Health Highlights: June 6, 2011

Test Shows No Link Between Organic Farm Sprouts, E. Coli Outbreak Jack Kevorkian, Proponent of Assisted Suicide, Dead at 83

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

Test Shows No Link Between Farm Sprouts, E. Coli Outbreak

Official test results released Monday did not show any link between sprouts grown on a German organic farm and a major E. coli outbreak in Europe, health officials said.

So far, 22 people have died and more than 2,200 have been sickened in the deadliest known E. coli outbreak in modern history, the Associated Press reported. The outbreak involves a highly aggressive, "super-toxic" strain of the bacteria.

Preliminary test results released Sunday had suggested that bean and other vegetable sprouts from a farm in the Uelzen region between Hamburg and Hanover were associated with E. coli infections in five German states.

Late Sunday, German Health Minister Daniel Bahr said that "while we have strong and clear indications that a farm in Uelzen is involved (in the E. coli outbreak), we have to wait for the official lab results," the AP reported.

The farm was shut down Sunday and officials recalled all of its produce, including herbs, fruits, flowers and potatoes. Two employees of the farm were among those infected with E. coli, the AP reported.

Consumers have been warned against eating any sprouts and a general warning remains in place for cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes.

The new test results, announced by the Lower-Saxony state agriculture ministry, mean that the exact cause of the outbreak remains unknown.

According to the AP, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that two prior reports of a similar strain of highly toxic E. coli have been recorded elsewhere. One case involved a 29-year-old South Korean woman, reported in 2006. The other, from 2009, involved a small cluster of cases in the Republic of Georgia.


Jack Kevorkian, Proponent of Assisted Suicide, Dead at 83

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, dubbed "Dr. Death" because of his support for assisted suicide, died Friday in a hospital outside of Detroit, the Associated Press reported.

Suffering from pneumonia and kidney problems, Kevorkian, 83, had been hospitalized since May. A close friend of his told the AP that Kevorkian was listening to his favorite music by Johann Sebastian Bach shortly before his death. The friend said he was conscious Thursday night and was looking ahead to discharge and rehabilitation.

Kevorkian, who claimed he assisted in more than 130 suicides, was an outspoken advocate for critically ill patients' right-to-die. He was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder and served eight years in a Michigan prison.


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