Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
A new type of swine flu is causing more cases in humans, U.S. health officials announced this week. This type is mostly mild and affects mainly people who have been in contact with pigs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new advice this week about sexually transmitted diseases. It said some heterosexuals may benefit from an HIV-prevention pill that was approved for gay and bisexual men. The CDC also asked doctors to change how they treat gonorrhea. The disease is now resistant to most antibiotics. A new study published this week found that the percentage of U.S. children with high cholesterol has dropped in the last decade.
This Issue: Big Rise in Human Swine Flu Cases New Advice on HIV Prevention, Gonorrhea Treatment Kids' Cholesterol Drops Despite Higher Weights
In the News:
Big Rise in Human Swine Flu Cases
The number of confirmed human cases of a new type of swine flu jumped sharply this week. And U.S. health officials issued some advice: Don't pet the pigs. By August 3, there were 29 confirmed cases of the new strain of swine flu in humans. This week, there were 158, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. The new cases included at least 113 in Indiana and 30 in Ohio. Most cases were linked to state fairs. People got sick after close contact with infected pigs. Many of them were children, including some who raised, displayed or petted the pigs. Symptoms are mild, officials said. The disease is not spreading from person to person. But the CDC said this strain of flu does have one gene from a type of swine flu that led to a worldwide outbreak in 2009. Like people, pigs spread flu virus through coughing, sneezing and runny noses. People can be infected by touching pigs or being near them. The CDC advised people to wash their hands after being around pigs and avoid taking food or drinks into animal bars. Pregnant women, young children and older adults should be especially careful. The Associated Press wrote about the new advice.
New Advice on HIV Prevention, Gonorrhea Treatment
U.S. health officials gave new advice this week about sexually transmitted diseases. They said some heterosexuals might benefit from a pill recommended to prevent HIV infection in gay and bisexual men. And they said doctors should change the way they treat gonorrhea in order to fight its growing resistance to drugs. The HIV treatment Truvada was approved this year for prevention of HIV as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week that Truvada might benefit some women and heterosexual men, too. One example might be a couple, with one HIV-infected partner, who want to have a baby. The CDC also said doctors should stop using the antibiotic cefixime to treat gonorrhea if at all possible. The disease now resists most antibiotics. Cefixime is commonly used to treat it, but there are signs the disease is starting to resist this drug, too. The CDC said doctors should use an injectable drug, ceftriaxone, instead. Scientists think gonorrhea is less likely to become resistant to the injectable drug. They want to preserve cefixime as a last-resort treatment. The Associated Press wrote about the new advice.
Kids' Cholesterol Drops Despite Higher Weights
Kids have lower cholesterol than they did a decade ago, researchers said this week. The percentage of U.S. children with high cholesterol dropped even though more kids are overweight. The study used numbers from a large national health survey that also includes blood tests. The surveys included more than 16,000 children and teens. They were done in 1988-94, 1999-2002 and 2007-10. About 1 in 9 children had high cholesterol in the first 2 periods. That dropped to 1 in 12 in the most recent period, a decline of about 28%. Researchers said they did not know the reason. But an editorial published with the study said one reason may be a drop in trans fats used in packaged and fried foods. Since 2006, U.S. food labels have been required to list trans fats. Many products were changed to remove this type of fat, which is known to raise LDL cholesterol. Some cities and states also have banned trans fats for frying and other uses in restaurants and bakeries. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study. Associated Press wrote about it.
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