News for Healthier Living

Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2019

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

Doctors Question State Lawsuits Over Pelvic Mesh Products

State lawsuits over pelvic mesh products could scare women away from the products or even get them removed from the market, a group of doctors say.

The products, used to treat pelvic floor disorders and incontinence, are the subjects of lawsuits by Washington, California, Kentucky and Mississippi. The states claim that Johnson & Johnson did not fully disclose safety risks, the Associated Press reported.

But some doctors who specialize in female pelvic medicine oppose the lawsuits.

In Washington, 63 surgeons signed a letter to state Attorney General Bob Ferguson saying the lawsuit is misguided, the AP reported.

"We have served on national and regional medical societies in women's health," wrote Dr. Jeffrey Clemons, a pelvic reconstructive surgeon in Tacoma. "It is astonishing to us that the AG is proceeding with this lawsuit without first availing themselves of the significant experience and expertise of this group."

Doctors in California are drafting a similar letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The president of the American Urogynecologic Society, which has 1,900 members, has issued a statement expressing similar concerns about the lawsuits, the AP reported.

Pelvic mesh products became available in the U.S. in the late 1990s and have been used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. But in 2008 and 2011, the Food and Drug Administration issued warnings about serious complications with pelvic mesh products used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, including permanent incontinence, severe discomfort and an inability to have sex.

Most of the pelvic mesh products for organ prolapse have been taken off the market in the U.S., the AP reported.

Johnson & Johnson and other companies face liability claims from tens of thousands of women over the products.

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Chocolates, Candies May be Contaminated With Hepatitis A: FDA

A public health alert about possible hepatitis A contamination in Modjeskas from Bauer's Candies was announced Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Consumers who bought the individually wrapped marshmallow candy dipped in chocolate or caramel after Nov. 14, 2018 should throw them away.

The FDA says a worker at the Bauer's Candies facility in Kentucky tested positive for hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

The risk of hepatitis A transmission from the candy is low, but the FDA said that people who ate candies bought after Nov. 14 and have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A should see a healthcare provider to determine if they require treatment called post exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

PEP may be recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to hepatitis A virus in the last two weeks. Those who've been vaccinated against hepatitis A do not require PEP, the FDA said.

The agency said it is not aware of any cases of hepatitis A linked to the candies.

The FDA said it is working with the company on a voluntary recall of the candies and will release details as they become available.

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E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce Is Over: CDC

The E. coli outbreak linked to California-grown romaine lettuce that disrupted millions of Americans' Thanksgiving dinner plans appears to be over, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

As of Jan. 9, there had been 62 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infections in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-five people were hospitalized, including two who developed kidney failure. No deaths were reported.

Illnesses in the United States began between Oct. 7, 2018, and Dec. 4, 2018. There were also cases reported in Canada.

The outbreak was traced to romaine lettuce from the Adam Bros. Inc. farm in Santa Barbara County, Calif., according to the CDC.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Americans to forgo romaine for a short time around the Thanksgiving holiday while the agency traced the source of the outbreak.

The CDC said that contaminated romaine lettuce should now no longer be available, and that it and other federal agencies are continuing their investigation into how the romaine lettuce was contaminated with E. coli.

"Our teams have collected environmental samples and are working with growers in an effort to pinpoint when and how the romaine lettuce became contaminated. Our ongoing investigation into this matter will soon come to a close and we believe that its findings will help to prevent future outbreaks in leafy greens," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

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Police to Collect DNA From Male Workers at Phoenix Facility Where Comatose Woman Gave Birth

DNA samples will be collected from all male workers at a long-term care facility in Phoenix, Arizona where a female patient in a vegetative state recently gave birth, police say.

The search warrant to obtain DNA samples from the Hacienda HealthCare-owned facility was served on Tuesday, according to company spokesman David Leibowitz, the Associated Press reported.

The 29-year-old female patient had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning. The baby was born on Dec. 29.

Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the DNA testing.

"We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation," the company said in a statement, the AP reported.

It's unclear if facility staff members knew about the pregnancy until the birth. According to its website, the facility serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile."

The case has prompted reviews by state agencies and put on focus on the safety of severely disabled or incapacitated patients, the AP reported.

The woman was an enrolled tribal member of the San Carlos Apache tribe of southeastern Arizona, according to officials.

"On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members," tribal chairman Terry Rambler said, the AP reported.

"When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served," Rambler said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's office has called the case "deeply troubling." Phoenix police so far not commented, the AP reported.

The case is "disturbing, to put it mildly," said Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc of Arizona, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"I can't believe someone receiving that level of constant care wasn't recognized as being pregnant prior to the time she delivered," Meyers told the AP.

January 10, 2019
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