Killer virus spreads unchecked through U.S. hog belt, pushing pork to record


(Reuters) – John Goihl, a hog nutritionist in Shakopee, Minnesota, knows a farmer in his state who lost 7,500 piglets just after they were born. In Sampson County, North Carolina, 12,000 of Henry Moore’s piglets died in three weeks. Some 30,000 piglets perished at John Prestage’s Oklahoma operation in the fall of 2013.

The killer stalking U.S. hog farms is known as PEDv, a malady that in less than a year has wiped out more than 10 percent of the nation’s pig population and helped send retail pork prices to record highs. The highly contagious Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is puzzling scientists searching for its origins and its cure and leaving farmers devastated in ways that go beyond financial losses.

Egypt discovers first case of potentially deadly MERS virus


(Reuters) – Egypt has discovered its first case of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in an Egyptian citizen who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

The virus, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has spread from the Gulf to Europe and has already caused over 90 deaths.

The patient, 27, is being treated for pneumonia at a Cairo hospital and is in a stable condition, the ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia says MERS virus cases top 300, 5 more die


(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Friday it had discovered 14 more cases of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the kingdom, bringing the total number to 313.

A health ministry statement said the new cases had been reported in the capital Riyadh, the coastal city of Jeddah and the “holy capital” Mecca in the past 24 hours. Authorities had also registered five more deaths due to the virus, it said.

Cholesterol drug users may use pills as a license to overeat


(Reuters Health) – People who take the common cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may feel a false sense of security and eat a bit more, according to a new study.

Researchers found that U.S. adults taking statins in 1999-2000 were eating fewer calories than people not taking the drugs, but statin users were eating about the same amount as non-users by 2009-2010.

“We believe that physicians need to reemphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle to statin-users,” Dr. Takehiro Sugiyama told Reuters Health in an email.

U.S. military suicides fall among active duty, rise in reserves


U.S. army soldiers are seen marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

U.S. army soldiers are seen marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, March 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri


(Reuters) – Suicides among active duty U.S. forces fell 18 percent in 2013 from a peak in 2012 but climbed among reserve forces, the Pentagon said on Friday as it unveiled figures showing suicide still far outpaced combat deaths among U.S. military personnel.

Hiking at any altitude may benefit men with cardio risk factors


(Reuters Health) – Just three weeks of exercise and a healthy diet produced positive changes in middle-aged men with a cluster of heart risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, according to a new study from Austria.

Among two groups of men sent on a hiking vacation, one at sea level and the other at just over 5,500 feet altitude, benefits were about the same and no negatives were seen, suggesting that exercising in the thinner air at altitude is neither better nor riskier for health, the researchers say.

BMI linked to breast cancer risk after menopause


(Reuters Health) – Overall body size, rather than shape, is a better indicator of breast cancer risk after menopause, according to a recent study.

The analysis of U.S. women contradicts past research suggesting that having an apple shape with a large midriff measurement, regardless of weight or body mass index (BMI), might signal greater breast cancer risk.

“When we looked at both BMI and waist size, we found that BMI explained the relationship (with breast cancer risk), and that the waist circumference had little effect,” said Mia Gaudet, an American Cancer Society epidemiologist who led the new study.

Health atlas shows risks by area








By Pippa Stephens
Health reporter, BBC News


Map showing skin cancer risk in women in England and WalesThe research mapped the incidence of a range of diseases alongside environmental factors


A new online map of England and Wales allows people to enter their postcode and find their community’s risk of developing 14 conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer.

The map presents population-wide health information for England and Wales.

The researchers at Imperial College London pointed out that it could not be used to see an individual’s risk.

Exercises may help men with premature ejaculation


(Reuters Health) – Regularly practicing pelvic floor exercises helped improve lifelong premature ejaculation issues in a small group of men, a new study has found.

According to the American Urological Association, premature ejaculation affects about one in five U.S. men younger than 60.

“Pelvic floor muscles are actively involved in sexual function, and it is natural to assume that by improving the function of these muscles, one will improve one’s sexual performance and outcome,” said Yuchin Chang, a physical therapist at Professional Physical Therapy and Training in Summit, New Jersey. She was not involved in the new research.

Experts cast doubt on Saudi push for Middle East virus vaccine


(Reuters) – Official talk in Saudi Arabia of racing to develop a vaccine against a deadly new virus may be a way to reassure a fearful population, but it is scientifically wide of the mark and makes little sense in public health terms.

Experts in virology say the biochemical know-how is there to create a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, but question why authorities would want to spend millions immunizing an entire population against a disease that has affected only a few hundred people.