Health Highlights: Oct. 11, 2007

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

Arthritis Limits Ability to Work

About one-third of working-age American adults with arthritis say the chronic condition limits their ability to work, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Thursday.

The 2003 survey, the latest data available, found that 33 percent of U.S. workers ages 18 to 64 with arthritis experienced limitations in doing their jobs, the Associated Press reported. Rates ranged from a high of 51.3 percent in Kentucky to a low of 25.1 percent in Nevada.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Arthritis Limits Ability to Work
    • Cochlear Implants Might Heighten Meningitis Risk: FDA
    • Scientists Map Genome of Deadly Drug-Resistant TB
    • FDA Panel Supports Approval of New Drug-Coated Stent
    • California Bans Smoking in Vehicles Carrying Children
    • Curious George Doll Has High Lead Levels

The survey, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is the first to give a state-by-state overview of the problem, the AP reported.

"These findings show that large numbers of workers in every state are affected by arthritis," Janet Collins, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a prepared statement. "With the increasing number of older Americans in the nation's workforce, it is important that employers, health departments and others take steps that help people with arthritis stay employed or become employed.

Arthritis is the most frequent cause of disability in the United States.

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Cochlear Implants Might Heighten Meningitis Risk: FDA

In response to the deaths of two children within the past year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday warned doctors and consumers that the cochlear implant device used in profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing patients is associated with increased risk of bacterial meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Children with cochlear implants with a positioner component are at greatest risk.

The meningitis deaths involved two children, ages 9 and 11, who had cochlear implants with positioners. Neither child was fully vaccinated, and one died because of the lack of vaccination, the FDA said.

The agency reminded healthcare providers and consumers that people who receive cochlear implants must by fully immunized according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Because children with cochlear implants are at increased risk for pneumococcal meningitis, they should receive pneumococcal vaccination under the same schedules that apply to others at high risk for invasive pneumococcal disease, the CDC recommends.

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Scientists Map Genome of Deadly Drug-Resistant TB

In what may prove an major breakthrough, South African scientists have sequenced the genome of a highly deadly strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis, Agence France-Presse reported.

Using special technology, scientists at a government-sponsored research center decoded and sequenced the genome of Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) TB, which was first discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, one of the areas worst hit by HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

This achievement may lead to better diagnosis of XDR TB and improved understanding of the mechanisms that make it so resistant to current drugs, knowledge that could help in the development of new treatments, AFP reported.

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