HealthCheck

More West Nile cases reported in Pa.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pennsylvania has reported two more human cases of West Nile Virus. One of them is in Lehigh County.

The total for the state is now 7 people infected; 5 of them developed meningitis or encephalitis.

And for the first time in 45 years, Texas will use aerial spraying to fight mosquitoes.

Two planes will cover 49,000 acres around Dallas. The mayor there has declared a state of emergency on West Nile Virus.

At least 336 people in Texas have gotten sick with the virus; 16 have died.

To prevent West Nile, officials say get rid of standing water, use insect repellent and try to avoid spending time outside at dusk and dawn.

In other health news, government health officials are now recommending Hep. C tests.

They say every baby boomer, that's anyone born between 1945 and 1965, should get a one-time blood test for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a virus that destroys the liver.

The number of deaths from it nearly doubled in the past 15 years, and it is estimated 1 in every 33 baby boomers carries the virus, but doesn't know it.

It can be spread through sharing needles during illegal drug use, as well as from tattoos with infected needles.

Some people were also infected from blood transfusions before 1992.

There are treatments that can get rid of the virus, but you need to get tested first. So ask your doctor about the blood test.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working on a new way to fix joint injuries.

Right now, if your tear a ligament or damage the meniscus in your knee, surgeons cut it out, piece it back together, or replace it with one from a cadaver. But in a few years, they could implant an experimental material spun from tiny fibers or nanofibers.

The material attracts healing cells to rebuild the damaged area when it's put into an injury.

The developers say it could avoid years of pain, and possibly the need for joint replacements.

"Any method we can bring to market that could be used to replace that segment of the meniscus would save those patients from moving forward to osteoarthritis at an earlier age," said Dr. Robert Mauck.

The material can be custom-made for the spot it will repair.

It is being tested in large animals now. Trials on people will start in a year or so.

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west nile virus, healthcheck, ali gorman, r.n.
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