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Health Highlights: June 2, 2020

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

Congo Ebola Outbreak Claims 5 Lives

The United Nations Children's Fund said Monday that five people have died of Ebola in a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CNN reported Tuesday.

One of the dead was a 15-year-old girl and a total of nine cases have been reported.

"Four additional people who contracted the virus -- all contacts of the deceased and including the child of one of the fatal cases -- are being treated in an isolation unit at the Wangata Hospital in Mbandaka," UNICEF said in a statement.

"The deaths occurred between the 18th and 30th of May but they were only confirmed as Ebola-related yesterday."

It's the DRC's 11th outbreak of Ebola. The country is still coping with an outbreak that began in 2018 and killed more than 2,200, CNN said.

"The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world's largest measles outbreak," the World Health Organization said in a statement.

The DRC has reported nearly 3,200 cases of coronavirus and 72 deaths and nearly 370,000 cases of measles with nearly 6,800 deaths since 2019, CNN reported.

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FDA Warns of Malfunction in Device Used to Stop Allergic Reactions

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that some lots of Amneal and Impax epinephrine auto-injector 0.3 mg may be missing the yellow "stop collar."

These devices inject lifesaving doses of epinephrine to counter a severe allergic reaction.

Some of these devices may not have the yellow "stop collar" which stops the device of giving a double dose of epinephrine.

To check if the stop collar is in place:

  • Take the auto-injector from the case and put it on a flat surface.
  • Find the "Peel here for further instructions."Lift the label to reveal the clear part of the auto-injector.
  • Look for the yellow "stop collar."
  • If it's is not visible, rotate the blue sheath remover, without pulling or removing it, see if the yellow "stop collar" is there.
  • If it is, the product is safe to use. Rewrap the label to its original position and put it into the carrying case.
  • If it isn't contact the Amneal Drug Safety Department at 1(877) 835-5472 to arrange to return the product.

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1 in 4 U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Occur in Nursing Homes

COVID-19 has killed more than 100,000 Americans and a quarter of these deaths were among people in nursing homes, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Almost 26,000 of the COVID-19 deaths were people in nursing homes, and that number is likely an underestimate and will increase, according to a new report made for U.S. governors.

These figures come from a letter from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that also says that nursing homes accounted for 60,000 cases of COVID-19, the AP noted.

"This data, and anecdotal reports across the country, clearly show that nursing homes have been devastated by the virus," CDC director Robert Redfield and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, wrote in the letter.

Even as restrictions ease experts expect more outbreaks.

"What is going on in a nursing home can be a barometer for where the virus is," Tamara Konetzka, a research professor at the University of Chicago, told the AP.

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Company Says Remdesivir Helps Moderately Sick COVID-19 Patientsl

The California-based pharmaceutical company Gilead announced that its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir improved symptoms of hospitalized patients suffering with moderate COVID-19, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Remdesivir is the only drug shown to help fight the COVID-19. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found the drug shorten recovery from 15 to 11 days in severely sick patients, the AP noted.

Given by IV, remdesivir interferes with a protein the virus needs to replicate itself and is approved in Japan as a treatment for COVID-19 and in the U.S. is for emergency use in some patients.

For the study, nearly 600 patients were assigned to five to 10 days of remdesivir. By the 11th day patients on five days of remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve, Gilead reported.

"when treating patients with severe disease -- those who require non-invasive supplemental oxygen -- 5 days of remdesivir led to similar improvements as a 10-day course. The totality of clinical data shows that remdesivir has the potential to meaningfully benefit patients with COVID-19 and offers important hope," the company said in a press statement.

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