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Health Highlights: July 30, 2009

Many Americans Take Naps: Survey Major Medicare Fraud Bust Targets 'Arthritis Kits' Mexico City May Offer 'Free' Medical Care to Tourists Study Examines Causes of Cattle-Related Deaths Dietary Supplements Recalled Perfume Sickens 144 People

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

Many Americans Take Naps: Survey

About one-third of American adults regularly take a daytime nap, according to a new national survey.

The rate of napping was even higher among people who'd exercised in the past 24 hours, those who had trouble sleeping the night before, blacks, men older than 50, men and women over 80, people who aren't happy, and poorer people, The New York Times reported.

Unemployed people were more likely to nap during the week than on weekends and employed people were only slightly more likely to have a nap on weekends, according to the Pew Research Center Social and Demographics Trends survey.

It also found that women were more likely than men to have trouble sleeping at night, along with people whose annual income is less than $20,000, and those dissatisfied with their personal financial situation, regardless of their income, the Times reported.


Major Medicare Fraud Bust Targets 'Arthritis Kits'

Doctors were among the more than 30 suspects arrested in a major Medicare fraud bust by more than 200 federal agents in New York, Louisiana, Boston and Houston.

Some of the businesses targeted in the raids gave patients "arthritis kits" that included heating pads and expensive knee and shoulder braces, the Associated Press reported. Even though the kits were unnecessary and many patients never received them, clinic owners billed Medicare between $3,000 and $4,000 for each kit.

Another scam targeted by federal authorities involved false billing for liquid food for patients who can't eat solid food. Clinic owners involved in the fraud never distributed the liquid food products to patients and, in some cases, billed Medicare for patients who were dead when they supposedly received the products, the AP reported.

This is the third major Medicare fraud action since May, when the U.S. Health and Human Services Department added millions of dollars and dozens of agents to deal with a problem that costs the country billions of dollars a year.


Mexico City May Offer 'Free' Medical Care to Tourists

Tourists to Mexico City may soon be eligible for free medical care should they encounter an accident or illness, courtesy of the local government.

The proposed plan is an effort to win back tourists after this year's H1N1 swine flu outbreak, and it will cover a range of conditions, including dental care and flu treatment, the New York Times reported.

"We want to send the message that Mexico City is a secure place that will protect its visitors," Alejandro Rojas Diaz, Mexico City's tourism secretary, told the Times. The details of the proposal note that treatment will be provided at "authorized establishments" and that in certain cases an unspecified deductible will be charged.


Study Examines Causes of Cattle-Related Deaths

Each year, about 20 people are killed by cattle on U.S. farms and working with cattle in enclosed spaces is the leading cause of such fatalities, says a new study.

Researchers studied media reports of cattle-related deaths in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska during 2003-08 and found that 33 percent of deaths occurred while the victims were working with cattle in enclosed spaces. Other circumstances included moving or herding cattle (24 percent), loading cattle (14 percent), and feeding (14 percent).

One-third of deaths were caused by animals that had previously exhibited aggressive behavior, said Wayne T. Sanderson, an associate professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa.

He said farmers need to take precautions to prevent close contact with cattle, especially those that are aggressive.

The study appears in the current Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Dietary Supplements Recalled

The dietary supplements STEAM and S-DROL are being recalled because they may contain ingredients not listed on the label, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The products are distributed by Nutracoastal Trading of Freeport, N.Y.

The FDA said STEAM may contain an ingredient found in erectile dysfunction drugs and S-DROL may contain a steroid. Both ingredients could interact with nitrates found in some prescription medicines and possibly cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure, the Associated Press reported.

In addition, the products may cause side effects such as flushing and headaches. There haven't been any reports of health problems suffered by people using the products.

Included in the recall are 60-tablet bottles of S-DROL, lot No. 810481, and five-capsule bottles of STEAM, lot No. 80214. They were sold in retail stores across the United States, the AP reported.

Consumers can call 866-803-2434 to get more information.


Perfume Sickens 144 People

Almost 150 people were sickened and 34 hospitalized after a worker sprayed perfume at bank call center in Fort Worth, Texas.

After receiving reports of dizziness and shortness of breath at the Bank of America call center, fire officials thought that carbon monoxide or another type of toxic fumes might be to blame, the Associated Press reported.

While 110 people were treated at the scene, 34 others were taken to hospital, including 12 who were transported by ambulance.

Investigators said they don't know what type of perfume was sprayed.

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