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Health Highlights: Dec. 15, 2006

300 Reported Sick After Eating at Indianapolis Olive Garden FDA Warns of More Counterfeit Glucose Test Strips World's First Cloned Cat Has Kittens Americans Fattest People on Earth: U.S. Census U.S. Navy Wants to Test Blood Substitute on Civilians Animal Drug Tests Not Always Reliable: Study

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

300 Reported Sick After Eating at Indianapolis Olive Garden

Three people have been hospitalized and more than 300 people claimed they became ill after eating at an Indiana Olive Garden restaurant last weekend on Indianapolis' north side, a health official said Friday.

Health officials said they have so far found no link to E. coli bacteria, which sickened patrons at East Coast Taco Bell restaurants recently, Marion County Health Department spokesman John Althardt told the Associated Press.

Patrons reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Six restaurant workers also reported on Monday that they were feeling ill.

Health officials were collecting leftover food and stool samples from those stricken to try to pinpoint the source of the illness, Althardt said. A news release from the restaurant chain, based in Orlando, Fla., said the company is working with health officials to find the cause, according to AP.

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FDA Warns of More Counterfeit Glucose Test Strips

A updated warning about additional counterfeit blood glucose test strips being sold for use with the One Touch brand blood glucose monitors was issued Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The strips are used by people with diabetes to measure their blood glucose levels. An incorrect reading could result in a patient taking too much or too little insulin, potentially resulting in serious harm or death.

In October, the FDA issued an alert about several lots of counterfeit strips being sold in the United States. This additional counterfeit lot has the number 227078A on the outer carton, which is labeled as 50-count, and is being sold as One Touch, Basic, and Profile test strips.

Along with this newly identified counterfeit lot, the others are:

  • One Touch, Basic, Profile (lot numbers 272894A, 2619932, 2606340, 2615211)
  • One Touch, Ultra (lot numbers 2691191 and 2691261).

Consumers with counterfeit test strips should stop using them, replace them, and contact their doctor, the FDA said in a prepared statement. For more information about how to identify the counterfeit strips, the FDA said consumers should check the Web site of LifeScan, Inc. (www.lifescan.com), which makes the One Touch blood glucose monitors.

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World's First Cloned Cat Has Kittens

Copy Cat, the world's first cloned cat, had three kittens in September and did it the natural way. Mother (also known as CC) and kittens are doing well.

"They're cute, and we thought people ought to know about the birth. But we're hoping it doesn't cause the same frenzy CC did," Duane Kraemer, a veterinary medicine professor at Texas A&M University who helped clone CC in 2001, told the Associated Press.

Kraemer has been taking care of CC since she was cloned, a research first that received worldwide attention.

The father of CC's kittens is a natural born tabby named Smokey. One of the kittens has a gray coat like its father, while the other two take after their mother, the AP reported.

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Americans Fattest People on Earth: U.S. Census

Americans are the fattest people on the planet and spend more time than ever -- about eight-and-a-half hours a day -- on sedentary activities such as watching television, using computers, reading, listening to the radio, or going to the movies, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The information also reveals that Americans drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in 2004 (about 10 times as much as in 1980), and consumed more than twice as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980, The New York Times reported.

The snapshot of American life is contained in the 1,376 tables in the Census Bureau's 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States, which was released Friday by the federal government.

Not only are Americans getting fatter, they're getting taller. The Census Bureau figures show that more than 24 percent of Americans in their 70s are shorter than 5 feet, 6 inches, compared with 10 percent of those in their 20s, the Times reported.

Bicycles are involved in more accidents than any other consumer product and more Americans are injured by wheelchairs than lawnmowers, according to the abstract.

As health-care costs continue to increase, more Americans pray for their health than invest in all forms of alternative medicine or therapy combined, the Times reported.

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U.S. Navy Wants to Test Blood Substitute on Civilians

The U.S. Navy wants to test a blood substitute on civilian trauma victims without having to obtain the customary informed consent of patients in advance. The Navy says the blood substitute is desperately needed to save the lives of U.S. troops on the battlefield.

On Thursday, a Navy official told a panel of federal advisers that the Navy wants to test Hemopure, which is derived from cow blood, on about 1,100 civilian trauma victims, the Associated Press reported.

Hemopure would be given to patients, ages 18 to 69, who have lost dangerous amounts of blood. The patients would receive the blood substitute while they're being transported to a hospital.

Rear Admiral John Mateczun, the Navy's deputy surgeon general, told federal advisers that severe bleeding occurs in 68 percent of U.S troops in Iraq who die of trauma before reaching a hospital, the AP reported.

He said a blood substitute could save many of those troops.

Three times since 2005, safety concerns have prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to block trials of Hemopure, which is made by Biopure Corp. of Cambridge, Mass. Both Biopure and the Navy say the benefits of Hemopure outweigh the risks, the AP reported.

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Animal Drug Tests Not Always Reliable: Study

Drug tests on animals don't always produce reliable findings, says a U.K. study in the new issue of the British Medical Journal.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reviewed a number of human and animal studies of drug treatments for six conditions and found little consistent agreement between the findings of the human and animal trials, BBC News reported.

Study leader Professor Ian Roberts said he and his colleagues found that some animal studies are poorly conducted, such as involving too few animals, while others are affected by design or publication biases.

He suggested that animal experiments could be designed to better reflect human experience. Roberts also said animal testing is not relevant in some areas of drug research, BBC News reported.

"This is all about the predictive value of animal experiments. The debate over this issue is really quite hysterical. At the moment, there is too much emotion and not much science," Roberts noted. "Anti-vivisectionists say animal testing is of no use at all, and those who do them say we would have no safe and effective treatments if we didn't."

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