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Health Highlights: Nov. 18, 2008

Nearly Half of Primary-Care Docs Dissatisfied: Survey New Drug-Resistant Bacteria Spreading: Report Burlington, Vt. 'Healthiest' U.S. City Scientists Working on Skin Cancer Vaccine

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

Nearly Half of Primary-Care Docs Dissatisfied: Survey

A new U.S. survey found that 49 percent of 11,950 primary care physicians said they want to stop practicing or reduce their patient loads during the next three years due to frustration caused by having to deal with non-clinical paperwork, difficulties being reimbursed by insurance companies, and too many government regulations.

"Tens of thousands of primary care doctors face the same problems as millions of ordinary citizens: frustrations in dealing with HMOs and government red tape," said Sandra Johnson, a board member of the Physicians' Foundation, which released the survey, United Press International reported.

"The thing we heard over and over again from the physicians was that they're unhappy they can't spend more time with their patients, which is why they went into primary care in the first place," Johnson said in a news release.

The survey also found that 78 percent of respondents believe there's an existing shortage of primary care doctors in the United States, UPI reported.


New Drug-Resistant Bacteria Spreading: Report

A new type of drug-resistant bacteria called Acinotobacter baumannii is becoming increasingly common in hospitals and other health care facilities, Greek researchers warn.

Their analysis of data showed that nearly a third of cases involving infection by A. baumannii have shown resistance to frontline antibiotics, Agence France Presse reported.

"Institutional outbreaks caused by multidrug-resistant strains are a growing public health problem," co-authors Drosos Karageorgopoulos and Matthew Falagas, of the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, wrote in The Lancet.

They cited a 2004 study of 24,000 cases of hospital patients whose bloodstream became infected by A. baumannii. The overall death rate was 34 percent, while the death rate among intensive care patients was 43 percent, AFP reported.

The study authors said urgent measures must be taken to prevent A. baumannii outbreaks in health care facilities and to identify drugs and drug combinations that are most effective in fighting the bacteria.


Burlington, Vt. 'Healthiest' U.S. City

The healthiest city in the United States is Burlington, Vt., while the unhealthiest is Huntington, W. Va., according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The report found that Burlington (population 40,000) had the highest proportion of people (92 percent) who said they're in good or great health. Vermont's largest city is also among the best in exercise and among the lowest in obesity, diabetes and other measures of poor health, the Associated Press reported.

Census Bureau data show that the average age in Burlington is 37, compared to 40 in Huntington. Eight percent of Burlington residents live at the federal poverty level, compared to 19 percent in Huntington. Nearly 40 percent of Burlington area residents have at least a college degree, compared to 15 percent in the Huntington area, the CDC said.

Hiking, cycling, skiing and other types of physical activity are common in Burlington, which also offers a good selection of healthy foods in its restaurants and grocery stores, the AP reported.


Scientists Working on Skin Cancer Vaccine

Successful tests in animals suggest that a vaccine to protect humans against skin cancer may be available within five to 10 years, says an Australian scientist who helped develop the widely used vaccine for cervical cancer, the Telegraph newspaper in Great Britain reported.

The skin cancer vaccine for children ages 10 to 12 would protect against squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, but would not protect against the more deadly melanoma, said Professor Ian Frazer of the University of Queensland.

Like the cervical cancer vaccine, the skin cancer vaccine targets papillomavirus, which can trigger the development of cancer cells. The common infection is believed to cause at least 5 percent of all cancers, the Telegraph reported.

Frazer presented his findings from the animal tests to the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress.

"We now want to test vaccines based on this knowledge in clinical trials, to find out whether we can develop vaccines that could be used to treat people at risk of skin cancer," Frazer said.

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