Health Highlights: May 9, 2017
Jimmy Kimmel Resumes Call for Equal Health Care Herbal Tea From Deer Antler Exports Recalled Due to Botulism Risk Minnesota Measles Outbreak Blamed on Anti-Vaccine Groups Contagious Bacteria Linked to Outbreak in Liberia
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Jimmy Kimmel Resumes Call for Equal Health Care
Jimmy Kimmel resumed his call for equal access to health care for all Americans when he returned to his late-night TV show on Monday.
Kimmel took a week off as his baby Billy recovers from open-heart surgery. Before his break, he argued that all Americans deserve the level of health care given his infant son, but was criticized by some, ABC News/Associated Press reported.
"I made an emotional speech that was seen by millions, and as a result of my powerful words on that night, Republicans in Congress had second thoughts about repeal and replace" of the Affordable Care Act, he joked on his show Monday night. "I saved health insurance in the United States of America!"
"What's that? I didn't save it? They voted against it anyway?" Kimmel added, CBS News/AP reported.
The Republican-controlled House approved the GOP's American Health Care Act last week.
Kimmel dismissed those who labeled him an elitist, noting that as a child, his family bought powdered milk because they couldn't afford fresh. He then pretended to be sorry for his previous comments.
"I'd like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care. It was insensitive, it was offensive, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me," Kimmel said, ABC News/AP reported.
He said a claim by Rep. Newt Gingrich that all children who needed it would receive the same surgery as Kimmel's son in an emergency did not take into account follow-up health care.
"That's terrific if your baby's health problems are all solved during that one visit. The only problem is that never, ever happens. We've had a dozen doctor's appointments since our son had surgery," Kimmel said, ABC News/AP reported.
Herbal Tea From Deer Antler Exports Recalled Due to Botulism Risk
Herbal tea in plastic pouches has been recalled by U.S. Deer Antler Exports and Imports Inc. of Los Angeles due to the risk of botulism, the California Department of Public Health says.
Consuming botulism toxin from improperly processed liquid teas could cause serious illness and death. The state health department is investigating two possible cases of botulism in Orange County residents who consumed the herbal tea products in March.
The recalled 6-inch by 4-inch plastic tea pouches contain labeling in Korean but do not include lot codes or best by dates. They were sold to acupuncturists and individuals in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Botulism toxin is odorless and colorless, so consumers can't determine if their tea pouches are affected. Customers with these products, or any foods made with these products, should throw them away by double bagging them into tightly-closed plastic bags and placing them in non-recyclable trash bins outside of the home, the California health department advised.
Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling the products or wash your hands with soap and running water for at least two minutes.
People who have any ill effects after consuming these products should immediately consult their health care providers, the health department said.
Minnesota Measles Outbreak Blamed on Anti-Vaccine Groups
Vaccine skeptics are to blame for Minnesota's largest measles outbreak in decades, health officials say.
At least 48 people, nearly all children, have been infected, and 11 youngsters have been hospitalized with pneumonia and other serious complications of measles, according to the state health department, NBC News reported.
More cases are expected, according to health officials.
They said concerns of a link between measles vaccination and autism were stoked by vaccine skeptics.
"What we have now is a community that was really influenced by these anti-vaccine groups. And they've performed a natural experiment: to forgo the measles vaccine based on this propaganda," David Johnson, program manager with the Hennepin County Health Department, told NBC News.
Somali immigrants have been hardest hit in the outbreak.
"We've seen that the vaccine rates in the community that's being affected right now were once about the same or even a little higher than our average. They've dropped to about half of that," Johnson said.
"And unfortunately now we are seeing the result. Measles is spreading rapidly in the community and 11 children are hospitalized. And at the same time there is no evidence of any corresponding drop in autism in the community," he told NBC News.
The only positive aspect of the outbreak is that it shows that anti-vaccine activists are wrong, according to health officials.
Contagious Bacteria Linked to Outbreak in Liberia
At least some cases of a mysterious outbreak in the West African nation of Liberia are due to contagious bacteria that can cause brain infections (meningitis) and blood infections, according to U.S. health officials.
There have been 31 illnesses reported in the outbreak, including 13 deaths, the Associated Press reported.
The bacteria, called Neisseria meningitidis, is spread through close contact with infected people. Nearly all the patients attended a funeral in southeastern Liberia on April 22.
Health officials initially suspected Ebola as the cause of the outbreak, but that was ruled out, the AP reported.