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Health Highlights: Feb. 12, 2015

California's Assisted Suicide Ban Faces Legal Challenge San Francisco BART Commuters May Have Been Exposed to Measles New Law Aims to Reduce Suicides Among U.S. Veterans

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

California's Assisted Suicide Ban Faces Legal Challenge

A legal challenge against California's ban on assisted suicide has been launched by a cancer patient and five doctors.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court seeks an exemption for physicians who help terminally-ill patients end their lives, the Associated Press reported.

Doctors who assist these patients are not helping them commit suicide, but rather giving them the option of a peaceful death, according to the plaintiffs.

"This case is about letting the patient, the individual, script the last bit of their journey through life," Kathryn Tucker, a lawyer involved in the lawsuit, said at a news conference, the AP reported.

The cancer patient involved in the lawsuit is 53-year-old Christie White. She said if her leukemia returns, her medical options will be limited she and wants to be able to choose to die peacefully in her home.

"I do not want to have to leave my husband, my family and my friends and move to Oregon," White said at the news conference, the AP reported.

Oregon is one of five states that allow patients to seek aid in dying. The others are Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.


San Francisco BART Commuters May Have Been Exposed to Measles

Transit users in Northern California are being told they may have been exposed to the measles by an infected passenger.

A person diagnosed with the measles rode Bay Area Rapid Transit trains between Lafayette and San Francisco during the morning and evening commutes Feb. 4 through Feb. 6, according to Contra Costa County public health officials, the Associated Press reported.

The person -- believed to be a LinkedIn employee -- also ate at the E&O Kitchen and Bar on Feb. 4, officials said Wednesday.

They warned that unvaccinated people who had contact with the infected person are at "high risk" of developing the measles, and should seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms such as high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery red eyes, the AP reported.

A person infected with the measles is contagious for several days before and after they develop the rash associated with the disease.

It's "highly unlikely" that vaccinated commuters are at risk of contracting measles, officials said, and people born before 1957 are considered immune.

In related news, Nevada health officials said Wednesday that anyone who ate last week at Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino may have been exposed to the measles, the AP reported.

Measles was confirmed this week in a worker at the restaurant, the Southern Nevada Health District said.

Since a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland was first reported in December, the disease has been confirmed in more than 100 people in California, with additional cases in several other states and Mexico, the AP reported.


New Law Aims to Reduce Suicides Among U.S. Veterans

A bill meant to reduce suicides among American veterans will be signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act establishes a pilot program to help veterans as they leave active duty and a website that offers veterans information about mental health services, the Associated Press reported.

The bill also creates a three-year pilot program to help Veterans Affairs recruit psychiatrists by offering them student loan repayments, and requires the VA's suicide prevention programs to be evaluated each year by a third party.

The bill was approved by Congress with broad bipartisan support, the AP reported.

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