Health Highlights: Sept. 12, 2019

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

VA May Have to Pay Billions for Veterans’ Emergency Care Claims

U.S. veterans could receive billions of dollars in denied claims for out-of-pocket emergency care costs at non-VA facilities after a federal court ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied the claims.

Federal law requires the VA to pay those emergency medical expenses if they are not covered by private insurance, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims said Monday, the Associated Press reported.

The VA does not have to cover copayments in such cases, the court ruled.

The VA said Wednesday that it’s reviewing the decision, the AP reported.


Allergy Danger Spurs Tuna Steak Recall

Refrigerated, wild-caught yellowfin tuna loins have been recalled by Alfa International Seafood, Inc. of Florida because they may have high levels of histamine that can trigger an allergic reaction.

The tuna loins were sold at Baker’s, Dillon’s, Gerbes, JayC Food, Kroger and Payless stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The tuna loins, labeled as either Yellowfin Tuna Steaks or Seasoned Yellowfin Tuna Steaks, were sold from August 20, 2019 through September 7, 2019 and had sell by dates between August 29, 2019 and September 14, 2019.

There have been five reported illnesses caused by the tuna loins, according to the company. Elevated levels of histamine can produce an allergic reaction called histamine or scombroid fish poisoning. Symptoms can begin within minutes to several hours after eating the affected fish.

Symptoms may include tingling or burning sensation in the mouth, facial swelling, rash, hives and itchy skin, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms typically resolve on their own within several hours, but people with severe symptoms should get immediate medical attention, the company advised.

Consumers should return the tuna steaks to a store for a full refund. For more information, call Alfa International at 1-855-551-0118.


Scientists Use Gene-Editing Tool CRISPR in Attempt to Cure HIV

The first attempt to use the gene-editing tool CRISPR to cure HIV infection was unsuccessful but the approach does show promise.

Chinese researchers used the tool to give a patient blood cells that were altered to resist the AIDS-causing virus, the Associated Press reported.

The study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s the first published report of trying to use CRISPR to treat a disease in an adult, according to the AP.

Even though CRISPR did not cure the patient’s HIV infection, the gene-editing tool appears precise and safe in the patient and appears to hold promise, said Dr. Carl June, a University of Pennsylvania genetics expert who wrote an accompanying commentary in the journal.

“That’s really good for the field,” June told the AP.

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