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Health Highlights: July 6, 2015

Stella & Chewy's Pet Products Recalled Measles Death First in U.S. in 12 Years Cheap Generic Drug Is Top-Selling Diet Pill, Despite Concerns

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

Stella & Chewy's Pet Products Recalled

A number of Stella & Chewy's pet food products are being recalled due to possible Listeria contamination.

A routine test found Listeria in a sample of the Milwaukee-based company's chicken freeze-dried dinner patties for dogs, the Associated Press reported.

Listeria can cause serious illness and even death in the elderly, the frail and children, and can trigger flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and diarrhea in healthy people.

The company said there have been no reported cases of human or pet illnesses, according to the AP.

A complete list of the recalled products is available at Stella & Chewy's website.


Measles Death First in U.S. in 12 Years

A Washington state woman who died of measles was vaccinated against the disease as a child but had a weakened immune system, according to a health official.

It was the first measles death in the United States in 12 years and the first in Washington state in 25 years, the Associated Press reported.

The woman did not have a rash or some of the other common symptoms of measles, so her illness wasn't discovered until an autopsy, Washington State Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer said.

The woman was vaccinated against measles as a child, but succumbed to the disease because she had other health problems and was taking medications that compromised her immune system, Dr. Jeanette Stehr-Green, the Clallam County health officer, told KOMO-TV in Seattle, the AP reported.

The woman's age was withheld to protect her identity, but she was not elderly, state health officials said. They also said she had a different strain of measles than the one associated with a recent outbreak that started at Disneyland.


Cheap Generic Drug Is Top-Selling Diet Pill, Despite Concerns

The decades-old generic drug phentermine is the best-selling diet medicine in the United States, despite the introduction of several new weight-loss drugs in recent years.

While phentermine is considered effective and relatively safe, the stimulant has a long history of misuse. However, federal regulators tend to overlook it and instead focus on deadlier drugs such as narcotic painkillers, The New York Times reported.

Phentermine was approved in 1959 and is now made by several drug companies. It accounts for 80 percent of diet drugs sold in the U.S., according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription drug use.

While newer diet drugs can cost hundreds of dollars a month and are sometimes not covered by insurance, phentermine often sells for about $30 a month and is easy to get, The Times reported.

Patients taking phentermine must be screened because the drug can worsen existing heart problems and can be abused by people with eating disorders. The drug is approved only for short-term use in obese people, in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.

However, many doctors prescribe phentermine to patients for long-term use and contend that the practice is safe, The Times reported.

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