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Health Highlights: Aug. 12, 2019

New Ebola Drugs Highly Effective, Might Shorten Africa Outbreak Dole Baby Spinach Recalled EPA Won't Approve Warning Labels for Glyphosate

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

New Ebola Drugs Highly Effective, Might Shorten Africa Outbreak

Two experimental Ebola treatments have worked so well in the Democratic Republic of Congo outbreak that they will be offered to all patients, scientists say.

The treatments -- called REGN-EB3 and mAb-114 -- have saved about 90% of patients who received them early in the course of Ebola infection, The New York Times reported.

It's hoped that the treatments will end the epidemic in eastern Congo that the World Health Organization says has caused 2,800 known cases that have resulted in more than 1,800 deaths.

The treatments -- both monoclonal antibodies -- are infused intravenously into patient's blood and attach themselves to the outside of the Ebola virus, preventing it from invading cells, The Times reported.

REGN-EB3 and mAb-114 were part of a four-treatment trial that's included about 700 patients since November. Due to the high success rate of REGN-EB3 and mAb-114, a data-monitoring committee that met last Friday decided that the drugs should be offered to all patients.

The two other drugs in the trial, ZMapp and remdesivir, were much less effective and should no longer be offered, the committee decided, The Times reported.


Dole Baby Spinach Recalled

Some Dole baby spinach products have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

The recall is for 6 oz Dole Baby Spinach bag, lot code W20308A (UPC code 0-71430-00964-2), and 10 oz Dole Baby Spinach clamshell, lot code W203010 (UPC code 0-71430-00016-8), both with Use-by dates of 08-05-2019.

"This product is expired and should no longer be on retail shelves," the company noted in the news release.

No illnesses have been reported in association with the recalled products, according to the company. It advised anyone with the recalled baby spinach to throw it away.

For more information, consumers can call Dole at 1-800-356-3111.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.


EPA Won't Approve Warning Labels for Glyphosate

Warning labels for the suspected cancer-causing weed killer glyphosate (Roundup) won't be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer says glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic," which has led California to require warning labels on glyphosate products, the Associated Press reported.

However, California hasn't enforced the warning label rule because Roundup maker Monsanto last year obtained a court order blocking the warning labels until the lawsuit is resolved.

The EPA says its research shows the chemical poses no risks to public health and won't approve warning labels for glyphosate products, the AP reported.

The EPA considers labels warning glyphosate to cause cancer to "constitute a false and misleading statement," which is prohibited by federal law, Michael Goodis, director of the agency's registration division in its Office of Pesticide Programs, said in letters to companies explaining the EPA's stance.

It's unusual for the EPA to tell a state it can't go beyond the federal requirements, according to Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

"It's a little bit sad the EPA is the biggest cheerleader and defender of glyphosate," Hartl told the AP. "It's the Environmental Protection Agency, not the pesticide protection agency."

Glyphosate-related lawsuits involving about 13,000 plaintiffs are pending against Monsanto. Juries have awarded damages in each of three cases that went to trial in California.

Chandra Lord, speaking for Monsanto's parent company Bayer AG, said the EPA's announcement "is fully consistent with the science-based conclusions reached by the agency and leading health regulators worldwide for more than four decades."

"Glyphosate is not carcinogenic," Lord said.

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