3 Health Related Stories

QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER DEADLY MYSTERY BACTERIA IN MIDWEST — CBS NEWS — Health officials are still searching for the source of a serious blood infection linked to at least 18 deaths in the Midwest.

The bacteria, called Elizabethkingia, does not usually cause illness in humans, but in recent months it has sickened dozens and killed 17 people in Wisconsin and one in Michigan.

“This is not a new bacteria, although the strain that seems to be spreading now in Wisconsin is a slightly different one than we’re used to seeing,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips explained. “It can cause serious blood infections or meningitis, but generally we see five to ten cases in every state in every year.”

However, since November more than 50 cases have been reported in southern Wisconsin, many of them fatal.

The bacteria got its name from the microbiologist Elizabeth King, who discovered it in 1959. Symptoms of infection include fever, chills, headache, neck pain, and skin infections. Those most at risk for complications are newborns, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

ARTIFICIAL PANCREAS COULD BE READY IN 2017 FOR DIABETICS — CNBC — For people with type 1 diabetes, life is a perpetual tightrope act. They must carefully monitor the dosage and timing of insulin injections that allow them to teeter on the high wire that is optimum glucose control. Too little insulin, and their glucose levels rise, leaving them at risk over time for complications such as blindness and kidney failure; too much insulin and hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) results, making them vulnerable to coma or, in extreme circumstances, even death.

Now researchers studying type 1 diabetes believe they have found a way to help patients avoid the tightrope walk altogether. Several academic and commercial groups are conducting clinical trials for the latest generation of what’s known as the artificial pancreas. Contrary to what the name might suggest, artificial pancreas systems involve no transfer of tissue. Rather, the term refers to a complex technology that uses computer algorithms to automatically and continuously sense a person’s unique blood glucose balance and then substitute the endocrine function of a healthy pancreas.

ZIKA-AFFECTED AREAS CAN SCREEN BLOOD WITH EXPERIMENTAL TEST: FDA — WASHINGTON TIMES — Puerto Rico and other areas with active transmission of Zika virus can use an experimental test to screen local blood donations for the mosquito-borne disease that’s been linked to serious birth defects, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

Earlier this year, the FDA said places where Zika is circulating should get their blood samples from parts of the U.S. where the virus where it isn’t spreading locally. As a result, the administration arranged to ship blood products from the mainland to Puerto Rico, which has reported more than 250 locally acquired cases.

Now the island of 3.5 million people can resume collections of its own blood, so long as it uses the test manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., in New Jersey.

“The availability of an investigational test to screen donated blood for Zika virus is an important step forward in maintaining the safety of the nation’s blood supply, especially for those U.S. territories already experiencing active transmission,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.


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