Health Highlights: Nov. 21, 2011

Woman Mauled by Chimp Gets Compliments on New Face Dog Illnesses May be Linked to Chicken Jerky Treats: FDA HIV/AIDS Epidemic May be Leveling Off: UNAIDS Antipsychotic Drugs Given to Foster Children: Study

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

Woman Mauled by Chimp Gets Compliments on New Face

An American woman who received a face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee says people are complementing her on her new face.

Charla Nash said on NBC's "Today" show that her new face has started to mold to her underlying bone structure and she's resuming more of her normal life, the Associated Press reported.

People have told her she's beautiful, something that didn't occur before, Nash said.

In the 2009 attack, the chimp tore off Nash's nose, lips, eyelids and hands and she was blinded. She had a face and double hand transplant in May, but complications forced the removal of the hands, the AP reported.


Dog Illnesses May be Linked to Chicken Jerky Treats: FDA

Chicken jerky treats imported from China may be to blame for dog illnesses and deaths in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warns.

So far this year, at least 70 dogs have become ill after reportedly eating the jerky products and some of the dogs have died, reported.

FDA officials have not been able to pinpoint a specific contaminant and did not identify a particular brand of the chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken treats, chicken strips and chicken tenders.

Reports from dog owners and vets indicate that dogs may suffer a variety of illnesses within days or hours of eating the treats, including kidney failure, said.

Decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and increased urination are among the symptoms. If they are severe or persist for more than 24 hours, take the dog to a veterinarian, the FDA said.


HIV/AIDS Epidemic May be Leveling Off: UNAIDS

The 2.7 million new HIV infections reported worldwide last year is about the same number as in the previous three years, which suggests that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is leveling off, according to a UNAIDS report released Monday.

The number of people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was about 34 million at the end of last year. That's slightly more than in previous years but UNAIDS said it is because people with HIV/AIDS are surviving longer, the Associated Press reported.

There were 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths in 2010, down from 1.9 million in 2009.

"It's looking promising, but the numbers are still at a scary level," Sophie Harman, a global health expert at City University in London, told the AP.

Harman, who was not connected to the UNAIDS report, also expressed doubt about UNAIDS' strategy for the next few years to work toward eliminating new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths.

"Maybe they need to aim high but if their main goal is eradication, it's highly unlikely that will ever happen," she told the AP.


Antipsychotic Drugs Given to Foster Children: Study

Foster children in the United States are more likely than mentally-ill children to receive a cocktail of powerful antipsychotic drugs, according to a new study.

Researchers examined the 2003 Medicaid records of 637,924 children in a mid-Atlantic state who were either in foster care, receiving disability benefits for a diagnosis such as severe autism or bipolar disorder, or in a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, The New York Times reported.

About 3 percent of all the children (16,969) had received at least one prescription for an antipsychotic drug. At least 2 percent of foster children took at least one such drug, despite the fact that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for which the drugs are approved, are extremely rare in young children.

The researchers also found that 9.2 percent of foster children received prescriptions for more than one antipsychotic drug at the same time, compared with 6.8 children on disability and 2.5 percent of those in the needy families program, The Times reported.

The study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"The kids in foster care may come from bad homes, but they do not have the sort of complex medical issues that those in the disabled population do," said lead author Susan dosReis, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, The Times reported.

The findings suggest that doctors are treating foster children's behavioral problems with the same powerful antipsychotic drugs given to patients with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder.

"We simply don't have evidence to support this kind of use, especially in young children," dosReis said.

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