Health Highlights: May 26, 2007

Two people in Chicago became ill after they ate soup made with the fish and one of them had to be hospitalized. Initial symptoms of tetrodotoxin poisoning include tingling of lips, tongue, face and extremities. Subsequent symptoms may include headache, balance problems, excessive salvation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Anyone with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care, the FDA said.

Severe cases of tetrodotoxin poisoning can cause muscle paralysis and death due to respiratory muscle paralysis.

The boxes containing the fish are white, with one label that reads "FROZEN MONKFISH GUTTED AND HEAD-OFF" and "PRODUCT OF CHINA." A second label includes nutritional facts and the following information: "Ingredients: Monk fish; Imported by Hong Chang Corp, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670; Product of China (P.R.C.)" A third label has a checkbox indicating the size as either "0.5-1" or "1-2" and show the net weight as 22 pounds.

There are no manufacturing codes on the boxes. The fish are individually wrapped in plastic bags with no labeling.


Kentucky Cardiologist Nominated as Next U.S. Surgeon General

Kentucky cardiologist Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. has been nominated by U.S. President George W. Bush to be the country's next surgeon general.

Holsinger, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Kentucky, has held numerous academic and administrative positions. He served as Kentucky's secretary for health and family services, chancellor of the University of Kentucky Medical Center, and has taught at several U.S. medical schools. He also served more than three decades in the United Stares Army Reserve before retiring in 1993 as a major general, the Associated Press reported.

Bush said that, as the 18th surgeon general, Holsinger would focus his efforts on fighting childhood obesity. The Senate should quickly confirm Holsinger, urged Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

The term of the previous surgeon general, Dr. Richard Carmona, was allowed to expire last summer, the AP reported. He was best known for a major report condemning secondhand smoke.


TV Viewing Tied to Higher Blood Sugar in Diabetic Kids

The more time they spend in front of the television, the more difficult it is for diabetic children to control their blood sugar levels, concludes a Norwegian study in the June issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

The three-month study of 538 children with type 1 diabetes found that blood sugar levels increased with every hour of TV viewing. The highest blood sugar levels were in children who watched at least four hours of TV a day, the Associated Press reported.

The study authors said the findings "suggest that encouraging children with type 1 diabetes to watch less television may be important for improved blood glucose control and better health outcomes."

Snacking and overeating can increase blood sugar levels, while physical activity can help lower them. This study focused only on TV viewing. It didn't examine the children's diet or physical activity.

One expert said the study results may suggest that children with type 1 diabetes who already have consistently high blood sugar levels may feel too unwell to do anything but watch TV, the AP reported.

"It's very clear that there's a relationship. Now the question is what underlies that relationship," said Jill Weissburg-Benchell, a psychologist and diabetes educator at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.


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