Health Highlights: May 13, 2016
Puerto Rico Reports First Zika-Linked Fetal Birth Defect FDA Sends Stronger Warning on Side Effects of Powerful Antibiotics Urine Test Better at Detecting Zika Virus Infection: CDC
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Puerto Rico Reports First Zika-Linked Fetal Birth Defect
Health officials in Puerto Rico announced Friday that they had confirmed the first birth defect in a fetus tied to maternal infection with the Zika virus.
Confirmation came from testing of fetal tissue, which revealed the presence of the mosquito-borne virus, NBC News reported.
"CDC has confirmed the first case of Zika virus disease in a fetus in Puerto Rico," the agency said in a statement. "CDC conducted the laboratory test that confirmed the diagnosis and has shared the results with the Puerto Rico Department of Health."
Zika is known to be endemic in mosquitoes on the island, and more cases of birth defects such as microcephaly (abnormally small heads) in newborns are feared.
"This case of Zika virus disease in a pregnancy saddens and concerns us as it highlights the potential for additional cases and associated adverse pregnancy outcomes," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Few details were given about the reported case, and Puerto Rico officials did not reveal if the pregnancy ended in miscarriage or abortion, NBC News said.
"I want to urge any pregnant women with even the slightest concern of infection to go see a doctor," Puerto Rico Health Secretary Ana Rius said.
So far, Puerto Rico has recorded Zika infection in 18 pregnant women, as well as 27 cases of Zika infection where the person was sick enough to require hospitalization. The CDC says that 48 pregnant women in the United States have been confirmed to have a Zika infection, with 5 affected babies or fetuses being miscarried or having some evidence of birth defects such as microcephaly.
FDA Sends Stronger Warning on Side Effects of Powerful Antibiotics
Stronger warnings about the possible side effects of a powerful class of antibiotics were issued Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The agency said these side effects are concerning enough that doctors should not prescribe these drugs to people with sinusitis, bronchitis or uncomplicated urinary tract infections when they have other treatment options. Cipro is one of the most commonly prescribed medicines in this class of antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones.
Some of the reported side effects include pain in the tendons, joints or muscles, a "pins-and-needles" sensation, confusion and hallucinations. Anyone who experiences these symptoms while taking these drugs should contact their doctor immediately, the agency advised in a statement on its website.
The FDA had issued two previous warnings about some of the side effects associated with these drugs, in 2008 and 2013, but this is the first time the agency is recommending that doctors not prescribe them for certain patients.
Urine Test Better at Detecting Zika Virus Infection: CDC
In what could signal a significant advance in the fight against Zika virus, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday that urine tests seem far more effective at detecting the infection than a traditional blood test.
If subsequent trials come to the same conclusion, the urine test could make it much easier to test for the mosquito-borne illness, which usually causes mild symptoms in most people but can cause devastating birth defects in newborns whose mothers have been infected.
There's been an epidemic of Zika infections in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last year. Brazil has been especially hard hit, with nearly 5,000 confirmed or suspected cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains.
Mosquito season is just beginning in Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas, and health officials say it's just a matter of time before mosquitoes start to spread the disease in the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday on head-to-head testing done in Florida on people with suspected Zika infection. Officials found that a urine test was 95 percent effective at spotting Zika infection, compared to 56 percent for a blood test.
Also, a urine test could still detect the virus up to two weeks after the appearance of symptoms, compared to about one week for a blood test.