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March 21, 2023 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


68 now sickened, 4 lose eyeballs in outbreak linked to eyedrops  (Ars Technica)

An alarming outbreak of extensively drug-resistant bacteria linked to eye drops has now sickened 68 people across 16 states, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 16 people have been hospitalized, eight have lost vision, and four have had their eyeballs surgically removed (enucleation). One person has died, which was reported earlier…The products were sold under the brand names EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Eye Ointment, which were available nationwide via Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers. Both products have been recalled, and the Food and Drug Administration put out separate warnings for consumers to immediately stop using the products.

Women sue Texas over abortion ban, say it risked their lives  (AP)

Five women who said they were denied abortions even when pregnancy endangered their lives are suing Texas over its abortion ban, the latest legal fight against state restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade…. According to the Texas suit brought by the five women and two doctors, one woman, Amanda Zurawski, was forced to wait until she developed blood poisoning before being provided an abortion. The four others had to travel out of state to receive medical care for pregnancy-related complications after doctors recommended an abortion because of the deteriorating condition of the woman, the baby or a twin — care that could not be legally provided in Texas….

Walgreens and mifepristone: Abortion pill move leads California to cut ties  (NPR)

Last week, Walgreens said it will not distribute abortion pills in states where Republican officials have threatened legal action. Now a blue state says it will cut ties with the pharmacy giant because of the move.  "California won't be doing business with @walgreens – or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk," Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a tweet yesterday with a link to news coverage of Walgreen's decision.

EPA 'good neighbor' rule targets downwind pollution by power plants  (NPR)

A new "good neighbor" rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency will restrict smokestack emissions from power plants and other industrial sources that burden downwind areas with smog-causing pollution they can't control. Nearly two-dozen states will have to cut harmful industrial emissions of nitrogen oxide and other pollutants to improve air quality for millions of people living in downwind communities. / The final rule, issued Wednesday, will save thousands of lives, keep tens of thousands of people out of the hospital, prevent millions of asthma attacks and reduce sick days, according to the agency.

As African children died, doctors fought to get toxic Indian cough syrup banned (Reuters)

… the deaths of more than 70 Gambian children from Acute Kidney Injury were linked by global health officials to cough syrups made in India and contaminated with ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG). The patients were the first of about 300 children killed worldwide last year by contaminated cough syrups, not all of them made in India. It was the deadliest total poisoning on record from toxins that have been known to scientists for decades.

Feds knew for years fentanyl-tainted pills from Mexican pharmacies were killing Americans (Los Angeles Times)

Officials at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and State Department have known for more than three years that some pharmacies in Mexico are selling counterfeit medications laced with illicit fentanyl — and that American tourists are overdosing and dying from them. A California medical examiner first alerted federal authorities in the spring of 2019, when 29-year-old Brennan Harrell died of a fentanyl overdose after he and a friend bought pills at a drug store in Cabo San Lucas.

Here's what we know about long COVID and its treatment  (NPR)

On March 13, 2020, then-President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Three years later, as the end of that national emergency approaches, the CDC has released a guidance saying, quote, "the virus that causes COVID-19 can have lasting effects on nearly every organ and organ system of the body weeks, months and potentially years after the infection." Have we even begun to dent the surface of what we know about so-called long COVID and its effects?

Can your pet dog or cat infect you with a hidden virus? (NPR)

The vast majority of time that you get sick, you’re infected by another human. But that's not always the case. You can absolutely catch viruses from your pets, including dogs and cats.

Statin alternative lowers cholesterol and heart attack risk without muscle pain  (NPR)

People who took daily doses of bempedoic acid for more than three years had about a 23% lower risk of having a heart attack, in that period, compared to those taking a placebo. There was also a 19% reduction in coronary revascularizations, which are procedures that restore blood flow to the heart, such as a bypass operation or stenting to open arteries.

What went wrong with Britain's National Health Service  (NPR)

Junior doctors in Britain's National Health Service are striking, the latest in a wave of health worker protests — fueling debate about the future of Britain's system of free universal health care.


FCC cracks down on spammy text messages (CNN)

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on spammy text messages with new rules for telecom companies, citing a surge of consumer complaints in recent years tied to unwanted robotexts. The new rules require phone providers to block text messages from suspicious sources including phone numbers that appear to be “invalid, unallocated, or unused.”

Facebook parent Meta slashes another 10,000 jobs  (AP)

Facebook parent Meta is slashing another 10,000 jobs and will not fill 5,000 open positions as the social media pioneer cuts costs….it will reduce the size of its recruiting team and make further cuts in its tech groups in late April, and then its business groups in late May….The Menlo Park, California, company has invested billions of dollars to realign its focus on the metaverse. In February it posted lower fourth-quarter profit and revenue, hurt by a downturn in the online advertising market and competition from rivals such as TikTok. The company announced 11,000 job cuts in November.





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