Health Highlights: June 11, 2015
World's First Penile Transplant Patient to Become a Father 'Flesh-Eating' Bacteria Warnings for Florida Beaches Likely Source of Listeria Contamination Identified at Blue Bell's Oklahoma Plant Genetic Characteristics of Brain Tumors Key to Treatment: Studies Ebola Cases on the Rise Again: WHO
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
World's First Penile Transplant Patient to Become a Father
The first man in the world to receive a penile transplant is about to become a father.
The 21-year-old South African's girlfriend is about four months' pregnant, which shows that the "transplant worked," said Andre van der Merwe, the surgeon who performed the procedure, BBC News reported.
The nine-hour operation to attach the new penis was performed in December. The patient, whose identity is being protected, lost most of his penis due to a bungled circumcision.
Van der Merwe said he was "very pleased" when he learned about the pregnancy and did not request a paternity test because there was no reason not to believe that the transplant patient was not the father, BBC News reported.
'Flesh-Eating' Bacteria Warnings for Florida Beaches
At least seven people in Florida have been infected and two have died so far this year from a harmful bacteria that thrives in warm saltwater, a state health official says.
Vibrio vulnificus grows the fastest when the temperature is between 68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and most cases of infection occur between May and October, ABC News reported.
The bacteria typically causes gastroenteritis, but it can also lead to blood infections, experts say. If it comes in contact with an open wound, the infection kills tissue and life-saving amputations may become necessary.
"People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish," Florida Health Department spokeswoman Mara Burger said in a statement Thursday. "Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater."
Last year, 32 people were infected in Florida and seven of them died, according to the state health department, ABC News reported.
Likely Source of Listeria Contamination Identified at Blue Bell's Oklahoma Plant
Listeria contamination at Blue Bell Creameries' Oklahoma plant is likely linked to equipment and sealed-ingredient buckets stored in a non-sanitary room, but a single source of listeria contamination at its Texas plant has not been pinpointed, according to the company.
Also, surface areas tested at Blue Bell's Alabama plant were contaminated with the most serious form of listeria, according to documents submitted to the FDA that outline how the company plans to correct the problems, the Associated Press reported.
The plants were inspected by the FDA after the Texas-based company's ice cream was linked to listeria illnesses in four states and three deaths in Kansas.
Blue Bell issued a recall in April and halted production at its Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama plants. Contaminated products have been found at the Texas and Oklahoma plants, the AP reported.
Genetic Characteristics of Brain Tumors Key to Treatment: Studies
Treatment of brain tumors can be improved by first determining their genetic features, rather than the current standard practice of analyzing tissue samples under a microscope, according to two new studies.
Experts say the findings published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine are an important advance in what's called precision medicine, in which cancer treatments are individualized according to the genetic characteristics of patients' tumors, The New York Times reported.
This approach could change the way that thousands of brain tumor patients are diagnosed and treated.
"Prognosis is going to be more accurately delineated by these kinds of genetic subtypes, outstripping the value of looking through a microscope," Dr. David Langer, chief of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told The Times He was not involved in the studies.
The use of genetics to help guide treatment is already being used with other types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.
Each year, about 23,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain cancer and about 14,000 die from the disease. The two new studies focused on gliomas, which account for about one-third of brain cancer cases in the U.S., The Times reported.
Ebola Cases on the Rise Again: WHO
After a long period of decline, the number of Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone started rising again in recent weeks, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
"In recent weeks, the decline in case incidence and the contraction of the geographic area affected by Ebola virus disease transmission that was apparent throughout April and early May has stalled," WHO said in its latest update, NBC News reported.
"In total, 31 confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in the week ending 7 June: 16 cases in Guinea and 15 in Sierra Leone. This is the second consecutive weekly increase in case incidence, and the highest weekly total number of cases reported from Sierra Leone since late March."
WHO also said the sources of some of the new Ebola cases are unclear, NBC News reported.
More than 27,000 people have been infected and more than 11,000 of them have died so far in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.