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Health Highlights: Feb. 16, 2015

Schools Reopen in Ebola-Stricken Liberia Nutrisca Dog Food Recalled New, Aggressive HIV Strain in Cuba U.S. Govt. Approves Genetically Modified Apples

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

Schools Reopen in Ebola-Stricken Liberia

After being closed for more than six months due to the Ebola outbreak, schools in Liberia reopened on Monday.

The United Nations Children's Fund said strict safety protocols are in place to protect students, including taking their temperatures when they arrive at school and ensuring they wash their hands before taking their seats, MSNBC reported.

"We don't expect all schools to reopen immediately," Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF's regional director for West and Central Africa, said in a statement. "Typically it can take up to a month before the majority of students are back in the classroom. Throughout that period, education authorities will be working to ensure that conditions are safe as possible."

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 3,800 people in Liberia in the past year and more than 9,000 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea combined, but the number of new cases is falling and is at its lowest levels in seven months, according to the World Health Organization, MSNBC reported.


Nutrisca Dog Food Recalled

Four-pound bags of Nutrisca Chicken and Chick Pea Recipe Dry Dog Food have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

The recalled bags were distributed nationwide and have the UPC Code "8 84244 12495 7" on lower back of the bag. The bags of recalled dog food also have Best By Dates of Jul 28 16, Jul 30 16, Jul 31 16, Aug 03 16, Aug 04 16, Aug 05 16, and Lot Codes (upper back of the bag) with the following first five digits: 4G29P, 4G31P, 4H01P, 4H04P, 4H05P, 4H06P.

Salmonella-contaminated pet food can cause illness in pets who eat it and in people who handle it.

Consumers with the recalled bags of dog food should stop using it and dispose of it in a securely covered garbage container. For more information, contact Nutrisca at 1-888-559-8833.


New, Aggressive HIV Strain in Cuba

A new, highly-aggressive HIV strain has been identified in some patients in Cuba, according to researchers.

They said untreated infection with the CRF19 strain -- a combination of HIV subtypes A, D and G -- can develop into AIDS within three years, and that progression occurs so quickly that treatment with antiretroviral drugs may come too late, United Press International reported.

People with untreated HIV infection typically develop AIDS within 5 to 10 years.

The CRF19 strain does respond to most antiretroviral drugs, but people with the strain may not realize they have AIDS until it's too late, according to the study in the journal EBioMedicine.

The CRF19 strain of HIV has been detected in Africa, but there have been too few cases of it to be fully studied. The researchers said the strain is more common in Cuba, UPI reported.


U.S. Govt. Approves Genetically Modified Apples

Genetically modified apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or opened were approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday.

The apples, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Canada, will be available in small quantities by late 2016. But consumers will probably have to wait at least another year before enough trees are planted to produce significant amounts of the apples, The Des Moines Register reported.

The so-called Arctic apple should prove attractive to restaurants, grocery stores, airlines and other companies that offer pre-sliced fruit, said Okanagan co-founder Neal Carter, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"We really know that getting the consumer to buy in to the product and the technology has to be the priority," Carter said. The company plans to market two varieties of the apple -- the Arctic Granny and the Arctic Golden, new versions of the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, the Journal reported.

The prospect of such genetically modified foods is not without controversy.

Some apple industry executives worry that biotech apples, while safe to eat, will meet with resistance from some consumers. They're also concerned that the new apples might hurt exports of apples to countries opposed to genetically modified foods, The New York Times reported.

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