Health Highlights: May 2, 2012

Topics: Press, Medical / Health Reporting

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

258 Now Sickened in Tuna-Linked Salmonella Outbreak

A salmonella outbreak linked to a frozen yellowfin tuna product has now sickened 258 people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

In a statement, the agency said 32 people have been hospitalized but there have been no deaths reported.

The CDC says it is now including two types of salmonella in the "outbreak strains" -- Salmonella Bareilly (247 cases) and Salmonella Nchanga (11 cases).

On April 16, nearly 59,000 pounds of tuna product linked to the outbreak -- labeled Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA -- were recalled by Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif. The product, which is scraped off fish bones, was sold to grocery stores and restaurants to make dishes such as sushi, sashimi and ceviche.

As reported early in the outbreak by the Associated Press, many people who became ill reported eating raw tuna in sushi as "spicy tuna."

As of Wednesday, the CDC said illnesses linked Salmonella Bareilly had been reported in: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), California (2), Connecticut (9), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (10), Illinois (23), Louisiana (3), Maryland (24), Massachusetts (27), Mississippi (2), Missouri (4), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (25), New York (39), North Carolina (4), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (2), Texas (4), Virginia (16), Vermont (1) and Wisconsin (16). Illnesses linked to Salmonella Nchanga had been reported in Georgia (2), New Jersey (2), New York (5), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1), the CDC said.

The CDC noted that salmonella illness is often serious for infants, older adults, pregnant women and persons with impaired immune systems, and these individuals should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish.

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USDA Introduces New Rules to Combat E. Coli Contamination in Meat

Updated rules to keep potentially the deadly bacterium out of meat have been introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new regulations allow inspectors to start looking for meat contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 as soon as early testing shows a potential problem. The goal of the new policy is to accelerate the USDA's ability to track down and contain contaminated hamburger and ground beef, USA Today reported.

The USDA says it will be quicker to take action if there are signs of trouble. Previously, the agency did not launch investigations into possible contaminated meat until several tests were completed, a process that often took days.

The policy change "buys us 24 to 48 hours in terms of finding the sources," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, USA Today reported.

Other new safety measures introduced by the USDA include an early reporting system that requires companies to notify the agency within 24 hours if potentially harmful meat or poultry has been shipped. The agency has also added six new E. coli strains to a government watch list.

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Study Points to Trigger Behind Need for Nighttime Urination

Low levels of a certain protein might spur people to get up numerous times in the night to urinate, according to a new study conducted in mice.

Japanese researchers found that reduced levels of the connexin43 protein trick the bladder into believing that it is full, which sends a "must urinate" signal to the brain, Agence France-Presse reported.

The finding was made in laboratory mice that had been genetically modified to lack the gene that produces connexin43.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

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More American Teens Using Marijuana: Survey

A new survey says a growing number of American teens are smoking marijuana.

Past-month use of marijuana rose from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. The percentage of teens who smoked marijuana 20 or more times a month increased from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent last year, according to the Partnership at Drugfree.org survey results released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Abuse of prescription drugs appears to be easing among youth in grades 9 through 12, but still remains high.

The survey also found that teens' use of harder drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine has stabilized in recent years, the AP reported.

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Dog Food Recall Expanded

Diamond Pet Foods' recall of dog food due to possible salmonella contamination has been expanded to include puppy food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The latest recall is for Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food that was distributed in 12 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, msnbc.com reported.

Previous recalls were for Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice dry dog food and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food.

The FDA says there have not been any reports of dogs becoming ill after eating the recalled products, msnbc.com reported.

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Mother Charged After Young Daughter Suffers Burns in Tanning Booth

A New Jersey woman has been charged with child endangerment after she allegedly took her 5-year-old daughter into a stand-up tanning booth and the girl suffered burns.

Police were called to an elementary school on April 24 because a kindergarten student was suffering pain due to a "pretty severe sunburn," Nutley Police Det. Anthony Montanari told The Record newspaper, the Associated Press reported.

New Jersey law bans anyone younger than age 14 from using tanning salons.

Patricia Krentcil, 44, posted $25,000 bail and was released to authorities in Camden County, where she had an outstanding warrant on a municipal charge, the AP reported.

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Appeals Judge Grants Extension in Planned Parenthood Funding Case

In the ongoing legal fight over funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas, a federal appeals judge on Tuesday said more time is needed to hear arguments on whether that state can prevent the group from receiving funding as part of the the Women's Health Program.

The move comes less than 24 hours after another federal district court judge, Judge Lee Yeakel, issued an order forbidding Texas from enforcing a law that bans Planned Parenthood from participating in the program.

On Tuesday, Fifth Circuit Appeals Judge Jerry Smith gave lawyers for eight Planned Parenthood clinics involved in a lawsuit against the state until 5 p.m. Tuesday to present their arguments about why Texas should be prevented from enforcing the law, the Associated Press reported.

"We are disappointed in the stay granted last night," Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Austin Family Planning, told the AP. "When presented with both sides, the District Court agreed the rule was likely unconstitutional, and that implementation would cause a serious problem with health care access for Texas women."

Under the appeals judge's order, Texas can exclude the Planned Parenthood clinics from the Women's Health Program today, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

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