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Health Highlights: May 18, 2017

Suspected Congo Ebola Cases Increase to 18: WHO Mother Warns About Fidget Spinner Choking Hazard Talk to Doctor About Child's Lead Test, Pediatrician's Group Says

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

Suspected Congo Ebola Cases Increase to 18: WHO

The number of suspected Ebola cases in a Democratic Republic of Congo outbreak increased from nine to 18 in less than a week, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Three people have died from the disease so far in the outbreak that began April 22 in an isolated area in the northeastern part of the country, The New York Times reported.

WHO said the risk from the outbreak is "high at the national level" because the disease was so severe and spreading in a remote location with "suboptimal surveillance" and limited access to health care.

However, the global risk is low due to the remoteness of the area affected by the outbreak, according to health agency.

In addition to the suspected cases, WHO said about 400 people are being monitored, The Times reported.


Mother Warns About Fidget Spinner Choking Hazard

A Texas mother is warning other parents about the choking risk of fidget spinners after her daughter's close call.

The latest toy fad has a stable middle and a disc with two or three paddles that can be spun, CNN reported.

But in a Facebook post, Kelly Rose Joniec of Houston wrote she was on her way home recently when she heard her 10-year-old daughter Britton choking in the back seat. After pulling over, Joneic discovered that her daughter had swallowed one of the round metal bearings from her fidget spinner.

After attempting to dislodge the small piece of metal with the Heimlich maneuver, Joniec rushed Britton to the nearest urgent care center, but doctors couldn't pinpoint where the bearing had gotten stuck,CNN reported.

After Britton was transferred to Texas Children's Hospital, an X-ray showed that the bearing was in the girl's esophagus.

"Britton was taken to surgery to endoscopically locate and remove the object. Fortunately we had a positive outcome, but it was pretty scary there for a while...not only because of the initial ingestion, but then the concern about the composition and structure of the object, and finally, the risk with general anesthesia,"Joniec wrote in her post.

No updates about Britton's condition were available, CNN reported.


Talk to Doctor About Child's Lead Test, Pediatrician's Group Says

Parents whose children received a venous blood test for lead should talk to their child's doctor about whether another test is required, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The advice follows a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that venous blood lead tests conducted using Magellan LeadCare Testing Systems underestimate the amount of lead in blood samples.

"Most children are tested for lead poisoning with a finger or heel stick, which is not impacted by today's warning," AAP President Dr. Fernando Stein said in a news release.

"Parents of children age 6 and younger who have had a venous blood lead test, meaning blood was drawn from their arm, should talk with their pediatrician about whether their child needs to be re-tested. The AAP will work with our pediatrician members to provide those families impacted by today's warning with the resources and guidance they need to protect their children from lead exposure," Stein said.

"There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, and the best 'treatment' for lead poisoning is to prevent lead exposure before it happens," Dr. Jennifer Lowry, chair of the AAP's Council on Environmental Health, said in the news release.

"Pediatricians have an important role to play by asking questions about a family's risk for lead exposure. Children can be exposed to lead in a variety of ways, such as living in an older home or a home undergoing renovations, or in a home with lead pipes. Certain toys, hobbies and parents' occupations also increase the risk that a child could be exposed to lead, so it's important to talk with your pediatrician about how to lower your child's risk," Lowry said.

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