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Health Highlights: Jan. 6, 2005

U.N. Says Tsunami Disease Threat Receding Experimental HIV Drug Receives Fast-Track Status Mandela's Son Dies of AIDS Recalled Cribs Could Pose Safety Threat U.S. Fitness: Strong in Seattle, Hindered in Houston

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

U.N. Says Tsunami Disease Threat Receding

Massive amounts of medical aid flooding into portions of Asia that were devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunami are reducing the region's risk of waterborne disease outbreaks, a United Nations relief official told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Earlier logistical bottlenecks are beginning to clear, and steps to prevent outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and dysentery are beginning to work, said Jamie McGoldrick, an official with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

At the same time, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told officials gathered in Indonesia that unsanitary and crowded conditions in relief camps could still boost the death toll from last month's disaster -- currently 150,000.

The Jakarta meeting was held to plan how to distribute the $4 billion in global relief aid that's been pledged. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said major relief efforts by the United States, India, Japan, and Australia would be folded into relief operations led by the United Nations, the AP reported.

The leaders also agreed in principle to establish a warning system for Indian Ocean nations that would detect earthquake-borne tidal waves before they strike. This type of system is already in use in the Pacific Ocean.

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Experimental HIV Drug Receives Fast-Track Status

An experimental HIV drug called PA-457 has received fast-track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Thursday.

The once-daily oral drug is being developed by Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Fast-track status is meant to speed development and approval of drugs that have the potential to offer improved treatment for serious or life- threatening diseases.

Previous research showed that PA-457 was well tolerated by people not infected by HIV. Panacos is studying the effect the drug has on HIV- positive patients who aren't receiving any other antiretroviral therapy, the Associated Press reported.

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Mandela's Son Dies of AIDS

Nelson Mandela's oldest son died Thursday of AIDS at age 54, the former South African president told reporters.

The New York Times said the disclosure was unusual in a country whose population has been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic but reluctant to acknowledge it. The United Nations estimates that some 5 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS-causing HIV virus, including more than one in five adults, the newspaper said.

"For some time I have been saying, let us give publicity to AIDS and not hide it," the Times quoted Mandela as saying in announcing the death of his son, Makgatho.

Mandela repeated previous assertions that present and past South African government leaders -- including himself -- hadn't done enough to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

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Recalled Cribs Could Pose Safety Threat

Some 7,700 cribs that pose a potential safety threat to babies are being recalled, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday.

The products are made by Orbelle Trade Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y. The cribs have a gap between the side rail and the crib mattress support, and babies can become trapped in this gap.

Other cribs lack proper assembly instructions, and are also missing required warning labels. If these cribs are not properly assembled, they could pose an entrapment hazard to infants.

Recalled models include the Daniella, Leeat, Noa, Naomi, Gabriella, Amber and Series 300 cribs. They were sold in New York and New Jersey from January 2003 through August 2004 for between $135 and $335.

Consumers who own these cribs should stop using them immediately and contact Orbelle Trade Inc. at 1-800-605-8018.

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U.S. Fitness: Strong in Seattle, Hindered in Houston

Seattle has been chosen the fittest city in the United States by Men's Fitness magazine, while Houston lags as the nation's most unfit.

Seattle rose to the top from its sixth position in last year's rankings, while Houston supplanted Detroit as the city with residents in worst shape.

The magazine compared 14 factors among 50 major cities, including fast food restaurants per capita, air quality, and the number of parks. It also factored in so-called "temptations" like the number of Dunkin' Donut establishments a resident was likely to pass on the way to work.

Here are the magazine's choices for 2005:

Fittest CitiesLeast Fit Cities
  1. Seattle
  2. Honolulu
  3. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  4. San Francisco
  5. Denver
  1. Houston
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Detroit
  4. Memphis, Tenn.
  5. Chicago
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