Health Highlights: Oct. 12, 2008

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

New Ultrasound Mandate Law Challenged in Oklahoma Abortion Case

An Oklahoma law forbidding a woman from having an abortion until she has an ultrasound and has a physician give her a description of the fetus is being challenged in court.

According to the Associated Press, the law, which goes into effect Nov. 1, is being contested on grounds that it violates a woman's privacy, endangers health and assaults dignity. Oklahoma joins Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana as the states having a mandatory ultrasound and consultation law, the wire service reports.

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    • 100 South Africans Under Observation After Unidentified Fever Kills Three
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The lawsuit was filed late last week in Oklahoma County District Court by the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights advocacy group, the A.P. reports. What makes the Oklahoma law different from the other three states, the wire service reports, is that the ultrasound picture of the fetus is to be turned toward the woman as the doctor describes the dimensions of the fetus to her.

The Oklahoma state legislature overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto, and the bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Todd Lamb, told the n A.P.: "I introduced the bill because I wanted to encourage life in society. In Oklahoma, society is on the side of life."

The plaintiff's lead lawyer Stephanie Toti told the wire service, "Anti-choice activists will stop at nothing to prevent a woman from getting an abortion, but trying to manipulate a woman's decisions about her own life and health goes beyond the pale."


100 South Africans Under Observation After Unidentified Fever Kills Three

An infection that may be related to the dangerous Ebola virus has killed three people in South Africa, and about 100 others who may have come into contact with the victims are under observation, BBC News reports.

A type of hemorrhagic fever is the suspected cause, BBC News says, of the deaths of a female Zambian tour guide and two medical people who treated her. The woman had been in South Africa for two days when she became ill.

The Associated Press quotes an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that tests had ruled out the most common forms of hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, and Marburg fever.

Because hemorrhagic fever strikes so quickly and is so contagious, South African health officials set up the monitoring of 100 people in Johannesburg to make sure no one else is ill. "The public at large are not at risk," intensive care specialist professor Guy Richards is quoted as saying.

Those under observation will have their temperatures taken four times daily for the next three weeks, BBC News reports. Symptoms include high fever, nausea and external bleeding.


Pregnancy Doesn't Cause Memory Problems

There's no evidence to suggest that pregnancy affects a woman's cognitive abilities, says an Australian study that challenges the widespread belief that pregnant women suffer memory problems.

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