Health Highlights: July 25, 2013

HealthDay SHARE
  • Luxury Cruise Ship Fails Surprise CDC Inspection
  • Don't Change Medicare Payment System: Panel
  • Cat Allergy Trigger Identified
  • High Lead Levels Found in Some Mexican Salsa Brands
  • Baby Einstein 'Musical Motion Activity Jumper' Sets Recalled

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

Luxury Cruise Ship Fails Surprise CDC Inspection

The luxury cruise ship Silver Shadow failed a surprise inspection by U.S. health officials and was cited for attempting to move 15 trolleys of food from the galley to individual crew cabins to avoid inspection.

The snap inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducted June 17 in Skagway, Alaska after an anonymous crew member sent photos to the CDC showing meat in crew cabin sinks and trays of food in the corridors in the passageways outside of those cabins, CNN reported.

The ship, owned by Silversea Cruises, was given a failing grade of 82. Anything less than 84 is considered "less than satisfactory," according to the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program website.

In its ads, Florida-based Silversea Cruises emphasizes luxury and what it claims is a "world class" culinary experience. Passengers pay an average of $5,000 a week to sail, CNN reported.

Silversea vessels have always scored in the highest range of grades in the past and these inspection results on the Silver Shadow were an anomaly, company spokeswoman Gina Finocchiaro told CNN. Neither she or anyone else at Silversea would divulge whether any employees were disciplined over the inspection findings.


Don't Change Medicare Payment System: Panel

Changing the Medicare payment system to reward hospitals and doctors in areas of the country that provide high-quality care at low cost is not a good idea, according to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.

The conclusion by a 19-member panel after a three-year study challenges statements by members of Congress from states such as Iowa and Minnesota who claim that Medicare has shortchanged their health care providers for decades, The New York Times reported.

The panel said Congress should not create a "value index" to channel Medicare funds to regions that provide high-quality health services at relatively low cost. They said this would be unfair because it would "reward inefficient providers in low-cost regions and punish more efficient providers in high-cost regions."

The panel explained that a regional value index makes no sense because spending for doctors and hospitals in a single area often vary as much as spending for health care providers in different regions, The Times reported.


Cat Allergy Trigger Identified

Scientists who discovered what triggers allergic reactions to cats say their findings could lead to new treatments for the problem.

The team at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. pinpointed how the body's immune system detects cat allergen, resulting in symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, BBC News reported.

The findings, published in the Journal of Immunology, are a major step forward in understanding how cat allergen causes allergic reactions, said the charity group Allergy U.K.

"Cat allergen is particularly difficult to avoid as it is a 'sticky' molecule that is carried into every building on people's shoes and clothes," Maureen Jenkins, the group's director of clinical services, told BBC News. "It can also still be found in a home, on the walls and ceiling or fittings, even a few years after a cat has ceased to live there."

She said these findings "could pave the way for treatments for those with persistent disease triggered by cat allergen and, in the future, potentially dog and house dust mite allergen."


High Lead Levels Found in Some Mexican Salsa Brands

High levels of lead have been found in four Mexican salsa brands that are sold in some areas of the United States.

The brands include El Pato Salsa Picante, Salsa Habanera, Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero and Bufalo Salsa Clasica, said researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, ABC News/Univision reported.