Health Highlights: April 22, 2011

Mysterious Health Problems in Some Gulf Residents: Doctor Measles Outbreak in Europe BP Agrees to Advance Payment of $1 Billion for Gulf Restoration Botox Reduces Ability to Read Emotions: Study

By HealthDay News HealthDay Reporter

Updated on April 22, 2011

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

Mysterious Health Problems in Some Gulf Residents: Doctor

A variety of mysterious health problems are occurring in some Gulf Coast residents and clean-up workers one year after the BP oil spill disaster, a Louisiana doctor says.

"I'm dealing with a wide array of people and the symptoms are almost identical in all of them," Dr. Mike Robichaux, an ear, nose and throat doctor, told CNN.

"What's really unique about it is that patients have come in with a severe amount of memory loss," he said. "Very high blood pressure -- blood pressures that are going sky high and then coming down to normal, and then blood sugar levels that are fluctuating. Lastly would be some pulmonary problems and some fairly serious (gastrointestinal) problems."

Robichaux, based in Raceland, La., said he's treated about 60 people with some combination of these symptoms but believes there are many more with similar health problems, CNN reported.


Measles Outbreak in Europe

Failure to vaccinate all children is responsible for a major measles outbreak in Europe, says the World Health Organization.

More than 6,500 cases of measles have been reported in 33 European nations between March and January, including 4,937 cases in France alone, the Associated Press reported.

Children and teens ages 10 to 19 haven't been getting immunizations as they should, said Rebecca Martin, head of WHO's Copenhagen, Denmark office for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization.

"There's been a buildup of children who have not been immunized over the years," she told the AP. "It's almost like a threshold. When you have enough people who have not been immunized, then outbreaks can occur."


BP Agrees to Advance Payment of $1 Billion for Gulf Restoration

BP will provide an advance payment of $1 billion for early efforts to repair damage to coastal marshes, beaches, barrier islands and ocean habitat in the Gulf of Mexico caused by last year's offshore drilling platform explosion and oil spill disaster.

The voluntary agreement with the U.S. government and five states is the largest of its kind in an oil pollution case. It was announced by the company and government officials Thursday, The New York Times reported.

The agreement does not absolve BP of legal liability for the disaster, or from the costs of any additional economic and environmental damages.

A review to assess the full amount of damage to the gulf habitat and to develop a plan for restoring it is being conducted by federal and state officials, The Times reported.


Botox Reduces Ability to Read Emotions: Study

Botox reduces a person's ability to understand other people's emotions, according to a new study.

Botox paralyzes certain facial muscles, impairing the ability to make some expressions. This is important because people read others' emotions partly by mimicking their facial expressions, lead author David Neal told USA Today.

The study compared participants who used Botox and others who used a gel that boosts muscular signals. They were asked to identify emotions on computer images of faces.

"When the facial muscles are dampened, you get worse in emotion perception, and when the facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotion perception," said Neal, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, USA Today reported.

The study was published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.


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