Health Highlights: June 12, 2019

New Facebook Feature Aims to Boost Blood Donations Ebola Spreads Beyond Congo, Claims First Life in Uganda FDA Outlines Path to E-Cigarette Approval

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

New Facebook Feature Aims to Boost Blood Donations

Facebook wants to help people who want to donate blood connect with local blood banks.

The new feature helps users to find places to give blood where they live and also notify them when blood is needed, CNN reported.

Users can sign up for the service in the "about section" of their profile.

"In five U.S, cities, we're going to put a notice right at the top of News Feed, asking people to register if they want to," Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told CNN.

The first cities are Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington. Facebook plans to roll out the feature throughout the country in the next few months.

"Then, if there's a blood shortage in your city, our partners like the American Red Cross can notify you and give you an opportunity to donate," Sandberg said. "This is an opportunity for us, we think, to help people contribute to each other in a way that's really important."

Similar programs are already operating in India, Pakistan, Brazil and Bangladesh, and more than 35 million people have signed up, according to Facebook.


Ebola Spreads Beyond Congo, Claims First Life in Uganda

In a setback to health workers trying to contain the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first three cases of the often fatal virus has been confirmed across the boarder in Uganda.

The cases are three family members who crossed into Uganda from Congo, including a 5-year-old boy who died, the Associated Press reported.

The two other cases are the boy's 3-year-old brother and 50-year-old grandmother. They have been isolated in a hospital.

Officials want to find out how this family was able to cross a border where millions of people have been screened for months, the AP says.

To date, more than 2,000 Ebola cases and 1,400 deaths have occurred in the Congo.

That the disease has spread across the border is "tragic but unfortunately not surprising," Dr. Jeremy Farrar with the Wellcome Trust, told the AP.

"We can expect and should plan for more cases in (Congo) and neighboring countries. This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon," he said.


FDA Outlines Path to E-Cigarette Approval

On Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave makers of e-cigarettes clearer directions on getting their new products approved.

To get FDA approval companies have to prove that their products "would be appropriate for the protection of the public health,"CNN reported.

The agency's action comes a month after a federal judge ordered the FDA to expedite its review of the vaping products already being sold.

It took a lawsuit from many health and antismoking advocates to force the agency to act. The lawsuits claim is that the FDA was in violation of the law by allowing companies to sell these products until 2022, before they had to seek approval.

Dr. Ned Sharpless, FDA's acting commission, acknowledged in a statement that: "There are no authorized e-cigarettes currently on the market."

According to the agency, its job is judge how these products affect behavior. Specifically, if nonsmokers will start using e-cigarettes and if e-cigarettes do help people quit tobacco cigarettes.

In addition, the FDA plans to analyze what ingredients are in these products, how they are made and how they are sold and labeled.

The review might look at risks such as exploding batteries and nicotine poisoning of kids, CNN said.

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