Health Highlights: July 30, 2008

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

Salmonella Found at 2nd Mexican Farm

The strain of salmonella that has been linked to more than 1,300 illnesses in the United States has been found on a second farm in Mexico, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

"We have a smoking gun, it appears," Lonnie King, the chief of the Centers for Disease Control's center for foodborne illnesses, told the AP.

But health officials cautioned that the investigation wasn't over and that contamination of several different types of produce was still possible.

    • Salmonella Found at 2nd Mexican Farm
    • Alzheimer's Drug Shows No Benefit in Most Patients
    • Who's Happiest? Younger Women and Older Men
    • Routine EKGs Not Needed For Kids on ADHD Drugs: AAP
    • New Fast Food Restaurants Banned in South Los Angeles

The latest farm to have contamination, in this case tainted irrigation water and a contaminated serrano pepper, was identified in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, the AP reported. Previously, contamination of a sample of jalapeno peppers was identified at another Mexican farm in a different part of the country.

Fresh tomatoes had been the suspected source of the nationwide outbreak that began in April. But two weeks ago, U.S. health officials cleared the current crop for consumers. And at the start of last week, they found the first tainted pepper. And by the end of last week, they had narrowed the source to crops in Mexico, not the United States.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, Canadian health officials were struggling with their own salmonella outbreak, which apparently has sickened hundreds, according to the Globe and Mail.

The bacteria strain of is Salmonella enteritidis, health officials said, which is linked to poultry and egg products.


Alzheimer's Drug Shows No Benefit in Most Patients

The experimental Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab showed no benefit for most patients and was linked to a brain-swelling condition called vasogenic edema, says a study presented Tuesday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

The drug, made by Elan Corp and Wyeth, did slow memory loss in some patients better than existing treatments, but it had no effect in people with the ApoE4 gene, which is found in about half of all Alzheimer's patients, Bloomberg news reported.

Bapineuzumab is designed to remove clumps of protein that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

Twelve cases of vasogenic edema occurred in the trial of 234 patients, and 10 of those cases occurred in patients with the ApoE4 gene, Bloomberg reported. Both cases of vasogenic edema in patients without the gene were in the highest-dose group, as were eight of those with the gene.


Who's Happiest? Younger Women and Older Men

Young adult women tend to be happier than their male counterparts, but the roles reverse as people age, according to a new study cited by United Press International.

Later in life, it's generally men who are happier and more satisfied with their lives, U.S. and British researchers reported in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Happiness depends on factors such as family stability and financial security, according to study authors Richard Easterlin at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Anke Plagnol at the University of Cambridge in England.

Early in life, it's women who are more likely to satisfy their aspirations for material goods and family life. But men seem to better achieve these desires as both sexes become older, the study authors said.


Routine EKGs Not Needed For Kids Taking ADHD Drugs: AAP

Children prescribed attention-deficit drugs don't need routine electrocardiogram heart screening, according to a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that appears to contradict American Heart Association (AHA) advice.

The drugs, which can increase blood pressure and heart rate, carry a warning about risks for sudden death in patients with heart problems. However, the pediatricians' group said the AHA was overzealous earlier this year when it recommended EKGs for children prescribed ADHD drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta, the Associated Press reported.

Children starting treatment with the drugs should be given a thorough physical exam and be checked for family history of heart problems, but routine EKGs aren't needed in most cases, the AAP said.

The new statement appears in the August edition of the journal Pediatrics.

More than half of the 4 million U.S. children diagnosed with attention-deficit disorders are taking stimulant drugs, the AP reported. Each year, sudden heart-related deaths occur in about four of 2.5 million U.S. children taking stimulants, compared to between eight and 62 deaths a year among all U.S. children, according to the AAP.


No New Fast Food Restaurants Allowed in South LA

In an effort to fight obesity in South Los Angeles, the city council has voted to place a one-year moratorium on new fast food restaurants in that lower-income area of the city. It's believed this is the first action of its kind taken by a major city.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 30 percent of adults in South Los Angeles are obese, compared to 19.1 percent for the metropolitan area and 14.1 percent for the Westside, the Associated Press reported.

Fast food outlets account for 73 percent of restaurants in South Los Angeles, compared to 42 percent in West Los Angeles, a Community Health Councils report found.

During the year-long moratorium, the city will try to encourage restaurants that serve healthier food to open in South Los Angeles, the AP reported.