U.S. to modernize poultry inspections to boost food safety

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday it will modernize its decades-old inspection methods for poultry in an attempt to crack down on food-borne illness.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will require all poultry companies to take measures to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs.

“The United States has been relying on a poultry inspection model that dates back to 1957 … The system we are announcing today imposes stricter requirements on the poultry industry and places our trained inspectors where they can better ensure food is being processed safely,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

'Tape measure test' call on diabetes

By James Gallagher
Health editor, BBC News website

The fat man

People are being urged to whip out the tape measure to assess their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Public Health England said there was a “very high risk” of diabetes with waistlines over 40in (102cm) in men or 35in (88cm) in women.

It warned that the disease could “cripple” the NHS, 10% of whose budget was already spent on it.

The charity Diabetes UK said the country was facing a “devastating” type 2 diabetes epidemic.

Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma attends a meeting of regional group Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Yamoussoukro June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma attends a meeting of regional group Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Yamoussoukro June 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

(Reuters) – Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims, joining neighboring Liberia in imposing controls as the death toll from the outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa.

The World Health Organization said it would launch a $100 million response plan on Friday during a meeting with the affected nations in Guinea. It was in urgent talks with donors and international agencies to send more medical staff and resources to the region, it said.

Loyola's Sexual Wellness Clinic to help break down the stigma associated with sexual dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction among couples is common, yet it often goes untreated, according to specialists at Loyola University Health System’s Sexual Wellness Clinic.

Loyola’s clinic, which opened last fall, has helped to break down the stigma associated with sexual dysfunction and the barriers that prevent couples from seeking help. The clinic will offer another six-week program this fall for couples who are experiencing sexual health problems. The program will combine the expertise of various specialists to address common emotional and physical challenges that couples face in their sexual relationships.

Psoriatic arthritis patients need better screening, warns panel of experts

Leading experts have joined together for the first time to call for better screening of psoriatic arthritis to help millions of people worldwide suffering from the condition.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) causes painful joint inflammation and can cause irreversible joint damage if left untreated.

PsA tends to affect people with the skin condition psoriasis, which causes a red, scaly rash, and affects approximately two per cent of people in the UK.

Around one in five go on to develop PsA — usually within ten years of the initial skin problem being diagnosed.

U.S. FDA panel reviews Baxter immune therapy's long-term safety

(Reuters) – Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Thursday to discuss the relative risks and benefits of Baxter International Inc’s experimental treatment for certain hereditary disorders of the immune system.

The FDA on Wednesday posted its preliminary assessment of the data on its website. The agency is seeking guidance from a panel of outside experts on whether the benefits of the product outweigh the risks. The FDA is not obligated to follow the recommendations of its advisors, but typically does so.

Liberia shuts schools, quarantines communities in bid to halt Ebola

(Reuters) – Liberia will close schools and consider quarantining some communities, it said on Wednesday, announcing the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the steps, part of an action plan that includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.

Ebola has been blamed for 672 deaths in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organisation figures, as under-funded healthcare systems have struggled to cope with the epidemic. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.

England records rise in dementia

By Helen Briggs
Health editor, BBC News website

SeasideSeaside towns such as the Isle of Wight have a high number of dementia diagnoses

The number of people in England diagnosed with dementia has risen by 62% over seven years.

In 2013-14, 344,000 people received a diagnosis – up from 213,000 in 2006-07, when statistics were first collected.

The provisional figures also suggest an 8% rise in the number of recorded dementia cases since 2012-13.

Sierra Leone's top Ebola doctor dies from virus

Sheik Umar Khan, head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone, poses for a picture in Freetown, June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Umaru Fofana

Sheik Umar Khan, head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone, poses for a picture in Freetown, June 25, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Umaru Fofana

(Reuters) – The doctor leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the worst Ebola outbreak on record died from the virus on Tuesday, the country’s chief medical officer said.

The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was credited with treating more than 100 patients, follows those of dozens of local health workers and the infection of two American medics in neighboring Liberia, highlighting the dangers faced by staff trying to halt the disease’s spread across West Africa.