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Health Highlights: March 2, 2015

U.S. Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Sues Employer Leprosy Cases on the Rise in Two Florida Counties Antipsychotics Overprescribed to Seniors With Dementia: Report Nearly 1 Billion Teens, Young Adults at Risk for Hearing Loss: WHO

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

U.S. Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Sues Employer

An American nurse who contracted Ebola is suing her employer.

The lawsuit by Nina Pham against Texas Health Resources claims that the employer failed to provide Pham with the proper training and equipment needed to treat a patient with Ebola, CBS News reported.

As dayside primary nurse, Pham spent 12 to 14 hours a day treating Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. A few days after Duncan died, Pham tested positive for Ebola.

Pham, 26, believes her Ebola infection was a direct result of a lack of training, according to her attorney Charla Aldous, CBS News reported.

The lawsuit also alleges that Texas Health Resources violated Pham's privacy and used her as a "PR pawn."


Leprosy Cases on the Rise in Two Florida Counties

A Florida county is seeing a rare increase in leprosy cases, with three people diagnosed in five months.

Prior to the new cases, there was only one leprosy case diagnosed in Volusia County over the past decade, ABC News reported.

The recent rise in cases was unexpected, county health officials said. However, the incubation period for the disease ranges from nine months to 20 years, so they don't believe the three recent cases indicate a wave of new infections.

Nearby Brevard County has also had a recent rise in leprosy cases, with 18 diagnoses over the last five years. Eight people were diagnosed with leprosy in Florida last year, and three were from Brevard County, ABC News reported.

About 80 leprosy cases are reported in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Antipsychotics Overprescribed to Seniors With Dementia: Report

Antipsychotic drugs are being overused by seniors with dementia and Medicare needs to take immediate action to cut back on unnecessary prescriptions, U.S. government investigators say.

Doctors will prescribe antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients with disruptive behaviors such as yelling, screaming and hitting. Such prescriptions are common in nursing homes with too few staff, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report to be released Monday, The New York Times said.

The GAO -- an arm of Congress -- also noted that the Department of Health and Human Services "has taken little action" to decrease the use of antipsychotic drugs by seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia who don't live in nursing homes.

The Obama administration is already working with nursing homes to reduce their use of antipsychotic medications, The Times reported.

Antipsychotic drugs can increase the risk of death in seniors with dementia who also have psychosis, the Food and Drug Administration says.

"The report raises many red flags concerning the potential misuse and excessive use of antipsychotic drugs for patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias," said Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, The Times reported.


Nearly 1 Billion Teens, Young Adults at Risk for Hearing Loss: WHO

At least 1 billion teens and young adults are at risk for hearing loss from too much exposure to loud music, both on their smartphones and at concerts and sporting events, according to the World Health Organization.

So, the agency has recommended that listening to unsafe levels of music on personal audio listening devices be limited to one hour a day.

WHO also recommended that teens take listening breaks and lower the volume on their smartphones.

In its report, released Friday, WHO said volumes above 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes are unsafe.

In middle- and high-income countries, almost half of all those aged 12 to 35 listen to unsafe levels of music on their personal audio listening devices or smartphones, the WHO review found.

And almost 40 percent are also exposed to loud music at nightclubs, bars and sporting events, WHO added.

"As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, said in a WHO news release. "They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk."

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