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Health Highlights: April 26, 2008

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

    Lexington, Ky., Tops 100 Spring Allergy Capitals


    Lexington, Ky., sits atop the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's 2008 ranking of the leading 100 spring allergy capitals.

    Trailing Lexington on the annual list are: Greensboro, N.C.; Johnson City, Tenn.; Augusta, Ga.; and Jackson, Miss.

    Least likely to make you sneeze and wheeze among the top 100 is Spokane, Wash, preceded by the California cities of San Francisco and Bakersfield, Sarasota, Fla; and Lancaster, Penn.

    Spring is the worst season for many of the more than 35 million Americans with hay fever, medically called allergic rhinitis. The AAFA said it based the rankings on criteria including seasonal pollen counts, use of over-the-counter and prescription allergy drugs, and the number of board certified allergists in each city.


    Public Smoking Snuffed in Beijing Before Olympics

    In a country where cigarettes are so popular that more than half of all male doctors smoke, China has put the kibosh on public smoking in the capital city of Beijing, USA Today reports.

    The crackdown, in advance of the Olympic Games that begin in August, affects most public buildings. But restaurants, bars, and hotels will still allow smoking, assuming they also provide areas that are smoke-free.

    Second-hand smoke kills some 100,000 Chinese annually, according to government estimates cited by the newspaper.

    Earlier this month, experts raised concern over Olympic athletes' health amid Beijing's pervasive air pollution problem. A senior health official in Beijing acknowledged this week that China has 320 million smokers, or close to one-quarter of the world's total, USA Today said.


    Tablets to Treat Gonorrhea Available in U.S.

    Tablets for first-line treatment of gonorrhea are now available in the United States, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The prescription cefiximine 400 milligram tablets are available as of this month.

    In April last year, the CDC updated its recommendations for gonorrhea treatment, no longer recommending fluoroquinoline antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin and levofloxacin) due to data that indicated widespread resistance in the United States to these drugs.

    That left a single class of antibiotics called cephalosporins as the single recommended treatment for gonorrhea. Within this class, the only recommended treatment for all types of gonorrhea (urogenital, rectal and pharyngeal) is an injection form called ceftriaxone. However, for uncomplicated gonorrhea (which hasn't spread to the blood or central nervous system), the CDC now also recommends cefiximine tablets. Since 2002, it's only been available in liquid form, which limited its use because it's not as convenient as a tablet.

    "The availability of cefiximine tablets this month will have a tremendous impact in fighting gonorrhea. This oral option expands a physician's arsenal to combat this serious disease, while giving patients a drug that is easier to take," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a prepared statement.

    Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States, after chlamydia.


    Doctors Need to Improve Bedside Manner: Poll

    Some 78 percent of American adults want their doctors to improve their bedside manner, a new survey finds.

    The poll of 1,000 people also found that less than half described their doctor's recent conduct as attentive, and just 32 percent described their doctor as compassionate during their most recent appointment, United Press International reported.

    Among the other findings from the survey conducted for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation:

    • Less than half of doctors cited displayed an interest in their patients' overall well-being, rather than focusing on specific ailments.
    • 40 percent said their doctor made them feel rushed.
    • 36 percent said their doctor didn't provide enough opportunity to discuss their concerns.
    • 36 percent said their physician was outright rude or condescending.

    "Many past studies have shown a strong correlation between patient and doctor satisfaction and better overall patient outcomes when doctors develop a relationship with their patients," Dr. Arnold P. Gold, founder of the foundation, said in a prepared statement.

    "What this survey shows us is that patients are still craving for their physician to see the 'person' behind the prognosis and really want a 'connectedness' with their doctor," UPI quoted Gold as saying.


    Recalled LawnBott Mowers Pose Laceration Hazard

    About 530 LawnBott lawn mowers are being recalled because they may pose a laceration hazard, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    The cutting blades may continue to rotate when the mower is lifted from the ground, and the spacing on the side of the mower could allow room for a person's foot to go beyond the shield and be struck by the blade, the agency said.

    There's been one report of a consumer who had minor lacerations after lifting a mower from the ground.

    The recall involves mowers with model numbers LB2000, LB2100, LB3000 and LB3200. They were sold at Kyodo America dealers across the U.S. from January 2006 through December 2007.

    Consumers should stop using the mowers and should call Kyodo America at 877-465-9636 to register their mowers for repairs that will be available by the end of June, the CPSC said.


    U.S Senate Passes Genetic Anti-Discrimination Bill

    In a 95-0 vote, the U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday to protect the jobs and health insurance of people who learn through genetic testing that they may be susceptible to serious diseases.

    The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which now goes back the House of Representatives, forbids employers from using genetic information in the hiring, firing or promotion of workers and bars health insurance companies from using genetic information to set premiums or determine eligibility, the Associated Press reported.

    "For the first time we act to prevent discrimination before it has taken firm hold and that's why this legislation is unique and groundbreaking," said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), one of the sponsors of the bill.

    She noted there are more than 1,100 genetic tests currently available but they're "absolutely useless" if people don't use them or take part in clinical trials because they're worried about discrimination.

    The bill, which could be approved by the House early next week, is supported by the White House, the AP reported.

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