Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Sixth Person Dies of H7N9 Bird Flu; U.S. Begins Work on
A sixth death from the H7N9 bird flu strain was announced by
Chinese officials Friday and authorities in the city of Shanghai
have killed all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in
pigeons being sold for meat.
The poultry slaughter is the first so far as the Chinese
government tries to deal with the virus that has infected 16 people
along the eastern seaboard. They are the first known H7N9
infections in people, the
Officials believe that people are being infected through direct
contact with fowl and say there is no evidence that the virus is
spreading between people.
In the United States, health officials have started to make a
seed vaccine against the H7N9 bird flu strain. It is being made
"only as a precaution," according to a Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention spokesman, but a CDC virologist said the agency was
"fairly worried" about the new virus,
The New York Timesreported.
It will take at least a month to create the seed vaccine. It
will then be tested in ferrets. After receiving the vaccine and
given time to produce antibodies, the ferrets will be infected with
the H7N9 virus. It will then take a few days to see if they get
"If everything works smoothly the first time, we could theoretically have it ready to send to manufacturers within four weeks," Michael Shaw, associate laboratory director for the CDC's influenza division, told The Times. "But some things, like ferrets, you can't speed up."
By the time the seed vaccine is ready, the CDC will have a
better idea of how dangerous the new H7N9 virus is, according to
agency spokesman Tom Skinner.
It is still not clear how deadly the virus is "because we may be
seeing only the serious cases, the ones who go to hospitals," Shaw
said. The number of mild cases that may have gone unreported will
be known only by testing for antibodies in blood samples from a
large number of people, he explained.
The fact that the virus has been found in pigeons is
"It's clearly not making the pigeons ill, since no one's seen large numbers of pigeons dying. Pigeons usually aren't tested. And this could make control harder. Chickens are easy to round up," Shaw told The Times.
Preliminary tests suggest that the H7N9 virus is susceptible to
the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, the World Health
Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70
Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday,
two days after he announced that he was undergoing radiation
treatment for a recurrence of cancer.
He died at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as he was
preparing to go home for hospice care, according to a statement
posted on his blog by his wife Chaz, the
Ebert, 70, was the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since
1967 and co-hosted two long-running TV shows.
Ebert underwent cancer surgeries in 2006 and lost portions of
his jaw and the ability to eat, drink and speak. However, he
returned to writing full time and eventually returned to
3 Million Lbs of Frozen Pizza, Other Snacks Recalled
Possible E. coli contamination has prompted Rich Products Corp.
of Buffalo to expand a recall to include about 3 million pounds of
frozen pizza, mozzarella bites, Philly cheese steaks and other
The recall involves all products made at the company's plant in
Waycross, Ga. The products have best buy dates from Jan. 1, 2013
through Sept. 29, 2014,
The foods may be contaminated with E. coli O121, a strain that
can be just as dangerous as the better-known E. coli O157:H7, which
is frequently involved in outbreaks caused by hamburger.
This latest recall expands on a March 28 recall of about 196,000
pounds of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas and other
frozen mini meals and snack items that may have been contaminated
with E. coli O121,
So far, 24 people in 15 states have become ill after eating
those products, including 7 who have been hospitalized, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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