oz., FreshPro Organic Baby Spinach 5 oz., FreshPro Mixed Greens 5 oz., FreshPro Salad Mix with Italian Dressing 4.75 oz., and FreshPro Salad Mix with Ranch Dressing 5.25 oz.
On September 17, 2006, River Ranch, of Salinas, California, announced a voluntary recall of packages of spring mix containing spinach. River Ranch obtained bulk spring mix containing spinach from Natural Selections. The following brands are involved: Fresh N' Easy Spring Mix and Hy-Vee Spring mix containing baby spinach, distributed to retailers in Texas, Iowa, New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio. Product was packed in 5 oz. bags and 5 oz. plastic trays. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.
On September 15, 2006, Natural Selection Foods, LLC, of San Juan Bautista, California, announced a voluntary recall of all products containing spinach in all brands they pack with "Best if Used by Dates" of August 17, 2006 through October 1, 2006. These products include spinach and any salad with spinach in a blend, both retail and food service products. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.
Natural Selection Foods, LLC brands include: Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Dole, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature's Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe's, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, D'Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer's Market, Tanimura & Antle, President's Choice, Cross Valley, and Riverside Farms.
The affected products were also distributed to Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Iceland. No illnesses have been reported from these countries. FDA continues to investigate whether other companies and brands are involved.
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 Illness
E. coli O157:H7 causes diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called HUS. HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
Lettuce Safety Initiative
The FDA developed the Lettuce Safety Initiative www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lettsafe.html in response to recurring outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in lettuce. As a result of this outbreak, the initiative has been expanded to cover spinach. The primary goals of the initiative are to reduce public health risks by focusing on the product, agents and areas of greatest concern and to alert consumers early and respond rapidly in the event of an outbreak. This initiative is based on the 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan, intended to minimize the incidence of food borne illness associated with the consumption of fresh produce.
FDA continues to work closely with the CDC and state and local agencies to determine the cause and scope of the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in spinach. Please check www.fda.gov for updates.
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