Health Highlights: March 22, 2008

"Serious and sometimes fatal skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis have been known to occur very rarely with carbamazepine," the health advisory says. "While all patients treated with carbamazepine are at risk of these skin reactions, the risk is approximately 10 times higher in Asian countries than in Western countries."

Health Canada said a genetic test can identify people of Asian ancestry who may be at increased risk of developing serious skin reactions when taking the drug, CBC News reported. Anyone considering taking carbamazepine should talk to their doctor about this genetic test, the health agency advised.

Any patients who aren't experiencing any skin reactions should not stop treatment before they discuss the matter with their doctor. Any patients taking the drug should immediately consult a doctor if they have any symptoms of serious skin reactions, such as rash, red skin, blistering of the lips, eyes or mouth, or peeling skin accompanied by fever, Health Canada warned. Patients who've experienced skin reactions while taking the drug should not take it again.

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Tap Water Suspected in Colorado Salmonella Outbreak

Tap water is being investigated as the possible cause of 47 confirmed and 76 suspected cases of salmonella among residents of the southern Colorado community of Alamosa, about 160 miles south of Denver.

Health officials said Alamosa's tap water tested positive for bacteria believed to be salmonella, but they're still waiting for final test results to confirm that, the Associated Press reported. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the contamination.

Residents of the community of about 8,500 people have been told to boil tap water for 15 seconds to kill the bacteria, or to use bottled water instead of tap water for brushing teeth, cooking, drinking, washing dishes and making baby formula.

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