Health Highlights: Jan. 25, 2005

FDA Approves South African HIV Drug Regimen Almost a Million Trampolines Recalled Epidemic Threat Fading in Tsunami Areas: WHO Human Trials Begin For AIDS Vaccine Modern Disease Stemmed From Ancient Inbreeding: Study Chinese Egg Rolls May Contain Glass Particles

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

FDA Approves South African HIV Drug Regimen

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it has granted tentative approval of a generic HIV drug regimen made by a South African company.

This is the first time that an HIV drug regimen made by a non-U.S. generic drug company has received tentative approval from the FDA.

The co-packaged antiretroviral drug regimen for treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults is manufactured by Aspen Pharmacare. The FDA's tentative approval means that this product meets the agency's U.S. marketing standards for quality, safety and efficacy.

Existing patents and/or exclusivity prevent this product from being marketed in the United States, the FDA said. But the approval does make the generic drug regimen available for potential purchase under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

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Almost a Million Trampolines Recalled

Almost a million trampolines and about 296,000 FunRing enclosures are being recalled by Jumpking Inc. of Texas because they pose a potential risk of serious injury, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Welds on the trampolines can break during use and cause users to fall, and the mounting brackets of the FunRing enclosures have sharp edges that can cause lacerations, the CPSC said.

So far, the company has received 47 reports of at least one trampoline weld breaking. There have been 21 reports of related injuries, including: a concussion; head, neck and back injuries; a broken arm; lacerations; sprains and bruises.

On the FunRing enclosures, there have been nine reports of serious lacerations when children were cut by the sharp edges of the brackets.

The recall includes 14- and 15-foot Jumpking trampolines sold separately and with FunRing enclosures. The trampolines with enclosures were sold across the United States and Canada from July 1999 through December 2003. Trampolines without the enclosures were sold from July 1999 through February 2004.

Consumers with these products should stop using them and contact Jumpking to receive free repair kits. Contact the company at 1-866-302-8669 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

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Epidemic Threat Receding in Tsunami Areas: WHO

Potential epidemics in tsunami-affected areas in East Asia now appear highly unlikely because of the rapid global response to the disaster, the World Health Organization (WHO) says..

Following the December 26 tsunami, the WHO warned that 50,000 people or more could die from epidemics of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and respiratory illness, the Voice of America reported.

But swift international efforts to supply safe drinking water, upgrade sanitary facilities and provide medicine have greatly reduced that threat.

"The collective effort of the governments, the aid agencies and local communities has together created a situation where we will not get a second wave of deaths, because we have now got the systems in place to make it very, very unlikely that we will get any enormous outbreak of disease," said David Nabarro, head of the WHO's crisis unit.

The tsunami death toll currently stands at more than 250,000 people.

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Human Trials Begin For AIDS Vaccine

Merck & Co. says it has begun enrolling 1,500 candidates to participate in trials of a vaccine to prevent infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Phase II trials will be conducted by an international coalition for people at risk in North and South America, the Caribbean, and Australia. Though the inoculation is called "the most promising candidate that we've seen so far" by a spokeswoman for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), an approved vaccine would still be about a decade away, the Associated Press reported. HVTN is partially supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The Merck vaccine uses a genetically modified common-cold virus that is meant to kill human cells that become infected with HIV. Because it doesn't contain any form of the HIV virus itself, the vaccine cannot lead to HIV infection, nor can the modified germ cause a cold, the company says. The clinical trials will involve male and female volunteers ages 18 to 45.

About a dozen companies and organizations worldwide are working to develop an AIDS vaccine, the wire service reported. Two have reached Phase III testing -- the final stage before government approval is sought. One Phase III trial was considered unsuccessful in 2000, while the second candidate -- devised by the U.S. military -- is now enrolling volunteers, the AP said.

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Modern Disease Stemmed From Ancient Inbreeding: Study

Many of mankind's modern ills stem from the fact that our ancient ancestors didn't have enough potential mates, British researchers hypothesize.

Ancient inbreeding meant that natural selection couldn't remove harmful gene mutations fast enough, according to researchers at Bath University. The scientists, writing in the journal Public Library of Science Biology, said human DNA had been altered by about 140,000 natural mutations over the past 6 million years.

The most damaging of these genetic changes occurred when there were relatively small numbers of Hominids -- the two-legged primates that later evolved into humans, according to an account from BBC News Online.

By comparison, rats or mice had sufficient mates from which to choose, causing harmful DNA mutations to be quickly eliminated from the gene pool, the scientists said.

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Chinese Egg Rolls May Contain Glass Particles

Schwans Food Manufacturing Inc. is recalling 162,500 pounds of frozen egg rolls that may contain small pieces of glass, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says.

The following products, each of which has the establishment number EST. 5630 inside the USDA mark of inspection, are affected:

  • 11-ounce packages of "Pagoda, White Meat Chicken Egg Rolls & Textured Soy Flour." Each package bears the date code "384315."
  • 11-ounce packages of "Pagoda, Pork and Shrimp & Vegetable Protein Product." Each package bears the date codes "384314" or "384315."
  • 3.75-pound packages of "Minh Gourmet Chicken Egg Rolls, White Meat Chicken." Each package bears the date code "384313."

The egg rolls were packaged between Nov. 8 and 11, 2004, and were distributed to retail stores nationwide. The company has received no consumer complaints or reports of injury.

For more information, contact the company at 1-800-551-5961.

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