Health Highlights: March 15, 2008

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

Meningitis Kills 1 of 3 College Students in Upstate New York

An 18-year-old student at an upstate New York college has died from what health officials suspect is a case of bacterial meningitis, the New York Times reports.

The death March 14 of Craig Schiesser, a freshman at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Oswego on Lake Ontario, was one of three bacterial meningitis cases reported on two upstate New York college campuses in the past week-and-a-half, the newspaper reports.

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Two Cornell University students, a 21-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, have been hospitalized, the Times reports, causing health to warn students that they may need to take medicine to prevent their contracting the disease.

This is particularly true of anyone who may have been in contact with Schiesser during the past 10 days, the newspaper said. Health and college officials were also investigating whether the three cases were connected through campus parties, because the two colleges are relatively near each other.

Earlier this year, two fatal cases of bacterial meningitis struck a high school guidance counselor and a 17-year-old high school senior over a 24-hour period and within a few miles of each other in the New York City suburban area of Long Island.

Bacterial meningitis inflames the outer membranes of the brain and spinal cord and kills a few hundred people nationwide each year, the Times reports. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms include a sore neck, headaches, flu-like symptoms and a high fever.


Breast Cancer Awareness Program Unites U.S., Mexico

The effort to expand breast cancer awareness went beyond United States borders this weekend as U.S. First lady Laura Bush joined Mexico's First Lady Margarita Zavala in announcing an alliance between the two countries for awareness and research into cures for the deadly disease.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research was officially launched March 14, with Bush and Zavala speaking about ways to educate people not only about preventative measures but also in getting rid of stigmas associated with breast cancer.

"In Mexico, one out of every 258 women will discover they have breast cancer in the next 10 years," the wire service quotes Bush saying at the ceremony in the Mexico City. "The majority of these cases will be detected in their later stages, greatly reducing their chances of survival."

Eventually, the partnership will extend to Brazil and Costa Rica, the A.P. reported. And the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation create training programs in Mexico.


Unique Risk Factors May Help Spread Heart Disease in Developing Nations

Certain health issues may be helping the rapid spread of heart disease in developing nations, suggests a study that looked at 1,593 black and white cardiovascular disease patients in South Africa.

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