Health Highlights: Sept. 13, 2007

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

1,395 West Nile Virus Cases, 38 Deaths in U.S.

So far this year, there have been 38 deaths among the 1,395 reported human cases of West Nile virus in 38 states, a federal study found.

Of the 1,395 cases as of Sept. 11, the median age of patients was 49 and 770 (56 percent) of the cases occurred in males. There have been 136 reported cases of West Nile virus detected in blood donors, including 33 in California, 20 in Texas, 13 in Oklahoma, 11 in South Dakota, nine in Minnesota, and seven each in Missouri and North Dakota.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • 1,395 West Nile Virus Cases, 38 Deaths in U.S.
    • Reduce Meat Consumption and Help Fight Climate Change?
    • Older Siblings May Stunt Younger Children's Growth
    • U.S. Failed to Boost Salad Green Inspections After E. coli Scare
    • Trasylol Should Remain on Market: FDA Panel
    • Global Child Death Rate at All-Time Low in 2006

Of those 136 cases, two people subsequently had neuroinvasive illness and 31 later developed West Nile fever.

More than 1,200 dead birds with West Nile virus infection have been reported in 29 states and New York City, and infections have been reported in horses in 26 states, one dog in Oregon, 11 squirrels in California, and three unidentified animal species in Idaho and Montana.

The findings are published in the Sept. 14 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Reduce Meat Consumption and Help Fight Climate Change?

You can help fight climate change by eating less meat, says a paper in this week's issue of The Lancet medical journal.

The authors of the paper said agriculture accounts for 22 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions -- about the same as industry and more than that of cars and other forms of transportation. And livestock production accounts for nearly 80 percent of agricultural emissions, Agence France-Presse reported.

Currently, average meat consumption worldwide is 100 grams (3.5 ounces) per person per day. But the average in rich countries is 200 to 250 grams (7 to 8.8 ounces), compared to 20 to 25 grams (0.71 to 0.88 ounces) in poor countries.

The paper's authors said the global average should be reduced to 90 grams (3.17 ounces) per day per person by 2050. That means that people in rich countries need to reduce their meat intake to the equivalent of one hamburger per day, AFP reported.

Not only would that benefit the environment, it would also improve health by lowering the risk of heart disease, obesity, colorectal cancer, and perhaps other kinds of cancers, the authors said.

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Older Siblings May Stunt Younger Children's Growth

Having older siblings may stunt the growth of younger children, say researchers at University College London in England. This is especially true if older siblings are brothers.

The study found that children in larger families were likely to be shorter than average, BBC News reported.

The researchers analyzed data from 14,000 families and found that children with three siblings were 2.5 centimeters (one inch) shorter than the average height for their age.

Multiple siblings may spread thin the resources that parents can offer their children, the researchers suggested.

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