Bird Flu Kills 19-Year-Old Chinese Woman
A 19-year-old woman from northern China died from the H5N1 bird flu virus on Monday, after being admitted to the hospital on December 27, CNN.com reports. Huang Yanqing handled ducks at a Hebei Province market, near Beijing, on December 19. She purchased nine ducks and cleaned the dead birds before giving them away to friends and relatives. After she got sick, she was in close contact with 116 people. But no other cases of bird flu have been reported in the same area. The woman's home has been disinfected and isolated, but the market where she bought the birds is still selling ducks. The H5N1 virus has killed 248 people worldwide since 2003, according to CNN.com. Some are worried that the bird flu could mutate into a virus that can be transmitted from person to person, the New York Times reports.
Learn all you need to know about bird flu in this U.S. News primer. A new strategy to vaccinate people against avian flu in advance was proposed last year. Europeans realized the reality of bird flu in 2006.
How to Save on Medical Costs by Going Generic
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that health expenses increased by only 6.1 percent in 2007, compared with 6.7 percent in 2006. The reason? Many people have switched to generic drugs, particularly as the patents have expired in recent years on some of the pricier blockbuster brand-name drugs like the cholesterol-lowering statin Zocor and the antidepressant Zoloft. To get additional savings—even on over-the-counter treatments—try these 5 ways to save on medical costs by going generic.
While saving money on your medications may feel good, keep in mind that the quality is not always equivalent to brand-name products. Here are a few other ways to save money on your prescriptions if you're feeling strapped for cash.
Steve Jobs's Letter Does Little to Clear Up Health Mystery
Apple CEO Steve Jobs's remarks about his health issues may have sparked a rise in the company's shares, but they did very little to indicate exactly what's wrong with him, three doctors who are not involved with his care say. In a public letter posted on Apple's website, Jobs—who in 2004 was treated for a rare pancreatic cancer—said that his doctors believe they've found the cause of the persistent weight loss he experienced last year, Katherine Hobson reports. The culprit: "a hormone imbalance that has been 'robbing' me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy," Jobs wrote. After "sophisticated blood tests" confirmed the diagnosis, he's begun treatment for this "nutritional problem." The remedy is "relatively simple and straightforward," Jobs said.
But his statement is anything but simple and straightforward, physicians who aren't treating Jobs say. Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of California-San Francisco, points out that the key elements in his statement—the hormone imbalance, protein "robbing," and simple remedy for what Jobs calls a nutritional problem—do not clearly point to a single diagnosis. "These three medical threads don't add up to a strong cable," Lustig says. That means the problem could be related to Jobs's bout with pancreatic cancer...or it might be a completely separate health issue. "You cannot make a diagnosis" from the letter, Lustig says.
Other high-profile people have also battled cancer in the last several years, including former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died of thyroid cancer in 2005, and Ted Kennedy, who is currently battling brain cancer. U.S. News Health Editor Bernadine Healy, M.D., wrote a magazine cover story about her own fight with brain cancer. Also, here is what you need to know about mapping the cancer genome.
—January W. Payne
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