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Health Highlights: June 12, 2015

MERS Claims 11th Life in South Korea Women Can Get Year's Worth of Birth Control Under New Oregon Law World's First Penile Transplant Patient to Become a Father

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

MERS Claims 11th Life in South Korea

An 11th person in South Korea has died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and two hospitals have been temporarily closed in an effort to stem the outbreak.

However, health officials said they believe the disease has peaked and will begin easing in coming days, the Associated Press reported.

That's because the maximum two-week incubation period for people infected with MERS at a Seoul hospital -- which is believed to be the main source of the outbreak -- ended Friday.

On Thursday, another hospital in Seoul and one in the southern city of Changwon were ordered to close after it was learned that MERS patients at the hospitals had contact with hundreds of people before they tested positive for the virus, the AP reported.

The Seoul hospital is scheduled to reopen June 23 and the Changwon hospital on June 24, officials said.

There is little danger of MERS spreading from the two hospitals because officials are quarantining people who had contact with infected patients and monitoring them, the AP reported.

About 2,790 schools and kindergartens across the country remained closed Friday.

Since the first case was reported last month, there have been more than 120 MERS cases in South Korea. The outbreak in that country is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, the AP reported.


Women Can Get Year's Worth of Birth Control Under New Oregon Law

A first-of-a-kind insurance law that allows women to obtain a year's worth of birth control at a time will take effect in Oregon on Jan. 1.

Supporters say that no longer limiting women to 30- or 90-day supplies will reduce unintended pregnancies and help women by reducing the number of trips they have to make to pharmacies, the Associated Press reported.

When she signed the legislation Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown said it "has a simple premise that I whole-heartedly believe in: increase access and decrease barriers."

The measure had an easy journey through the Legislature and is part of a push by both Democrats and Republicans to improve access to birth control in the state. They are also considering a popular proposal to allow pharmacists to write birth control prescriptions for women who pass a self-administered risk-screening assessment, the AP reported.

Opponents of the new law claim it will increase health care costs for employers and insurers.


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.

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