Health Highlights: Aug. 14, 2014

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

U.S. Committed to Fighting Ebola Outbreak: Obama

The United States is committed to helping contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Barack Obama told the leaders of Liberia and Sierra Leone on Thursday.

In his phone call with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, Obama talked about the work being done by the U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team based in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, USA Today reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has teams in both countries.

Obama also expressed his condolences for the victims of the outbreak, and told the two leaders that he understood their reasons for not taking part in this month's Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., USA Today reported.

As of Thursday, there have been 1,975 Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. The death toll since the outbreak began in March is 1,069.


Second Pneumonia Vaccine Recommended for Seniors

A second vaccine to protect seniors against pneumonia has been recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The panel decided Wednesday that people 65 and older should get Pfizer's Prevnar-13 vaccine, as well as an older pneumonia vaccine. Prevnar-13 is already recommended for infants and people with certain health conditions, the Associated Press reported.

A recent study found that Prevnar-13 was better than the older vaccine at preventing pneumonia in seniors. The two vaccines target different types of bacteria that cause pneumonia.

Health officials believe the new vaccine could prevent 5,000 cases of pneumonia a year in the U.S., the AP reported.


Ebola Claims Life of Another Leading Doctor in Sierra Leone

Another top doctor in Sierra Leone has died from Ebola.

Health ministry officials said Dr. Modupeh Cole, 56, died Wednesday at an Ebola treatment center operated by Doctors Without Borders in the northeastern part of the country. It's believed he was infected while caring for a patient at a hospital in the capital city of Freetown, The New York Times reported.

His death comes two weeks after the death from Ebola of Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, a virologist who was heading the battle against the disease in the eastern region of Sierra Leone.

Cole "was a highly qualified physician, and we have very few of them on hand," Dr. Amara Jambai, director of prevention and control at the health ministry, told The Times.

"You can imagine what this does to the younger cohort. It's like having a general falling in battle. It just brings more misery. It's not good. When you have a health system that's constrained, it's a bit too much," Jambai said.

To date, the Ebola outbreak has killed 1,013 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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