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Health Highlights: Jan. 8, 2015

Teen's Rights Not Violated by Forced Chemotherapy: Court Bird Flu Prompts Poultry Quarantine in Washington State Uninsured Rate Lowest in Years: Poll Measles Cases Linked to Disney Park Visits: California Officials

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

Teen's Rights Not Violated by Forced Chemotherapy: Court

A 17-year-old girl's rights are not being violated by forcing her to undergo cancer chemotherapy she says she doesn't want, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Jackie Fortin, the mother of the girl known in court documents only as Cassandra C., agreed with her daughter's decision to refuse chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma. The teen will be able to make her own medical decisions when she turns 18 in September, the Associated Press reported.

Cassandra was diagnosed with cancer in September and doctors said chemotherapy would give her an 85 percent chance of survival. Without chemotherapy, she was almost certain to die within two years.

The girl is confined in a room at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford and being forced to undergo chemotherapy, the AP reported.

After the court's decision, Fortin and her lawyer said they are considering their next move. Fortin said she wouldn't allow her daughter to die, and just wants to see alternative treatment that doesn't include putting the "poison" of chemotherapy into her daughter's body.

After Cassandra's diagnosis in September, she missed several medical appointments. That led doctors to notify child welfare officials, who were granted temporary custody of the girl. She underwent two days of chemotherapy in November but ran away for a week. Her treatment resumed in mid-December, the AP reported.


Bird Flu Prompts Poultry Quarantine in Washington State

An emergency quarantine for domestic poultry and eggs in the southeast part of Washington state has been implemented to control highly contagious bird flu, state officials say.

The quarantine that took effect Wednesday covers an area within 20 miles of two Benton County locations where backyard flocks of turkeys, chickens and ducks were found to have the disease, the Associated Press reported.

No poultry can be moved out of the quarantine areas, officials said.

The disease isn't dangerous to people, but is deadly to birds. The quarantine was implemented in an attempt to protect commercial poultry operations, the AP reported.


Uninsured Rate Lowest in Years: Poll

The percentage of Americans without health insurance is at its lowest in years, a new Gallup poll finds.

In the last three months of 2014, 12.9 percent of adults did not have coverage, That's the lowest rate since Gallup started daily tracking of the uninsured in 2008, before President Barack Obama took office, the Associated Press reported.

A year ago, 17.1 percent of adults did not have health coverage. The 4.2 percent decrease since then works out to at least 10 million uninsured people getting coverage, some analysts estimate.

"The Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage," according to Gallup.

While some may credit the improving economy for the decreasing number of uninsured Americans, "it's hard to deny that the sharp reduction in the uninsured in 2014 was anything but the law," Gary Claxton, of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, told the AP.

In related news, the Obama administration said Wednesday that nearly 103,000 people signed up for coverage last week in the 37 states where the federal government operates online health insurance markets.

That brings total enrollment for 2015 to 6.6 million in those states, according to the government. Other states are running their own health insurance exchanges.

The last day of open enrollment season in Feb. 15, and the Obama administration wants 9.1 million people signed up and paying premiums in 2015, the AP reported.


Measles Cases Linked to Disney Park Visits: California Officials

Seven people in California and two in Utah with confirmed cases of measles likely contracted the illness during visits to Disney theme parks in December, according to California health officials.

Another three other people in California are suspected to have the measles.

All of the people with confirmed or suspected measles visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure in Orange County between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20. Officials believe a person with measles was at one of the theme parks at the time, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

The seven California residents with confirmed cases of measles range in age from 8 months to 21 years and are from five different parts of the state. Six of them had not been vaccinated against measles.

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