Health Highlights: July 16, 2018

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

First Smallpox Drug Approved by FDA

The first drug to treat smallpox has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A massive vaccination campaign led to the eradication of smallpox worldwide by 1980, but there are fears the highly contagious virus could be used in a terror attack.

The U.S. government has already stockpiled 2 million treatments of the new capsule drug, which is called TOPXX and is made by SIGA Technologies of New York, the Associated Press reported.

“This new treatment affords us an additional option should smallpox ever be used as a bioweapon,” FDA Director Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

TOPXX is taken twice daily for 14 days, the AP reported.


Illnesses Linked to Venezuela Crab Meat: FDA

There have been 12 reported cases of people in the U.S. becoming sick after eating fresh crab meat from Venezuela, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency said the illnesses were caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria and advised people to avoid eating fresh crab meat from Venezuela, CNN reported.

Illnesses began between April 1 and July 3, with eight cases in Maryland, two in Louisiana and one each in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Four people had to be hospitalized, the FDA said.

“Most people infected with Vibrio parahaemolyticus develop diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever and stomach pain,” according to the agency.

Health officials said people dining out or buying crab meat at a grocery should ask where it came from, and should throw away any crab meat of unknown origin, CNN reported.


E. Coli Found in Water at Tennessee Ziplining Facility

Health officials say they found E. coli in water at a ziplining facility in Tennessee that’s been linked to an outbreak affecting at least 500 people.

One visitor to the CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour in Gatlinburg tested positive for norovirus and E. coli, while at least another 550 people tested positive for norovirus, the state’s health department said last week, Fox News reported Sunday.

Both norovirus and E. coli can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.

“At this time we cannot point to one simple cause of this outbreak,” John Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist, said in a statement.

“Preliminary testing and environmental health assessments indicate the water system at the zipline facility may have contributed to the outbreak; however, there are likely other sources involved in the spread of the illnesses, including contaminated surfaces and person-to-person transmission,” Dunn said.

He added that tests revealed fecal contamination in the facility’s water system and further testing was being conducted, Fox reported.

Posted: July 2018

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