Health Highlights: June 9, 2015

By on June 9, 2015

Health Highlights: June 9, 2015

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

Woman with Drug-Resistant TB Triggers Search for Other Potential Cases

U.S. health authorities are trying to find people who may have had contact with a woman who has highly drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The woman flew from India to Chicago in April. She then traveled to Missouri and Tennessee before returning to Chicago, where she sought treatment at a hospital about seven weeks after arriving in the U.S., The New York Times reported.

At the hospital, the woman was diagnosed with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). On Friday, she was transferred by special air and ground ambulances to a U.S. National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Md.

The woman is in an isolation room and the hospital “is providing care and treatment for the patient in connection with an existing NIH clinical protocol for treating TB, including XDR forms,” the NIH said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to obtain a list of passengers who were on the same flight as the woman, and is also working with Illinois health officials to identify other people who may have had contact with the woman and determine if they require TB tests, The Times reported.

The risk to the public is low, the CDC said Monday.

XDR-TB is rare in the U.S., with only 63 reported cases between 1993 and 2011, according to The Times. Drug-resistant types of TB are more common in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.


Giving New Mothers IUD at Childbirth Reduces Unintended Pregnancies: Study

Giving new mothers an intrauterine device (IUD) at childbirth can help reduce unintended pregnancies, a new study says.

Typically, new mothers are told to wait six weeks before they see their doctor about birth control, but half have resumed having sex by then, according to The New York Times.

This study included 112 women who were giving birth and wanted an IUD. Eighty-three percent of those who received an IUD during their c-sections were still using the birth control devices six months later, compared with 64 percent of those who were told to get an IUD at a separate doctor’s office visit six weeks after giving birth.

The findings were published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Providing IUDs to new mothers at the time of birth could reduce unintended pregnancies and the number of babies conceived within 18 months after a woman gives birth, which would lower the risk of problems such as premature birth, according to study lead author Dr. Erika Levi, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, and colleagues.

Levi noted that the months following childbirth are “an intense, busy, hard time for most women,” The Times reported.

“We need to make it easier for women to get access to the kind of contraception they want as new mothers,” Levi said.


Cat Parasite May Be Linked to Mental Disorders in People: Report

Could a common cat parasite put people with a weakened immune system at risk for schizophrenia and other types of mental illness?

CBS News reports that new research suggests such a possible link, but doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect connection.

More than 60 million people in the United States have the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, but most never experience any symptoms. But in people with a weakened immune system, T. gondii can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis and potentially lead to miscarriages and fetal problems in pregnant women, long-lasting flu-like illness, blindness and even death, CBS News reported.

Previous research had linked T. gondii with schiziophrenia and bipolar disorder, and two recent studies provide further possible evidence of a connection between the parasite and mental illness, the news network said.

In a paper published in the journal Schizophrenia Research, investigators analyzed three previous studies and found that exposure to cats during childhood may be a risk factor for mental disorders late in life, CBS News reported.

“Cat ownership in childhood has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness,” E. Fuller Torrey, of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and Dr. Robert Yolken, of Stanley Laboratory of Developmental Neurovirology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

In a second paper, researchers analyzed 50 published studies and found a potential link between T. gondii and mental disorders. They saw that people infected with the parasite had a nearly two times increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The researchers also found a possible association between T. gondii and addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorders, CBS News reported.

“In schizophrenia, the evidence of an association with T. gondii is overwhelming,” A.L. Sutterland, who’s with the Department of Psychiatry at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, Holland, and colleagues said in a press release, CBS News reported. “These findings may give further clues about how T. gondii infection can possibly [alter] the risk of specific psychiatric disorders.”

Their study was published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

“Children can be protected by keeping their cat exclusively indoors and always covering the sandbox when not in use,” Torrey told CBS News in an email.

Change your cat’s litter box daily and avoid feeding cats raw or undercooked meat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. When changing the litter box, it’s best to wear disposable gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. Pregnant women should not clean litter boxes.

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