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Health Highlights: June 20, 2014

Number of Veterans Waiting for VA Appointments Grows Ebola in West Africa 'Out of Control,' Doctors Without Borders says Velveeta Recalled From Walmart Stores Renowned Autism Researcher Dies New Tests For Football Helmets Could Help Reduce Concussions

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

Number of Veterans Waiting for VA Appointments Grows

More than 10 percent of veterans are waiting at least 30 days for an appointment at Veterans Affairs health centers, which is more than double what was initially reported, new VA data shows.

The new figure is unfortunate but likely indicates that more reliable data is being reported by VA schedulers, according to Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, USA Today reported.

The VA has contacted about 70,000 veterans in an effort to get them quicker care, Gibson said. The newly-released data shows that 200,000 more veterans are waiting for an appointment than in the initial audit released two weeks ago. This shows that veterans who previously were unable to get care are now entering the system.

The audit released earlier in June said that as of May 15, there were 57,436 veterans who had waited 90 days to see a doctor and still did not have an appointment, and that in the past 10 years, nearly 64,000 veterans who sought VA care were never seen by a doctor, USA Today reported.

As of June 1, that number had been cut to 46,000, according to the new data.


Ebola in West Africa 'Out of Control,' Doctors Without Borders says

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is "totally out of control," and more assistance from international organizations and governments is needed, according to a senior official with the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

The organization is stretched to the limit in its efforts to respond to the outbreak, Bart Janssens, the director of operations for Doctors Without Borders, told the Associated Press.

Since it began either late last year or early this year, the outbreak has been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization.

"The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave," Janssens told the AP. "And, for me, it is totally out of control."

He said international groups and governments involved in the outbreak need to provide more health experts and boost public education messages about how to halt the spread of the deadly disease.


Velveeta Recalled From Walmart Stores

Velveeta cheese products are being recalled from Walmart stores in as many as a dozen states because they don't have an adequate amount of preservatives, Kraft Foods Group Inc. says.

The company said insufficient levels of sorbic acid in the 260 recalled cases of Velveeta original pasteurized recipe cheese product could cause it to spoil prematurely or trigger food-borne illnesses in people who eat it, the Associated Press reported.

The recalled cases were shipped to three Walmart distribution centers in as many as 12 states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The recalled packages have the code 021000611614, a date stamp that reads "17 DEC 2014" and a timeframe of between 10:54 and 14:35, the AP reported.


Renowned Autism Researcher Dies

A British psychiatrist who played a major role in improving understanding of autism died earlier this month.

Dr. Lorna Wing is widely credited with identifying autism as a disorder with a wide range of related problems, rather than a single condition, The New York Times reported.

She also gave the mildest form of autism -- Asperger's syndrome -- it's name after she rediscovered the work of Hans Asperger, the Austrian psychiatrist who first described this type of autism in 1944.

Wing died June 6 in Kent, England from complications of Alzheimer's disease. She was 85. Her death was announced by the National Autistic Society, which Wing helped found in Britain in 1962, The Times reported.


New Tests For Football Helmets Could Help Reduce Concussions

New testing standards for football helmets are expected to be announced Friday by the organization that sets safety standards for athletic equipment.

It's part of a growing effort to reduce concussions in football and other contact sports, the Associated Press reported.

Currently, football helmets are tested for how they protect against direct blows that can cause the brain to bump back and forth inside the skull. The new standard would test helmets for the level of protection they provide against impacts that make a player's head suddenly spin and cause the brain to stretch and twist.

"We're plowing new ground here," Mike Oliver, executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, told the AP.

The committee hopes the new standard, which will apply only to new helmets, will lead to safer helmet designs.

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