Health Highlights: May 13, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Five More MERS Deaths in Saudi Arabia
Five more people in Saudi Arabia have died from the MERS respiratory virus, health officials said Monday.
The deaths occurred in the capital Riyadh and the western cities of Jiddah and Medina, according to the Saudi Health Ministry.
Since MERS was first identified in 2012, there have been 147 deaths and 491 confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia, the Associated Press reported. Most of the world's cases of MERS and deaths from the disease have occurred in the kingdom.
Two MERS cases have been confirmed in the United States. The latest case involved a resident of Saudi Arabia who was visiting Florida. The man is being treated in an Orlando hospital.
The patient in the earlier, unassociated case was released from an Indiana hospital late last week, the AP reported. That patient was a health care worker who'd had close contact with MERS patients in Saudi Arabia.
MERS kills about one-quarter of people infected with the virus, which can spread between people through close contact. It's believed that camels carry the virus and can transmit it to people.
U.S. Company Donates Hemophilia Drugs to Poor Nations
A U.S. biotechnology company says it will donate hundreds of millions of dollars worth of hemophilia drugs to developing nations.
Biogen Idec Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. pledged to give 1 billion units of clotting factor to poor nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America over the next 10 years, the Boston Globe reported.
People with hemophilia lack proteins required to control bleeding. Clotting factor helps prevent uncontrollable bleeding in patients with the inherited disorder. A person with severe hemophilia may use up to 5,000 units of clotting factor a week.
Many hemophilia patients in poor countries can't afford treatment. As a result, most don't live into adulthood, according to Dr. David Kuter, chief of hematology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Biogen's announcement of its donation coincides with its launch of new hemophilia drugs, the Globe reported.
Oil and Gas Wells on Federal, Indian Lands Lack Oversight: Report
Thousands of high-risk oil and gas wells on federal government and Indian lands have not been inspected by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The audit said that weak oversight of wells that pose potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental harm is due to incomplete monitoring data and policies based on outdated science, the Associated Press reported.
The congressional investigators also said that the Bureau of Land Management failed to coordinate effectively with state regulators in New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.
The GAO said the bureau "cannot accurately and efficiently identify whether federal and Indian resources are properly protected or that federal and Indian resources are at risk of being extracted without agency approval."
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