Health Highlights: June 2, 2017

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

Backyard Poultry Linked to Salmonella Outbreaks

Eight separate multi-state salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry in backyard flocks are being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal, state and local agencies.

Between Jan. 4 and May 13, 2017, there were 372 cases reported in 47 states. Seventy-one people have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths. Thirty-six percent of patients have been children.

These outbreaks are expected to continue for the next several months, according to the CDC.

As the trend of raising backyard poultry such as chickens and ducks grows in the U.S., more people are getting salmonella infections from these birds, the CDC said.

From 1990 to 2016, 65 outbreaks of human salmonella infections were linked to contact with live poultry. Investigations in 2016 involved a record number (895) of illnesses linked to live poultry.

Any live poultry can carry salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean, so it’s important to take precautions when handling and caring for birds, the CDC said.

If you keep backyard poultry: wash hands after handling live poultry; do not allow live chickens, ducks, and geese in the house; do not allow children younger than 5 years to handle or touch live poultry and eggs without supervision; do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.


Trump Coverage Changes Could Mean Loss of Birth Control for Hundreds of Thousands of Women

Hundreds of thousands of women who now receive birth control benefits at no cost could lose them under proposed Trump administration changes to contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

The change would significantly increase the number of employers and insurers that could qualify for exemptions from the coverage requirements due to moral or religious objections, The New York Times reported.

The new policy could take effect as soon as they are published in the Federal Register.

“These interim final rules will result in some enrollees in plans of exempt entities not receiving coverage or payments for contraceptive services,” according to an explanation of the proposed policy change, The Times reported.

Currently, more than 55 million women have birth control coverage without out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act.


CDC Changes Stance on Technique Allowing HIV-Positive Men to Father Children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says a laboratory technique called “sperm washing” makes it safe for HIV-infected men to father children.

The agency said it reviewed nearly 4,000 cases worldwide and concluded that women don’t become infected with HIV from washed sperm, the Associated Press reported.

The change in the CDC’s stance was announced Thursday.

Sperm washing has been around for decades and endorsed by a number of medical organizations. The technique involves separating sperm from HIV infected cells in semen and using the sperm for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, the AP reported.

Recently, the CDC said some couples in which the man has HIV can try to conceive if the man has been taking HIV-suppressing medications and the woman takes a drug that protects against HIV infection.


Medicaid May Have Been Overcharged $1.27 Billion for EpiPens: U.S. Senator

Medicaid may have been overcharged as much as $1.27 billion over a decade for EpiPens, according to a U.S. senator.

Epipens are injection devices used to treat potentially fatal allergic reactions.

The $1.27 billion cited by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa is far more than the $465 million that EpiPen maker Mylan agreed to pay the federal government last year to settle claims that it overcharged Medicaid for the devices, NBC News reported.

For years, Mylan classified EpiPen as a generic drug, which pays Medicaid a lower rate for rebates than is paid by brand-name drugs. Officials say EpiPen is supposed to be a brand-name product under the rebate program.

Grassely said he learned about the significant difference between Mylan’s settlement amount and the potential overpayment by the government after asking for information from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, NBC News reported.

Also, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently provided records to the Senate showing that “CMS told Mylan on several occasions that the EpiPen was misclassified” as a generic drug under Medicaid’s rebate program, “yet Mylan failed to correct the classification,” according to Grassley.

NBC News said a Mylan spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the matter.


Florida to Provide Miscarriage Certificates

Women in Florida who’ve had miscarriages in Florida will soon be able to obtain a birth certificate-like document.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill for the state to start issuing “certificates of nonviable birth” beginning July 1, making it the first state to implement such a policy, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

The certificates will be issued upon request if a woman’s pregnancy ends after nine weeks and before 20 weeks of gestation. Parents would be able to name the lost fetus on the certificate. Pregnancies that end at 20 weeks or later are considered stillbirths and require a death certificate.

The new law was criticized by some pro-choice groups, who wondered if it’s an attempt to define when life begins. Politicians who backed the law claim it’s meant to enable parents to acknowledge their unborn baby and insisted it was nonpolitical, CBS/AP reported.

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