Health Highlights: March 27, 2014

More Heartland Virus Cases Identified: CDC India is Polio-Free: WHO Jim Kelly's Cancer 'Treatable and Potentially Curable:' Hospital Drug Companies Will Phase Out Farm Animal Antibiotics Tampering of Weight-Loss Drug Alli Under Investigation

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

More Heartland Virus Cases Identified: CDC

Six more cases of a tick-borne disease called Heartland virus have been identified by federal and state health officials, bringing the total number to eight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The new cases were discovered in 2012 and 2013. Five of them occurred in Missouri and one in Tennessee. The first two cases of the virus were reported in two northwestern Missouri farmers who were hospitalized in 2009.

The six recent patients were all white men older than 50. Their symptoms included fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea and muscle pain. Four of them were hospitalized. One patient, who had other health problems, died. It's not known if he died due to Heartland virus or how much it contributed to his death.

Five of the six men said they had tick bites in the days or week before they became ill, according to an article in the March 27 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

By gathering detailed information about the patients, federal and state health officials are trying to learn more about Heartland virus disease, such as its symptoms and severity, where it's found, how people are infected, and how to prevent infections, the CDC said.


India is Polio-Free: WHO

Polio has been eradicated in India, according to the World Health Organization.

The agency officially declared the nation of 1.2 billion people to be polio-free on Thursday. It's been three years since India had a new case of the disease, the Associated Press reported.

The achievement means that the entire region of Southeast Asia -- which has a quarter of the global population -- is considered free of the vaccine-preventable disease.

At a ceremony in New Delhi, WHO official Poonam Khetrpal Singh said this is "a day that we have dreamt about," the AP reported.


Jim Kelly's Cancer 'Treatable and Potentially Curable:' Hospital

Former NFL star quarterback Jim Kelly's aggressive oral cancer is "very treatable and potentially curable," according to his doctors.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer's cancer was diagnosed last summer and recently returned. Surgery is not the best option, so he'll undergo chemotherapy and radiation, the New York Daily News reported.

Kelly will be treated at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

"Jim Kelly's condition remains very treatable and potentially curable," according to a statement from the hospital, the Daily News reported. "Our immediate focus is on controlling his pain and beginning the process of eradicating the cancer."

Surgery could "potentially" become an option later in Kelly's treatment, the hospital noted.


Drug Companies Will Phase Out Farm Animal Antibiotics

The use of antibiotics to boost growth in meat livestock is being voluntarily phased out by 25 drug companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

In December, the FDA asked 26 companies to stop promoting their antibiotics as suitable for increasing animal growth. The one company that refused to comply with the request was not named by the FDA, the Associated Press reported.

The 25 companies will either remove their antibiotics from animal use or change them so that they require a veterinarian's prescription.

Antibiotics are widely used by cattle, hog and poultry producers. The goal of eliminating the regular use of these drugs in farm animals is to reduce antibiotic-resistant infections in people, the AP reported.


Tampering of Weight-Loss Drug Alli Under Investigation

An investigation into tampering with bottles of the over-the-counter weight-loss drug Alli has been launched by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug company said that bottles in at least seven states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Texas -- had been tampered with but did not announce a formal recall, FoxBusiness reported.

Glaxo is asking consumers to alert the company if they've bought a bottle of Alli that looks suspicious. Signs of tampering include removed labels, a detached seal, mismatched expiration dates, and pills and capsules of different colors and sizes rather than the turquoise blue Alli capsules with a dark blue ring.

The company said the outside packaging on tampered bottles may still appear authentic, FoxBusiness reported.

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