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Health Highlights: Feb. 6, 2015

Slight Rise in Ebola Cases: WHO FDA Commissioner to Retire in March

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

Slight Rise in Ebola Cases: WHO

For the first time this year, there has been a slight rise in the number of Ebola cases in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

There were 124 confirmed Ebola cases last week, compared with 99 the week before, the WHO said in an online update.

"A rise in incidence shows that the (Ebola) response still faces significant challenges," the agency said.

The organization also warned that the upcoming rainy season could hamper efforts to contain the deadly disease, the Associated Press reported.

WHO also noted ongoing problems tracking the spread of Ebola. Only 21 percent of new cases in Sierra Leone and about half of new cases in Guinea were from known contacts, which means health officials don't know the sources of infection for many new patients, the AP reported.

So far, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 9,000 people.


FDA Commissioner to Retire in March

U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Margaret Hamburg will retire from the position in March, the agency has announced.

Over the past six years, Hamburg has worked to speed approval of breakthrough drugs and oversaw new initiatives on food safety and tobacco regulation, the Washington Post reported.

"As you can imagine, the decision was not easy," she said in a statement. "While there is still work ahead (and there will always be), I know that I am leaving the agency well-positioned to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public with great success."

Until President Barack Obama names a permanent successor, the FDA's top job will be filled by Stephen Ostroff, the agency's chief scientist and a former official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported.

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