Health Highlights: April 13, 2008

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

21 Salmonella Cases Reported in 13 States After Cereal Recall

At least 21 people in 13 states have been infected with the latest outbreak of Salmonella poisoning, possibly from a number of processed cereal products that were recalled by the manufacturer April 5.

In issuing a consumer warning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the strain of salmonellosis in the victims was the same found in the recalled containers of unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat cereals produced by Malt-O-Meal, of Minneapolis, Minn.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • 21 Salmonella Cases Reported in 13 States After Cereal Recall
    • Former NYC Hospital Employee Charged in Theft of 50,000 Patient Records
    • Nine States Chosen for Health Care Quality Improvement
    • Recalled Dietary Supplements May Pose Serious Health Hazard
    • Michaels Recalls 310,000 Writing Pens
    • Scientists Say EPA's New Smog Standard Fails to Protect Public

According to the FDA, the recalled products were also distributed nationally under private label brands including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's, ShopRite, Tops and Weis Quality. The cereals have Best If Used By dates from April 8, 2008 (coded as "APR0808") through March 18, 2009 (coded as "MAR1809"), the FDA says.

Consumers are warned to throw out any of the cereal that is part of the recalled lots. You can get a complete list of the recalled products at this Malt-O-Meal site.

While there have been no reports of deaths in these latest cases, the Salmonella bacterium causes nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following states and number of reported cases: California reported 1; Colorado, 1; Delaware, 1; Maine, 3; Massachusetts, 2; Minnesota, 1; North Dakota, 1; New Hampshire, 2; New Jersey, 3; New York, 3; Pennsylvania, 1; Rhode Island, 1; and Vermont, 1.

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Former NYC Hospital Employee Charged in Theft of 50,000 Patient Records

The hospital records of as many as 50,000 patients have been stolen from a major New York City hospital, the New York Times reports.

A former employee of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center has been charged with the thefts, according to the Times. Dwight McPherson, 38, a patient admissions representative, was arrested Saturday and charged with stealing nearly 50,000 patient files and selling at least 1,000 of them, the newspaper reported.

McPherson was charged with selling about 1,000 patient files to a person described only as "a man from Brooklyn" for $750, the Times said. The theft of the files, which contained no medical records but had other personal information, possibly including a patient's Social Security number, had been going on since 2006, the Times reported.

McPherson, who had been suspended in February after the investigation began, told government officials that he had been offered money for information about male patients born between 1950 and 1970, the newspaper quotes the criminal complaint as stating.

While saying that there had been as yet no reports of a patient falling prey to a financial scam or fraud, hospital spokeswoman Myrna Manners told the Associated Press that the missing information was possibly part of a "larger criminal enterprise."

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