Health Highlights: Dec. 1, 2009

No New Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1 Cases at Duke Thiamine Deficiency Spurs Cat Food Recall Genes Linked to Gray Hair in Women International AIDS Conference Returns to U.S. South Africa Will Do More to Fight HIV/AIDS: President WHO Issues New HIV Treatment Recommendations

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

No New Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1 Cases at Duke

No additional cases of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 flu have been found at Duke University Hospital, according to preliminary results of extensive testing and screening, officials announced Tuesday.

On Nov. 20, the hospital reported that four patients in a single, isolated unit were confirmed as having Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 swine flu. The unit is for patients with seriously impaired immune systems and multiple other complex medical conditions.

Over the past 10 days, all patients in the unit were tested several times by the hospital, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Division of Public Health. No new cases of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 were found.

The hospital is working with the CDC and state health officials to review the initial four reported cases. It's expected the assessment will continue for several more weeks.


Thiamine Deficiency Spurs Cat Food Recall

After 21 confirmed reports of sick cats, Diamond Pet Foods has recalled select bags of dry cat food because they contain too little thiamine, an essential ingredient for cats.

The company recalled bags of Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball distributed in 18 states, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Cats fed these foods without any other sources of nutrition could develop thiamine deficiency, a disorder that can result in gastrointestinal or neurological problems or even death, if untreated.

States where the recalled bags were distributed are: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the AP said.

Twenty-one cases of thiamine deficiency were confirmed in New York and Pennsylvania.

Signs of thiamine deficiency include decreased appetite, weight loss, salivation and vomiting. As the condition progresses, later symptoms can include wobbly walking or circling, seizures, droopy neck and falling.

Consumers can return the recalled cat food to the store where it was purchased and obtain a full refund. For more information, call 800-977-8797.


Genes Linked to Gray Hair in Women

Genes, not lifestyle factors such as stress and diet, are most likely to cause gray hair in women, according to a study that included more than 200 identical and non-identical Danish twin sisters, ages 59 to 81.

There was little difference in gray hair among the identical twins -- who share the same genes -- and more difference among non-identical twins, whose genes differ, BBC News reported.

"This study offers us a fascinating insight into the reason why women go gray, and it certainly suggests that environmental factors are not as important as we once thought," said lead researcher Dr. David Gunn. "The research indicates that irrespective of how stressful a woman's life is, there are greater forces at play which are more likely to cause her hair to gray."

He and his colleagues also found that genes may play a strong role in receding hair, while hair thinning on top of the head is associated with lifestyle and environmental factors, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal PLoS One.


International AIDS Conference Returns to U.S.

The 19th International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. in July 2012, the International AIDS Society announced Monday.

The decision to hold AIDS 2012 in the U.S. capital was made after President Barack Obama's October announcement that the nation would lift entry restrictions on people with HIV, effective Jan. 4, 2010.

The biennial conference was last held in the United States in 1990 in San Francisco.

"The return of the conference to the United States is the result of years of dedicated advocacy to end a misguided policy based on fear, rather than science, and represents a significant victory for public health and human rights," IAS President-Elect Dr. Elly Katabira, professor of medicine at Makerere University in Uganda, said in an IAS news release.

"AIDS 2012 will be a tremendous opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one anothers expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV," said Katabira, who will serve as the international chair of AIDS 2012.


South Africa Will Do More to Fight HIV/AIDS: President

All HIV-positive babies in South Africa will receive treatment, and testing for HIV will be expanded, President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday in a speech that marks a major shift in a nation where the previous government distrusted HIV/AIDS drugs.

Of the 50 million people in South Africa, about 5.7 million are infected with HIV, more than any other country, the Associated Press reported.

The new policy changes that will take effect in April 2010 will help HIV patients "live longer and more fulfilling lives," Zuma said in the speech on World AIDS Day.

He compared South Africa's fight against HIV/AIDS to the decades-long struggle against apartheid, the AP reported.

"At another moment in our history, in another context, the liberation movement observed that the time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight," Zuma said. "That time has now come in our struggle to overcome AIDS. Let us declare now, as we declared then, that we shall not submit."

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