- Red Cross Says It Needs Blood Donors
- Avian Flu Returns, This Time in Hong Kong Poultry
- 'Fire-Safe' Cigarettes Required in 14 States by End of 2009
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Red Cross Says It Needs Blood Donors
With the start of the new year comes the America Red Cross' annual appeal for blood donations nationwide, to offset the drop-off in donations that typically occurs during the holiday season.
The lack of donations occurs each year because people are busier than usual during the holidays, and colder weather arrives. This is especially true this year in the northern United States, which has been plagued with an unusually high number of storms, All Headline News reported.
Less than 5 percent of eligible donors have given blood this year. This lack of blood donors has forced the Red Cross to cancel many blood drives throughout the country, the news service said.
Avian Flu Returns, This Time in Hong Kong Poultry
Avian flu is back, not that it had ever been entirely eradicated.
New cases of the H5N1 flu virus -- the type that caused the destruction of entire flocks of fowl in previous years -- has resurfaced in Hong Kong poultry, the Los Angeles Times reported, adding to reported human cases at the end of 2008 in Indonesia, Egypt and Cambodia.
Two human deaths also were reported -- a 16-year-old Egyptian girl and a 2-year-old Cambodian girl, the newspaper reported, and other human cases of H5N1 were cited in Indonesia, long a hotbed of avian flu. However, as with all other cases involving humans, there was no indication of the virus being spread from person-to-person, a circumstance scientists have long feared could create a worldwide pandemic.
'Fire-Safe' Cigarettes Required in 14 States by End of 2009
While just about every expert agrees there is no such thing as a "safe" cigarette, at least 14 states this year will require that all cigarettes sold within their borders be "fire-safe," USA Today reported.
These self-extinguishing cigarettes go out on their own if they are left unattended or are dropped, the newspaper reported, and this feature could prevent more than 1,000 fires annually.
Mandatory production of fire-safe cigarettes has long been opposed by the tobacco companies, USA Today reported, and Congress has not been able to pass legislation. So, individual states began adopting their own laws.
The first states to make fire-safe cigarettes mandatory are Texas, Delaware, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. Later this year, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Washington and Wisconsin will adopt similar laws.
So, far, the tobacco industry appears to be more cooperative than combative with the new legislation, the newspaper reported. Phillip Morris USA spokesman David Sutton was quoted as saying his company would "continue to work with the states," but would not convert all of its manufacturing to making fire-safe cigarettes.
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