Health Highlights: Dec. 4, 2015

Health Highlights: Dec. 4, 2015

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

‘Rabbit Fever’ Cases Rise in the U.S.

There’s been a significant rise in cases of tularemia — also called rabbit fever — in the United States this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

There have been 235 cases of the rare illness so far this year, the most since 1984. The number of cases averaged about 125 a year over the last two decades, the Associated Press reported.

At least 100 of this year’s cases have been in four states: Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The bacteria that causes the illness is spread by ticks and deer flies from rabbits and other small animals to people, who can also get it from contact with dead animals or by breathing in the bacteria, the AP reported.

The reasons for this year’s high number of cases are unclear, but weather conditions that helped rodents and bacteria thrive in certain states may be a factor, according to health officials.

Tularemia is treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms of the illness include sudden fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and weakness, the AP reported.


Halt Permanent Changes to Human Genes Until Risks Better Understood: Scientists

The use of gene editing to make changes to human genes that can be passed to future generations should be halted until the risks are better understood, an international group of scientists says.

At a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, the group said it would be “irresponsible to proceed” until more is known about the risks and until there was “broad societal consensus about the appropriateness” of such genetic changes, The New York Times reported.

The group also said that as more knowledge is gained, the issue of making permanent changes to human genes “should be revisited on a regular basis.”

“The overriding question is when, if ever, we will want to use gene editing to change human inheritance,” conference leader David Baltimore, former president of the California Institute of Technology, said when he opened the meeting this week, The Times reported.

The meeting was organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London.

The groups have no regulatory power, but their opinion is likely to be accepted by scientists in most or all nations, according to The Times.


JEM Raw Brand Sprouted Nut Butter Spreads Recalled Due to Salmonella Fears

A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 11 people in nine states has been linked to JEM Raw brand sprouted nut butter spreads, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

No patients have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

Of the eight patients interviewed, all said they had been exposed to a nut butter or nut butter spread, and six said they had been exposed to a JEM Raw brand sprouted nut butter spread, the CDC said.

JEM Raw Chocolate, LLC has recalled its entire line of sprouted nut butter spreads, which were sold nationwide in retail stores and through mail order. The products came in glass jars ranging in size from 1.25 ounces to 16 ounces.

Consumers with the products should throw them away and contact JEM Raw about product replacement, the CDC said.

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