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Health Highlights: Dec. 19, 2019

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

U.S. Listeria Outbreak Linked to Hard-Boiled Eggs: CDC

The source of a listeria outbreak that’s sickened seven people in five states (Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas) appears to be hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Ga., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Four people have been hospitalized and a death has been reported in Texas. One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected while the mother was pregnant. The newborn survived.

Laboratory evidence and interviews with patients suggest that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods are a likely source of the outbreak. The eggs were packaged in plastic pails and sold under various brand names nationwide to food service operators, including grocery stores and restaurants, according to the CDC.

It said the eggs should not be sold, served or used to make other foods, such as egg salad.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to the outbreak, the CDC said.

Until more information is available, people should throw away any store-bought hard-boiled eggs or products containing hard-boiled eggs, such as egg salad, the agency advised.

People at high risk for listeria infection include pregnant women and their newborns, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or on dialysis.

Listeria infection can cause different symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected. Pregnant women typically have fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, listeria infections during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Symptoms in people other than pregnant women can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches, the CDC said.


Appeals Court Says Obamacare Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional

The Affordable Care Act provision requiring people to have health insurance is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

However, the 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans did not invalidate the rest of the health law, The New York Times reported.

Instead, the appeals court sent the case back to a federal district judge in Texas to “conduct a more searching inquiry” into which parts of the health law could survive without the insurance requirement.

Wednesday’s ruling comes about a year after the entire law was struck down by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth. He ruled that the insurance requirement could not be separated from the rest of the health law because it was “the keystone” of the act, being essential to its regulation of the health insurance market, The Times reported.

With the case being sent back to Judge O’Connor, it’s unlikely to be resolved before next year’s presidential election.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led 21 states that intervened in the case and argued to preserve the health care law, said he’d challenge the appeals court decision by petitioning the Supreme Court to take the case, The Times reported.


Private Care Program for U.S. Vets Gets $8.9 Billion in Budget Deal

A controversial program meant to get more U.S. veterans to use private health care received $8.9 billion as part of a government spending bill approved by the House.

Some veterans groups have warned that “cannibalizing” VA programs to pay for the Veterans Choice program could lead to privatization of VA, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Under the program, veterans have wider access to private care if they’ve faced long wait times or received treatment that wasn’t what they expected.

The bill provides $81 billion for VA care of 9.3 million veterans, including the $8.9 billion for private care. Another $11.3 billion for private care is expected in 2021, the AP reported.


E-Cigarette Influencers to Be Banned From Instagram and Facebook

Social media influencers who market e-cigarette products will be banned from Facebook and Instagram, the companies say.

Instagram said that global enforcement of the new policy will begin “in the coming weeks,” and Instagram owner Facebook said its policy will begin next year, CBS News reported Wednesday.

E-cigarette product advertising is already banned on both platforms.

“With the right policy, Facebook and Instagram are uniquely positioned to cut off Big Tobacco’s easiest access point to kids and young people around the world,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.

“Updates to Facebook and Instagram policies on influencer marketing are desperately needed,” he added.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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