Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2018

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

China Withholding H7N9 Bird Flu Virus Samples From U.S.

Chinese officials have not sent lab samples of H7N9 bird flu virus to their U.S. counterparts despite repeated requests and an international agreement.

U.S. officials say the specimens of the rapidly evolving virus are needed to develop vaccines and treatments, The New York Times reported.

The Chinese government has withheld lab samples of the H7N9 virus for over a year. In the past, World Health Organization rules made such exchanges mostly routine.

“Jeopardizing U.S. access to foreign pathogens and therapies to counter them undermines our nation’s ability to protect against infections which can spread globally within days,” Dr. Michael Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School, told The Times.

The next worldwide pandemic is likely to arise from a flu virus, and the H7N9 virus is one of the potential sources, experts believe.

H7N9 took hold in China in 2013. It has spread through poultry farms and evolved into a highly dangerous strain that can infect humans. Forty percent of patients have died, The Times reported.

Just over a year ago, there was an outbreak of H7N9 infections in Asia, and most of the 766 reported cases occurred in China.

The Chinese embassy in Washington and the Chinese Center For Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to requests for comment about the transfer of H7N9 virus samples to the U.S., The Times reported.


New Missouri Law Dictates What Can be Called Meat

Food products that don’t come from livestock or poultry can’t be called meat, according to a Missouri law that took effect Tuesday.

Products that don’t quality as meat include soy-based and plant-based “meat,” and “clean” meat that’s produced in a lab, CNN reported.

Violators of the new law could be fined up to $1,000 and spend up to a year in jail.

A legal challenge against the law was filed in federal court by a number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, the Good Food Institute, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the company that produces Tofurky, CNN reported.

The groups say the law attempts to “stifle the growing grocery category of plant-based meat.”

“As more and more consumers are making the conscious choice to remove animals from their plates, Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers,” Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement, CNN reported.

“This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech — which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet,” he said.

The law is “”all about marketing with integrity,” according to the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which supports the law.


Salmonella Outbreak in 4 States Linked to Kosher Chicken: CDC

One person has died and 16 others sickened in a four-state salmonella outbreak linked to kosher chicken, U.S. health officials say.

Cases have been reported in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Eight people have been hospitalized, including one patient who died in New York.

Illnesses began between Sept. 25, 2017 and June 4, 2018, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating the outbreak in late June after after the New York State Department of Health found that several ill people reported eating kosher chicken.

Tests revealed that some kosher chicken products are contaminated with salmonella, and several ill people said they’d eaten Empire Kosher brand chicken. The outbreak strain was identified in samples of raw chicken collected from two facilities, including one facility that processes Empire Kosher brand chicken, the CDC said.

The investigation is ongoing, the CDC said.

People become sick from salmonella 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germ and develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Most people recover within a week, but some cases last longer and are more severe.

Always cook raw chicken, including chicken breasts, whole chickens, and ground chicken, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to make sure, the CDC advised.

Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they’re in contact with raw chicken. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken and other raw meats to avoid contaminating fruits, vegetables, and other food that won’t be cooked before being eaten.

Don’t wash raw chicken before cooking. Doing so can spread chicken juices in the kitchen and contaminate other food, utensils, and countertops, the CDC said.

Posted: August 2018

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