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Health Highlights: June 14, 2007

U.S. Lyme Disease Cases Jump EPA Studying Air Emissions From Livestock U.S. Program Seeks to Improve Community Cancer Care Counterfeit Colgate Toothpaste Recalled in 4 U.S. States Kellogg to Change Nutritional Content of Kid's Cereals, Snacks U.S. Launches Pilot Program to Boost Hispanic Elders' Health

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

Lyme Disease Cases Jump in U.S.

Reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States have more than doubled since 1991 and 93 percent of those cases have been reported in just 10 states, says this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1991, there were fewer than 10,000 reported cases of Lyme disease, which is transmitted primarily by ticks. By contrast during 2003-2005, there were 64,382 cases of Lyme disease reported in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

States with the most cases were: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

During 2003-2005, two age groups had the most cases of Lyme disease -- children ages 5-14 (10 cases per 100,000), and adults ages 55-64 (9.9 cases per 100,000).

Fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash can be among the early symptoms of Lyme disease. Left untreated, the infection can spread to the heart, joints, and nervous system.


EPA Studying Air Emissions From Livestock

The first nationwide study of air emissions from dairy, poultry and swine animal feeding operations (AFOs) was announced Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

During the two-and-a-half-year, $14.6 million study, researchers from eight universities will measure levels of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds, and other gases from livestock facilities.

The study will include 24 sites in nine states. The EPA says the findings will help it control emissions from AFOs.

"There has never been an agricultural air emissions study this comprehensive or long term," lead scientist Al Heber of Purdue University said in a prepared statement. "We don't know enough about what is being emitted into the atmosphere. This study will give the EPA the data it needs to make science-based decisions."


U.S. Program Seeks to Improve Community Cancer Care

A three-year pilot phase of a new program to bring state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in community hospitals across the country was launched Thursday by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The goal of the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program is to encourage collaboration between private-practice medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and a network of 63 NCI-designated Cancer Centers, principally based at large research universities.

The program will investigate new ways to assist, educate, and better treat underserved groups -- including elderly, rural, inner-city, and low-income cancer patients -- as well as racial/ethnic groups with unusually high rates of cancer.

The pilot phase of the program will begin at eight free-standing community hospitals and six additional hospitals operated by health care systems.


Counterfeit Colgate Toothpaste Recalled in 4 U.S. States

Counterfeit 5-ounce tubes of toothpaste with the Colgate label sold in discount stores in four U.S. states are being recalled because they may contain the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze.

The toothpaste was imported from South Africa and sold in discount stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Associated Press reported. The boxes containing the counterfeit Regular, Gel, Triple and Herbal toothpaste have "Made in South Africa" printed on them.

The company that imported the toothpaste, MS USA Trading, Inc. of North Bergen, N.J., said the chemical was detected during routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the company, there have been no cases of illness caused by the toothpaste, the AP reported.

Consumers who bought the toothpaste can return the product to the place of purchase for a refund, MS USA Trading said.

In a news release issued Thursday, Colgate-Palmolive said it does not use, and has never used, diethylene glycol as an ingredient in Colgate toothpaste anywhere in the world. The company said it's working closely with the FDA to identify the source of the counterfeit toothpaste, the AP reported.

In recent weeks, a number of countries have recalled Chinese-made toothpaste containing diethylene glycol.


Kellogg to Change Nutritional Content of Kid's Cereals, Snacks

In response to the threat of a lawsuit, U.S.-based Kellogg Co. has agreed to improve the nutritional content of the cereals and snacks it markets to children, the Associated Press reported.

The world's largest cereal maker faced a lawsuit by American parents and nutrition advocacy groups concerned about increasing rates of child obesity in the United States. In order to avoid a legal battle, Kellogg said it will not market foods in TV, radio, print or Web site ads to audiences that include at least 50 percent of people under age 12 unless a single serving of the product meets certain standards: no more than 200 calories; no more than 230 milligrams of sodium, except for Eggo frozen waffles; no trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat; no more than 12 grams of sugar, not counting sugar from fruit, dairy and vegetables.

The company said it would change products to meet these standards or stop marketing them to children under age 12 by the end of 2008, the AP reported.

Kellogg was expected to make a formal announcement Thursday about these and other changes in its marketing to children.


U.S. Launches Pilot Program to Boost Hispanic Elders' Health

A new program to improve the health and quality of life of Hispanic elders in the United States was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The initiative will use community partnerships to encourage Hispanic elders and their families to take advantage of new Medicare benefits, including prescription drug coverage, flu shots, diabetes screening and self management, cardiovascular screening, cancer screening, and smoke cessation services.

"Improving Hispanic Elders' Health: Community Partnerships for Evidence-Based Solutions" will be piloted in up to seven metropolitan areas with large Hispanic populations. Nine communities have been invited to apply to participate in the pilot project: Chicago, Ill.; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; McAllen, Texas; Miami, Fla.; New York, N.Y.; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, Calif.

A 2006 report by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said that there are persistent and growing health disparities between elderly Hispanics and elderly whites. By 2028, it's estimated that there will be 7.1 million Hispanics age 65 and older in the United States and they'll account for more than 10 percent of the nation's elderly population.

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