Health Highlights: June 9, 2009

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

Infection-Control Programs Suffering, Hospitals Report

Infections acquired at hospitals lead to almost 10,000 deaths each year, costing the United States health care system more than $20 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Despite justification for beefing up U.S. hospitals' infection-control efforts, a new survey found that almost 41 percent of nearly 2,000 participants said their hospital infection-control budgets were being cut, the newspaper reported. Funding cuts were affecting technology, staff, education, products and equipment, the survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) revealed.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Infection-Control Programs Suffering, Hospitals Report
    • HIV Cases Said Leveling Off in South Africa
    • FDA: Don't Use Clarcon Skin Products
    • New Orleans Mayor Quarantined in China

Moreover, 40 percent of respondents said they were affected by layoffs or a reduction in hours, and one-third said their departments had job freezes, the Journal reported.

The survey also found that only about 20 percent of respondents said their institutions had electronic reporting systems -- referred to as "data mining" -- that helped identify infection clusters in real time, the newspaper said.

One infection-control director from Tacoma, Wash., reported that a data-mining effort identified a pattern of urinary tract infections that ended up preventing an estimated 187 additional infections over 16 months and saving her institution about $1.5 million, the Journal said.

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HIV Cases Said Leveling Off in South Africa

HIV cases in South Africa have leveled off to about 10.9 percent of residents aged two and older, the BBC reports of a new study.

The rate may actually be falling among children and teenagers partly because of increased condom use, the network reported of survey findings by the Human Sciences Research Council.

But the report termed the overall situation "dire," since South Africa has the world's largest HIV-positive population, at 5.5 million.

Women between 20 and 34 years old continued to be the worst affected, with 33 percent carrying HIV, according to the report.

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FDA: Don't Use Clarcon Skin Products

Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah, is voluntarily recalling skin sanitizers and skin protectants sold under several brand names because the products may be contaminated with bacteria that could make users sick, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The agency issued a news release warning consumers to refrain from using all products made by the company. It said an analysis of several samples revealed disease-causing bacteria, some of which are associated with unsanitary conditions. The germs could cause dangerous infections of the skin and underlying tissue, the FDA added.

The products -- promoted in some cases as antimicrobial agents that can prevent infection in open wounds -- should not be used and be disposed of in the household trash, the agency said. A partial list of affected products includes:

  • Citrushield Lotion
  • Dermasentials DermaBarrier
  • Dermassentials by Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer
  • Iron Fist Barrier Hand Treatment
  • Skin Shield Restaurant
  • Skin Shield Industrial
  • Skin Shield Beauty Salon Lotion
  • Total Skin Care Beauty
  • Total Skin Care Work

To report adverse events associated with these or other consumer products, contact the FDA'S MedWatch reporting program at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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New Orleans Mayor Quarantined in China

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and his wife were being held in quarantine by the Chinese government Sunday after traveling on a plane to Shanghai with a passenger who had swine flu symptoms, the (NY) Daily News reported.

The mayor, his wife, Seletha, and a bodyguard were among those quarantined. Shanghai has 10 confirmed cases of swine flu, and authorities are taking extreme precautions, the Daily News said.

The three were feeling fine, said mayoral spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett. She also said they were being treated with the "utmost courtesy by Chinese officials," the Daily News said.

Nagin, who became a national figure in 2005 when New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, was on an economic-development trip to China and Australia.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reported that swine flu has now spread to 73 countries, with 139 deaths from the disease since it was first detected in April.

The latest WHO figures, released Monday, show more than 25,000 people have been infected with the swine influenza A-H1N1 worldwide, according to Voice of America.

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