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Health Highlights: Sept. 25, 2014

U.S. Nurses Stage Ebola 'Die-in' 3 Retired NYC Firefighters Die on Same Day From 9/11 Ills U.S. Issues New Rules for Dangerous Biology Research New Chantix Label Suggests Low Risk of Suicidal Behavior

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

U.S. Nurses Stage Ebola 'Die-in'

Nurses staged an Ebola "die-in" in Las Vegas to highlight their belief that U.S. hospitals are not prepared to deal with an Ebola outbreak.

The event in Las Vegas involved about 1,000 nurses attending a union convention. Many wore bright red T-shirts and suits resembling hazardous materials protective gear, the Associated Press reported.

Some of the protesters laid on the sidewalk while others used chalk to outline their "dead" bodies and then wrote the hashtag #StopEbolaRNRN inside the outlines. That was followed by a moment of silence for health care workers who have died during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The deadly virus "can easily come to our shores, and we're not ready," said Julia Scott, a registered nurse from Largo Medical Center in Florida, the AP reported.

Ebola "is going to come here," and U.S. policymakers are in denial, RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, told the protesters.


3 Retired NYC Firefighters Die on Same Day From 9/11 Ills

Three retired New York City firefighters who worked at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attacks died on the same day from 9/11-related illnesses, officials say.

Monday's deaths of Lt. Howard Bischoff and firefighters Robert Leaver and Daniel Heglund are "a painful reminder that 13 years later we continue to pay a terrible price for the department's heroic efforts," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, the Associated Press reported.

One of the firefighters had leukemia, another had esophageal cancer and the third had colon cancer.

The Fire Department of New York City lost 343 firefighters on 9/11, and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association says 99 percent of exposed firefighters have reported at least one new respiratory illness, the AP reported.


U.S. Issues New Rules for Dangerous Biology Research

New rules meant to improve oversight of potentially dangerous U.S. government-funded biology research were announced Wednesday by the Obama administration.

The new guidelines cover research that could inadvertently produce bioweapons. The rules transfer the responsibility of identifying and disclosing the risky aspects of the research from the government agencies that fund the research, to the scientists who receive the grants and the facilities where they work, The New York Times reported.

The new policy will "preserve the benefits of life-science research while minimizing the risk of misuse," according to National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins.

Opponents of this type of research say the new rules are weak and also criticized the fact that they won't take effect for another year, The Times reported.


New Chantix Label Suggests Low Risk of Suicidal Behavior

There's little proof that the anti-smoking drug Chantix increases the risk of suicidal behavior, according to a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved label on the drug.

About five years ago, the FDA ordered that Chantix carry a black box warning -- the most serious type -- about the possibility of agitation, hostility, depression and suicidal behavior in patients taking the drug, the Associated Press reported.

The updated label includes data from recent studies that found little or no evidence of psychiatric problems or suicidal behavior in people taking Chantix. The update was requested by drug maker Pfizer.

Pfizer has also asked the FDA to remove the black box warning from Chantix. An FDA panel of experts will meet next month to review Chantix's risks, the AP reported.

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