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Health Highlights: Aug 7, 2015

Los Angeles Girl Likely Caught Plague in Yosemite Water-Cooling Towers Must be Inspected, Disinfected: NYC Health Officials

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

Los Angeles Girl Likely Caught Plague in Yosemite

Experts believe that a Los Angeles girl being treated for plague caught the disease in Yosemite National Park.

That case, and two deaths from plague in Colorado, are making headlines, but the public should not be alarmed, according to health officials, NBC News reported.

Plague is rare in the United States, with an average of seven cases reported each year. The disease is usually easily treated with antibiotics if it's diagnosed in time. Most people who catch plague have handled or been near wild rodents.

"Although this is a rare disease, people should protect themselves from infection by avoiding any contact with wild rodents," California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said in a statement, NBC News reported.

"Never feed squirrels, chipmunks, or other rodents in picnic or campground areas, and never touch sick or dead rodents. Protect your pets from fleas and keep them away from wild animals," she said.


Water-Cooling Towers Must be Inspected, Disinfected: NYC Health Officials

Water-cooling towers on thousands of New York City buildings must be checked and disinfected within two weeks, health officials said Thursday.

The order from city health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett came as two more deaths were confirmed in the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx that began last month, The New York Times reported.

The death toll from the airborne respiratory illness now stands at 10, and at least 100 people have been infected so far.

The bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease has been found in five water-cooling towers in the South Bronx, but it hasn't been determined if one or more of those towers is directly linked to the outbreak, The Times reported.

The towers are typically located on large modern, or modernized buildings. City officials said they do not have a registry of cooling towers, and it's not clear how the thousands of towers in the city can be checked within two weeks or how the city can enforce the order.

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce as proposal to tighten regulation of the cooling towers, including standards for testing and maintaining them, The Times reported.

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