Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
At Least 1 in 5 Infected During Swine Flu Pandemic: Study
Between 20 and 27 percent of people worldwide were infected with
H1N1 swine flu during the 2009 pandemic, a new study suggests.
The death rate among infected people was less than 0.02 percent,
The highest rate of infection was in children, with 47 percent
of those aged 5 to 19 showing signs of having caught the virus,
according to the analysis of data from 19 countries, including the
United States, United Kingdom, China and India.
The rate of infection was lower in seniors, at only 11 percent
of people aged 65 and older, according to the study in the journal
Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.
While these findings are based on data from 19 countries, the
researchers believe infection rates were similar in countries where
data was not available. The study was an international
collaboration led by the World Health Organization and Imperial
College London in the U.K.
"Knowing the proportion of the population infected in different age groups and the proportion of those infected who died will help public health decision-makers plan for and respond to pandemics," study senior author Dr. Anthony Mounts, of the World Health Organization, said in an Imperial College London news release.
"This information will be used to quantify severity and develop mathematical models to predict how flu outbreaks spread and what effect different interventions may have," he explained.
New Medical Robot Approved by FDA
A self-guided rolling robot that can connect doctors with
patients anywhere in the world has been approved by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration.
The RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot is equipped with its own
stethoscope and can be connected to equipment such as an
ultrasound. When connected to a hospital's server, the robot can
show MRIs, CT scans and X-rays to doctors in distant locations, the
The robot, a joint effort by iRobot and InTough Health, is the
first FDA-approved remote presence system that includes independent
navigation. It will enable remote physician-patient consultations
and ensure that doctors have the information they need to take
"Eighty percent of victims of stroke, for example, the third leading cause of death, have blockages that need to be treated in the first three hours by a drug to save the patient from dying, but there's a shortage of stroke neurologists," Yulun Wang, CEO of California-based InTouch Health, told the Herald.
"By using these robots, you can extend the reach of these specialists to the 5,000 to 6,000 hospitals in the United States," Wang said.
School Sports a Right for Disabled Students: Education
Students with disabilities must be given the opportunity to play
school sports, the U.S. Education Department announced Friday.
It said disabled students should be allowed to join traditional
teams if "reasonable modifications" could be made to accommodate,
If such modifications would fundamentally alter a sport or give
the disabled student an advantage, schools should create parallel
sports programs that have comparable standing to traditional
programs, the department said.
"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a news release, the APreported.
The announcement was welcomed by activists.
"This is a landmark moment for students with disabilities," Terri Lakowski, who led a coalition pushing for the changes, told the AP. "This is a huge victory."
Smokers Face Large Health Insurance Penalties
Tobacco penalties in the Affordable Care Act could mean that
millions of smokers could be unable to afford health insurance,
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, the act allows health insurances to
charge 50 percent higher premiums for smokers buying individual
That means that the penalty could be as much as nearly $4,250
more per year for a 55-year-old smoker and as much as nearly $5,100
for a 60-year-old smoker. Younger smokers could be charged lower
Workers with company plans would not be hit with the tobacco
penalties if they joined programs to help them quit smoking, the
Nearly one in five U.S. adults smokes. The rate is higher among
low-income Americans, who are also more likely to have jobs that
don't provide health insurance and would therefore have to buy
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