Health Highlights: June 1, 2017

Florida Reports First Dog Flu Cases Opioid Overdose Remedy Being Carried for Police Dogs More Than 500 Californians Given Life-Ending Drugs Since New Law Took Effect

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

Florida Reports First Dog Flu Cases

The first cases of dog flu in Florida have been found at the University of Florida, state health officials say.

Along with the seven confirmed cases of H3N2 canine influenza, there are another six pending cases of the disease, USA Today reported.

The affected dogs are in stable condition.

Two years ago, the first cases of the potentially fatal disease in the United States occurred in about 10 other states, including about 1,000 dogs in Chicago, USA Today reported.

There is no evidence that dog flu can infect humans, but it can spread to cats, according to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Most dogs aren't immune to the disease, but there is a vaccine.

Dog flu originated as a bird flu virus that adapted and spread to dogs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It was first detected in South Korea in 2007, USA Today reported.


Opioid Overdose Remedy Being Carried for Police Dogs

An opioid overdose treatment for police dogs is being carried by officers in some U.S. police forces.

The drug naloxone has been used for years to reverse opioid overdoses in humans. But narcotics-sniffing dogs who inhale opioids are at high risk of death, so some law enforcement agencies have started carrying naloxone when K-9s are sent into houses or cars to find drugs, the Associated Press reported.

For example, Massachusetts State Police started carrying naloxone for their K-9s in March, and police in Hartford, Connecticut, started in January. In both people and dogs, naloxone can be given as a nasal spray or injection.

"Dogs are not looking for drugs with their eyes and feeling with their fingers; they're literally breathing it in and inhaling it," Brian Foley, deputy chief in Hartford, told the AP.

"Our officers wanted it for their dogs' safety," he said. "They love their dogs like family and they want to protect them. They know they're putting them in the line of serious risk of overdose."


More Than 500 Californians Given Life-Ending Drugs Since New Law Took Effect

Prescriptions for life-ending drugs have been sought by at least 504 terminally ill people in California since physician-assisted deaths became legal in June 2016, according to the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

That number represents only people who have contacted the organization, which says the overall figure in the state is likely much higher, the Associated Press reported.

The data released Thursday is the first publicly available number in California. State officials have not released any figures.

The effect of the law in the nation's most populous state could be an indicator of what would happen if the practice was implemented nationwide, according to the AP.

In California, 498 health care facilities and 104 hospice centers have policies allowing for life-ending drug prescriptions, and more than 80 percent of insurance companies in the state cover the cost of the drugs, Compassion & Choices said.

"We won't have the full picture until the state releases its data about how many people have utilized the law, but we have enough evidence to show it is working remarkably well in a state with 10 times Oregon's population," said Matt Whitaker, the group's California director, the AP reported.

"The personal stories of the people who have utilized the law show it has provided comfort and relief from intolerable suffering, just as the state Legislature intended it to do," he added.

Physician-assisted deaths are also legal in Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C., the AP reported.

In 1997, Oregon became the first state to introduce this type of law. In 2016, prescriptions for life-ending drugs were given to 204 people in the state. Of those, 133 people died from taking the drugs, including 19 who received prescription in previous years. Most of the patients were older than 65 and had cancer.

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