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Author Topic: Food, drug safety dominated health news in '07 HEALTHY NEW YEAR 2008 USA Today  (Read 2400 times)
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« on: December 30, 2007, 01:37:22 PM »

Wishing you a HEALTHY NEW YEAR 2008, ITCHMO -- 3cats


Food, drug safety dominated health news in '07
USA TODAY • December 29, 2007

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 Persistent questions about the safety of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, a menacing microbe spreading throughout the United States and a globe-trotting TB patient all garnered headlines this past year. A look back at the top health stories of 2007:

Food safety

2007 was the year we learned that nothing is safe when it comes to food ? not even for our pets.

It was March 16 that pet food maker Menu Foods announced a recall that eventually encompassed 60 million cans and pouches of pet food sold under more than 100 different brands. The food was implicated in the deaths of cats and dogs nationwide, though official numbers were never tallied.

The recall also launched a major examination of the safety of foods coming from China when it was revealed that the pet food was contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.

China was again in the news in June when the FDA imposed import restrictions on five types of Chinese-raised seafood because many were found to be contaminated with chemicals not allowed in food in the U.S.

But Chinese products weren't the only ones with problems. In February came a recall linked to salmonella in peanut butter. The outbreak sickened at least 290 people in 39 states and was traced to contaminated Peter Pan and Wal-Mart's Great Value peanut butter.

In June, United Food Group recalled 5.7 million pounds of fresh and frozen beef possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a sometimes deadly strain of the bacteria. Fourteen people in six Western states fell ill after eating the beef. All recovered.

In July, the toxin Botulinum showed up in canned chili, hot dog chili sauces, stews and other products by Castleberry Food. The recall covered 27 brands and 91 products sold at an estimated 17,500 stores. At least four illnesses linked to the products were confirmed.

Then in October came the nation's second-largest recall of ground beef ever when 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburgers were recalled by Topps Meat of Elizabeth because of potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The bacteria were linked to 27 reported illnesses.


Yet another blockbuster drug lost some of its luster in 2007. But unlike Vioxx, the arthritis drug pulled off the market in 2004 because of safety concerns, Avandia is still around.

Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, got everyone's attention in May when he reported that diabetics who took Avandia were 43 percent more likely to have a heart attack or be hospitalized for blocked coronary arteries than other patients in clinical trials.

In July, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 20-3 that Avandia, used to treat type 2 diabetes, increases heart risks. But they voted 22-1 that its risk/benefit profile merits it staying on drugstore shelves. Maker GlaxoSmithKline says Avandia sales have fallen since Nissen's findings appeared in "The New England Journal of Medicine".


This winter, parents of children under age 2 may need to just let nature take its course when their kids get a cold.

In October, makers of over-the-counter cold and cough remedies said they would stop marketing them for that age group. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, warns that the products are neither safe nor effective for kids under 6.

A week after the industry's voluntary ban, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended going a step farther and banning the cold and cough medicines for kids under 6. The FDA usually follows its advisory committee recommendations but is not bound by them.

Infectious diseases

The drug-resistant superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which once almost exclusively affected elderly and sick people in hospitals, has become more common, causing serious illnesses, even deaths, in young and previously healthy children and adults. In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the infections were more common than previously thought, causing an estimated 94,000 cases in 2005. The majority were in people who had been in health care facilities, such as hospitals or nursing homes, in the previous year, but 15 percent were in people who had not. The CDC further reported that the bug kills 18,000 Americans each year.

MRSA infection can cause pustules or boils on the skin, and most cases can be treated effectively with antibiotics. In more serious cases, MRSA can cause pneumonia or blood infections. The bacteria are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or contact with an infected surface.

Several drug companies are developing new treatments for MRSA. The CDC says it can be prevented if people take simple steps, such as covering wounds, not sharing personal items such as razors or clothing and washing hands frequently.


A traveler infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis led health officials on a trans-Atlantic chase and caused an international health scare.

The incident began in May, when Atlanta lawyer Andrew Speaker flew to Europe on a commercial airliner for his wedding and honeymoon. He knew he had an active case of TB, but it was not until he was out of the country that tests suggested he had what is known as extensively drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB. Follow-up tests confirmed Speaker's TB was a more treatable form known as multi-drug-resistant or MDR-TB. Either one requires intensive treatment, and under World Health Organization guidelines, people with drug-resistant TB should not fly on commercial airlines.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked Speaker down in Rome and asked him to stay where he was, but he and his bride flew to Prague, then to Montreal, and drove by car back into the U.S., unchallenged by border guards.

Out of concern that Speaker could have infected fellow travelers with the disease, health officials advised anyone who flew with him on the trans-Atlantic flights to be tested.

The incident, which raised questions about the effectiveness of TB testing, U.S. border security and the practicality of international restrictions on travel by people with infectious diseases, had a happy ending. After eight weeks of treatment, Speaker was released from a Denver hospital on July 26.

And U.S. and Canadian health officials said that tests on hundreds of people who traveled on airplanes with Speaker show none of them became infected
« Last Edit: December 30, 2007, 01:39:35 PM by 3catkidneyfailure » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2007, 01:39:56 PM »

3cats, the yellow color isn't showing up well enough on my screen to be readable. Maybe others can read it?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2007, 02:04:49 PM »

Thanks, catwoods, changed it
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2007, 06:14:19 PM »

It's good and sharp now. Happy New Year and thank you for this important recap.
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