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Health Highlights: Aug. 2, 2017

Prosecutors Deployed to Fight U.S. Drug Abuse Epidemic Former Notre Dame Football Coach Ara Parseghian Dies at 94 Sexually Transmitted Zika Case Confirmed in Florida Older Workers More Likely to Die on the Job

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

Prosecutors Deployed to Fight U.S. Drug Abuse Epidemic

Twelve federal prosecutors will be sent to cities plagued by drug addiction to investigate health care fraud and opioid scams, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.

The pilot program is meant to combat the nation's drug abuse epidemic, the Associated Press reported.

"In recent years some of the government officials in our country I think have mistakenly sent mixed messages about the harmfulness of drugs," Sessions said. "So let me say: We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally unto this kind of rampant drug abuse. We must create a culture that's hostile to drug abuse."

The prosecutors will analyze data in an attempt to identify doctors and other health care providers who illegally prescribe or distribute powerful opioid painkillers, the AP reported.

The drugs are a major factor in the nation's deadly drug overdose epidemic. A record 215,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015.


Former Notre Dame Football Coach Ara Parseghian Dies at 94

Former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian has died at age 94.

In a statement, university president Rev. John Jenkins said Parseghian died at his home in Granger, Ind., at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Parseghian had recently returned home after spending more than a week in a nursing care facility, where he was treated for an infection in his surgically repaired hip. He continued to receive round-the-clock care at home.

After taking over a struggling Notre Dame football program in the 1960s, Parseghian led the team to two national championships (1966 and 1973) in 11 seasons. He retired after the 1974 season with a record of 95-17-4, the AP reported.


Sexually Transmitted Zika Case Confirmed in Florida

Florida's first case of sexually transmitted Zika infection this year was confirmed Tuesday by state health officials.

The case in Pinellas County involved a person whose partner recently traveled to Cuba and had symptoms consistent with Zika infection. Both people tested positive for Zika, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

There was no evidence that Zika transmission through mosquitoes took place anywhere in the state, according to the health department.

"It is important to remember Zika can also be transmitted sexually and to take precautions if you or your partner traveled to an area where Zika is active. If the department identifies an area where ongoing transmission of Zika is taking place, we will notify the public immediately," a Florida Department of Health news release said.

It added that mosquito control had been notified and appropriate "mosquito reduction activities" were taking place.

Of the 118 confirmed Zika cases in Florida so far this year, most have been linked to travel outside the continental United States. The only confirmed local cases all were associated with exposure to Zika last year, CBS/AP reported.

Last week, Texas health officials reported a Zika infection that likely occurred from a mosquito bite in recent months.

Zika can cause mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. Some people have no symptoms. But infection during pregnancy can cause severe brain-related birth defects, CBS/AP reported.


Older Workers More Likely to Die on the Job

The number of fatal workplace accidents in the United States has declined, but older workers have a much higher accident rate than younger employees, a new analysis of federal data finds.

The workplace fatality rate fell by 22 percent between 2006 and 2015, but the rate among older workers during that time ranged between 50 percent to 65 percent higher than the overall rate, according the Associated Press report.

The overall number of workplace deaths decreased from 5,480 in 2005 to 4,836 in 2015, but rose from 1,562 to 1,681 among older workers. In 2015, about 35 percent of workplace deaths involved someone aged 55 and older, according to the AP.

Between 2005 and 2015, the number of older workers increased by 37 percent, compared with a 6 percent rise in the number of workers overall.

Many baby boomers are working past age 65. By 2024, older workers will account for 25 percent of the labor market, according to the federal government.

Older workers may have age-related physical changes such as declining vision and hearing, slower response time, balance problems, chronic health problems, and muscle or bone conditions such as arthritis, the AP reported.

However, older people have a range of physical and mental abilities and shouldn't be stereotyped, according to Ruth Finkelstein, co-director of Columbia University's Aging Center.

She said workers of all ages require more protection. "We are not paying enough attention to occupational safety in this country," Finkelstein told the AP.

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