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Health Highlights: May 29, 2004

FDA Announces Almond Recall Fla. Doctor Charged With Selling Diluted Cancer, AIDS Drugs Drowned Toddler Found to Be Alive Poll Finds Overweight Americans in Denial Second U.S. Human West Nile Case Reported in Arizona Every 6.5 Seconds, a Smoker Dies: UN Official Surgeon General Links More Diseases to Smoking

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

FDA Announces Almond Recall

The Germack Pistachio Co. of Detroit is voluntarily recalling its Germack Almond brand raw whole almonds, due to possible salmonella contamination, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company distributes the almonds in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Connecticut, and Florida.

The recall comes in response to a voluntary recall by Paramount Farms of California of Whole Brown Natural Raw Almonds, following reports of 20 possible cases of salmonella in Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, as well as one case in Michigan. No salmonella has been found in any Germack or Paramount products, the FDA said.

Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with the germ often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare cases, salmonella infection can result in more severe illnesses such as arterial infections -- including aneurysms -- and arthritis, according to the FDA.

The Germack almonds are packaged in 1-pound packages that bear the Germack Pistachio Co. label, with code dates of 040806, 040807, 040819, 040824, 050105, 050421 and 050422.

The nuts should not be eaten; consumers can return them to the store of purchase for a full refund. For more information, call Germack Pistachio Co. at 800-872-4006, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.


Fla. Doctor Charged With Selling Diluted Cancer, AIDS Drugs

A Florida doctor has been charged with selling diluted cancer and AIDS drugs in a scheme that netted nearly $60 million, state prosecutors said.

Dr. Paul Perito, a 42-year-old urologist from Coral Gables, and his business partner, Nicholas Just, 47, were charged Thursday with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, organized scheme to defraud, product tampering, vending of counterfeit drugs, and the purchase of prescription drugs from an unlicensed person, according to the Lakeland Ledger.

If convicted on all counts, Perito could face 250 years in prison and Just, 150 years, state Attorney General Charlie Crist said.

Perito was being held Friday at Miami-Dade County jail on $2,274,500 bond and Just was held on $2,271,000 bail, a jail spokeswoman told the newspaper.


Drowned Toddler Found to Be Alive

A 2-year-old drowning victim from Rexburg, Idaho, was found to be alive more than an hour after he'd been pronounced dead.

A hospital nurse preparing Logan Pinto's body for the funeral home when she noticed slight movement in his chest and realized he was breathing. The boy was airlifted to a Salt Lake City hospital and was listed in critical condition Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The boy was submerged for almost 30 minutes Thursday after tumbling into a canal near his home in Rexburg, which is about 275 miles east of Boise. Police and emergency crews tried to revive him after he was pulled from the water, but those efforts were deemed unsuccessful and Logan was pronounced dead.


Poll Finds Overweight Americans in Denial

Weight problem? What weight problem?

That seems to be the attitude of many Americans, according to an Ipsos poll conducted for the Associated Press. The poll found that six in 10 Americans who are overweight according to government standards actually consider themselves to be at a healthy weight.

And only 25 percent of obese people feel that they're overweight.

The poll of 1,000 adults also found that 12 percent of the respondents are currently on a diet. Most of those who've been on diets said they regained at least some of the weight they shed and 23 percent said they gained back all their weight after being on a diet.

About two-thirds of the poll respondents attempted to start regular physical exercise programs within the previous year.

Most of the people singled out unhealthy eating habits as the health risk that posed the greatest threat to Americans. Fifty-six percent said they try to restrict fat intake in their diets and 33 percent said they try to restrict carbohydrates.


Second U.S. Human West Nile Case Reported in Arizona

The second human case of West Nile virus in the United States this year has been reported in Maricopa County, Ariz.

An adult in the county developed symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus on May 8 and was admitted to hospital. The person is now fully recovered, the Associated Press reported.

On Wednesday, New Mexico reported the first human West Nile case in the U.S. this year. The San Juan County man suffered only mild symptoms had has recovered.

The West Nile virus first appeared in the United States in New York in 1999. Since then, it's spread to many parts of the country and has killed more than 560 people in the U.S.

People infected with the virus usually develop flu-like symptoms, including nausea, muscle aches, headache and fever. Most people recover but the virus can be a deadly threat for some people, including the elderly.


Every 6.5 Seconds, Another Smoker Dies: UN Official

You don't have to wait long until someone across the globe dies of a tobacco-related illness, according to Lee Jong-wook, director of the World Health Organization.

A current or former smoker dies about every 6.5 seconds, which amounts to 4.9 million people annually, according to the Associated Press. That figure, with much of the social and economic burden falling on developing nations, is expected to double over the next 20 years, experts say.

"The world cannot accept such easily preventable human and economic losses," Lee told the wire service in advance of World No Tobacco Day, which takes place Monday. He urged more countries to sign the United Nations agency's groundbreaking anti-tobacco treaty, which aims to reduce tobacco's damage to the global health system and economy.

Of WHO's 192 members, 118 have signed the 2003 pact, including the United States, the wire service said.


Surgeon General Links More Diseases to Smoking

A long list of diseases -- including acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the kidney, cervix, stomach and pancreas -- have been added to the catalog of serious health problems caused by smoking.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm, pneumonia, periodontitis and cataracts are also among the diseases now linked to smoking, said a report released Thursday by U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

Current evidence doesn't offer conclusive proof that liver cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer or erectile dysfunction are caused by smoking, the report said, adding that smoking may not cause breast cancer in women overall. But smoking may increase the risk of developing breast cancer, depending on a woman's genetics.

Carmona also reported that the number of Americans who smoke has dropped from about 42 percent in 1965 to about 22 percent in 2002, the last year for which such data is available, according to the AP.

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