Health Highlights: March 29, 2007

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

Green Tea May Help Fight HIV

Green tea may help reduce the risk of HIV infection and slow the spread of the virus in people who are already infected, concludes a study by U.S. and U.K. scientists.

They found that a component of green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) prevents HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- from binding to immune system cells. EGCG does this by binding to immune system cells first, leaving no room for HIV to attach to the cells, BBC News reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Green Tea May Help Fight HIV
    • Kuwait Bird Flu Outbreak Prompts Cull of 1.1 Million Chickens
    • Bird Flu Likely Cause of 2 Deaths in Indonesia
    • FDA Launches Web Site Warning of Online Accutane Sales
    • Bacteria Contamination Spurs Wrinkle Cream Recall
    • Food Dominates TV Ads for Children

The study, which looked at the ability of EGCG to block HIV from binding to immune cells in test tubes, appears in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"Our research shows that drinking green tea could reduce the risk of becoming infected by HIV, and could also slow down the spread of HIV," said Professor Mike Williamson of the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

"It is not a cure, and nor is it a safe way to avoid infection, however, we suggest that it should be used in combination with conventional medicines to improve quality of life for those infected," he said.

Williamson said research is underway to determine the levels of protection offered by different amounts of green tea, BBC News reported. Experts not involved in the study noted that this is very preliminary research.

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Kuwait Bird Flu Outbreak Prompts Cull of 1.1 Million Chickens

About 1.1 million chickens will be slaughtered within the next few days in an effort to halt an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus in Kuwait, an agricultural official said Thursday.

The chickens will be destroyed at farms owned by three large companies and located in Wafra, south of Kuwait City on the Saudi border. That's where most of the 57 cases of the H5N1 virus have been detected since the start of the outbreak in late February, Agence France Presse reported.

Since the outbreak began, about 200,000 fowl that were in contact with infected birds have been killed. Kuwait has banned the import and export of birds, shut down bird markets, and closed the nation's only zoo.

In early March, a team of experts from the World Organization for Animal Health traveled to Kuwait to assess the outbreak and help officials deal with it, AFP reported.

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Bird Flu Likely Cause of 2 Deaths in Indonesia

It's likely that bird flu has claimed the lives of two more people in Indonesia, the country's health ministry said Thursday. The two victims died after each tested positive for bird flu in an initial test. Follow-up tests are being conducted to verify the results.

If it's confirmed that the two people -- one on the island of Sumatra and one in the capital city of Jakarta -- died of bird flu, that would bring Indonesia's death toll to 71, the highest in the world, Agence France Presse reported.

Prior to these latest cases, Indonesia had announced three confirmed bird flu deaths since last Saturday, which brought the death toll to 69 out of 89 cases of bird flu in humans. Indonesia had hoped to stamp out human infections this year.

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