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Health Highlights: July 30, 2012

Devices Not Enough to Save Children Left in Overheated Cars: Report Ugandans Urged to Avoid Physical Contact as Ebola Kills 14 Recall Issued for Kitty Treats

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

Devices Not Enough to Save Children Left in Overheated Cars: Report

Devices aimed at preventing kids from dying in overheated cars may not work well enough to keep children from harm, a new review finds.

Parents shouldn't rely on special seats and other devices to stop them from accidently leaving children in cars, David Strickland, administrator for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said in a Monday press briefing, NBC News reported.

"While these devices are very well-intended, none of them are a full or complete solution for making sure a parent never leaves a baby behind in a hot car," Strickland said.

According to NHTSA, about 38 children die each year of heat stroke after being left in cars. The new report reviewed 18 commercial products, including pads that sense if a child is in a car seat; devices that can tell if a seatbelt is buckled and alarms that remind parents to check.

"The devices were inconsistent and unreliable in their performance," the researchers wrote in their report. "They often required adjusting of the position of the child within the child restraint, the distance to activation varied across trials and scenarios, and they experienced continual synching/unsynching during use."

The report also notes that "devices which integrate into a child restraint would not be applicable in scenarios where the child is playing and gets locked in the vehicle (30 percent of fatalities) or in a scenario where the parent/caregiver intentionally leaves the child in the vehicle (17 percent of fatalities)."

According to Strickland, parents can help ensure tragic heat stroke accidents in cars don't happen by using a few simple precautions. These include leaving a child's toy in the front seat as a reminder, putting a purse or briefcase in back seat so that the driver is forced to look in the back before exiting the car, or setting an alarm on the cellphone to remind yourself to check on a child's whereabouts.


Ugandans Urged to Avoid Physical Contact as Ebola Kills 14

As a lethal outbreak of Ebola spreads in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni urged citizens to avoid physical contact to limit the spread of the disease.

According to BBC News, 14 people, including one in the capital city of Kampala, have died from Ebola since the outbreak began three weeks ago in the western part of the country. Ebola is one of the most virulent and lethal infectious diseases in the world and is spread person to person.

Museveni said health officials are trying to identify and quarantine those people who've had contact with victims. He said people should avoid everyday contacts such as shaking hands, kissing or having sex to avoid passing the disease on.

Burials of people known to have died from Ebola should also be handled by health workers, Museveni said.

According to the BBC, Uganda has faced three Ebola outbreaks over the past 12 years, with the deadliest occurring in 2000 when 425 people were infected and more than half died.


Recall Issued for Kitty Treats

A voluntary recall has been issued for a brand of chicken treats for cats because of possible contamination with high levels of propylene glycol, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The recall was issued by Los Angeles-based treat maker Arthur Dogswell LLC late Friday, NBC News reported. It applies to the Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins treats, and comes on the heels of recent reports of more than 1,800 dogs getting sick after eating chicken jerky treats that were made in China.

Slightly more than 1,000 cartons of the treats will be pulled off the market, NBC News reported. The high levels of propylene glycol could cause anemia and oxidative damage in cats, although no illnesses have been reported, the company said.

Dogswell spokesman Brad Armistead told NBC News late Friday that the company hopes to return the products to the marketplace in the near future.

"We have voluntarily withdrawn a small number of chicken products for cats. This is an isolated situation and does not affect any other products for cats or dogs," Armistead said in a statement. "We are committed to providing safe and healthy products to our customers and their pet companions."

The FDA has repeatedly said it has tested pet treats in the United States for the presence of many toxins, including propylene glycol, but agency officials said they found no levels high enough to urge a product recall, NBC News reported.

Cat owners who bought the VitaKitty products should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, the company said. If the product was purchased online, consumers should contact the Internet retailer to pursue a specific return and refund.

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