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Health Highlights: Sept. 27, 2019

Medicare Gene Test Scam Nixed By Feds Cases of Legionnaires' Disease Tied to NC State Fair Rise to 25 Performance Dog Raw Pet Food May Pose Salmonella Threat: FDA

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

Medicare Gene Test Scam Nixed By Feds

A joint task force of FBI, U.S. attorneys and the Health and Human Services inspector general has charged more than 30 people with a scam that cost Medicare about $2 billion for unnecessary DNA tests.

Those charged included telemarketing companies, doctors and labs, the Associated Press reported.

Scammers used seniors' fears of cancer and other disease to sell their genetic testing. Gene tests aren't used regularly to screen for cancer.

It worked like this: Telemarketers or live recruiters would talk a Medicare patient into getting a DNA test. They would also assure them that Medicare would pay for it.

Doctors who were part of the scam would then approve the test and get a kickback. A lab would run the test, bill Medicare and kickback part of the fee to the original recruiter, according to the AP.

Costs to Medicare ranged from $7,000 to $12,000 and more. Many patients never received a report of their test, or they got a report they couldn't understand.

Medicare paid hundreds of millions of dollars out before the scheme was uncovered and those responsible busted, the AP said.

No single group was behind the fraud, and Friday's operation clamped down on a number of regional networks, the AP reported.


Cases of Legionnaires' Disease Tied to NC State Fair Rise to 25

The number of cases of Legionnaires' disease tied to the North Carolina Mountain State fair has risen to 25, with one death, according to the state division of public health.

The cause of the outbreak is still being investigated, but many of those sickened went to the fair in Fletcher between Sept. 6 and 15, CNN reported.

Health authorities are looking at airborne droplets from water rides as a possible source of the outbreak, Kelly Haight Connor, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Health and Human Services, told CNN.

State health officials are asking anyone who went to the fair who is suffering from cough, fever or shortness of breath to call their doctor about Legionnaire's disease.

So far, 22 people ranging in age from 37 to 90, have been hospitalized, health officials say.

Legionnaires' causes a lung infection that people get when they breathe in the Legionella bacteria. The disease is serious but can be treated with antibiotics, but for about 1 in 10 it is fatal, according to CNN.

About 7,500 cases of Legionnaires' disease were seen in 2017, but because many cases aren't reported, the real number is likely higher and the rate of people who get the disease has gone up 550% since 2000, according to the CDC.


Performance Dog Raw Pet Food May Pose Salmonella Threat: FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to give dogs frozen Performance Dog Raw Pet Food because it has tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Tests of two lots from Bravo Packing, Inc., the maker of the pet food, found Salmonella and Listeria. One lot had not yet been distributed.

The one to watch for is Performance Dog raw pet food, lot code 072219, sold frozen in two-pound pouches.

The FDA, however, is warning about any Performance Dog frozen raw pet food made on or after July 22, 2019. These batches have no lot codes on the packaging.

If you have any Performance Dog purchased after July 22, 2019, throw it out, the FDA says.

Performance Dog raw pet food is a serious threat to human and animal health and because these products are frozen people may still have them in the freezer.

People with symptoms of Salmonella or Listeria poisoning should see their doctor. If your pet has symptoms see your veterinarian.

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