California Court Ruling Protects Right to Care for Gays, Lesbians
The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that doctors cannot refuse to treat gay men or lesbians for religious reasons, the Washington Post reports. The constitutional right to free exercise of religion doesn't trump the state law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation for businesses that exist to serve the public, the court ruled. If a doctor would like to refuse treatment because of religious beliefs, he or she would have to refuse all patients or furnish a doctor who can provide the same services to all patients, the Post reports. The decision was the result of a lawsuit filed by a woman who said doctors at a fertility clinic refused to treat her because she is a lesbian. The doctors—Christians who claimed the First Amendment's right to freedom of religion covered them in this case—said they refused treatment because the woman is unmarried.
West Nile Symptoms May Linger for a Year
While most people infected with West Nile virus make a full recovery, many may develop conditions such as impaired physical and mental function that can linger for roughly a year, suggests a study published today in Annals of Internal Medicine. The study of 156 people with the illness showed that fatigue and mood problems may develop as well, and those with the most severe complications may take slightly longer to recover. The study also found that men and those who lack coexisting health problems had a faster recovery of their mental function. About 80 percent of people who are exposed to West Nile virus don't develop symptoms, but about 20 percent end up with West Nile fever. About 1 in 150 people who have West Nile ends up with severe symptoms such as neck stiffness, high fever, stupor, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, vision loss, muscle weakness, numbness, and paralysis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Last month, U.S. News described a new weapon against West Nile virus, after the CDC recommended a fourth insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites. We also provided five tips for avoiding mosquito bites.
First Drug Approved to Treat Huntington’s Disease Symptoms
The Food and Drug Administration approved Xenazine (tetrabenazine) last week as the first medication to treat chorea, the jerky, involuntary movement that occurs in people with Huntington's disease. This is the first medication approved specifically to treat any symptom of Huntington's disease, an inherited illness that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. The medication suppresses the ability of dopamine to work as a chemical communicator between certain nerve cells in the brain. In people with Huntington's, this system is overactive, causing chorea. Xenazine can, however, cause serious side effects, including suicidal thoughts and depression. The FDA advises that the drug shouldn't be used by suicidal patients or those with untreated depression. Other side effects include insomnia, drowsiness, restlessness, and nausea.
Last year, research in mice showed that tetrabenazine may prevent brain cells from dying.
A Promising Way to Prevent ACL Injuries
A recent study found that NCAA Division I female soccer players asked to follow the PEP (Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance) program three times a week had an overall ACL injury rate 41 percent lower than a group of female athletes conducting a regular warm-up, Katherine Hobson reports. The 15-minute PEP program encompasses stretching, strengthening, agility, and plyometrics (which involves jumping and other exercises designed to increase muscles' explosive power). "We developed the program to address the deficits that we see in females, especially weakness in the lateral hip muscles, the glutes, and the core muscles," says Holly Silvers, a physical therapist at the Santa Monica (Calif.) Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group and one of the developers of the PEP program.
—January W. Payne