Health Highlights: Aug. 10, 2007

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

Don't Eat Certain Raw Oysters From Washington State, FDA Says

Consumers should not eat raw oysters harvested from the southern tip of Hood Canal in Washington state, because they may be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Friday.

Raw oysters harvested from "growing area 6" in Hood Canal since July 3 have caused at least six people to become sick in California and in Washington state, the agency said. Records indicate the oysters were shipped to California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, New York, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Don't Eat Certain Raw Oysters From Washington State, FDA Says
    • More American Seniors Have Drug Coverage
    • Iowa Dairy Sold Cows With High Levels of Antibiotics: FDA
    • California Farming Town Has Most Polluted Air in U.S.
    • FDA Warns of Red Yeast Rice Products Sold to Control Cholesterol
    • Study Suggests Fewer U.S. Workers Using Cocaine

Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria can cause an illness called vibriosis, with symptoms including watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Symptoms usually begin within 24 hours of eating the tainted food and normally last no more than three days.

The most severe symptoms are rare and most frequently affect people with weakened immune systems, including young children, the elderly, and people with AIDS or other conditions that compromise the immune system, the FDA said.

Washington state has closed the area associated with the contaminated oysters and has asked harvesters and distributors to recall any raw oysters obtained from the area.

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More American Seniors Have Drug Coverage

Many more American seniors now have prescription drug coverage, according to a University of Michigan (U-M) study that also found that poor seniors are as likely to have coverage as rich seniors.

The study found that more than 90 percent of people age 65 and older had drug prescription coverage in 2006, compared with 75 percent in 2004, The Ann Arbor News reported.

The findings are based on data from interviews with a nationally representative sample of 10,175 older adults.

Some critics have said the U.S. Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is confusing. But the authors of this study said the plan, introduced in 2006, has increased drug coverage for seniors, especially for those who most needed help, The Ann Arbor News reported.

The study was presented Thursday in Washington, D.C. at a conference sponsored by the Social Security Administration and the Retirement Research Consortium.

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Iowa Dairy Sold Cows With High Levels of Antibiotics: FDA

An Iowa dairy faces legal action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for allegedly selling cows for meat processing even though they had excessive levels of antibiotics, the Associated Press reported.

Following an investigation, the FDA filed a complaint in federal court against Rock Valley-based Ysselstein Dairy and its owner Sjerp Ysselstein.

Animals with high levels of drugs are not allowed to be sold for human consumption, the AP reported. In order to ensure that meat is safe for humans, the FDA requires that no drugs are given to animals for a specified period of time before they're slaughtered.

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