Health Highlights: Aug. 5, 2014

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

Injured Alzheimer's Caregivers Can't Sue Patients: Court

Alzheimer's disease patients are not liable for injuries they may inflict on paid in-home caregivers, the California Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision.

The case involved a home health aid who was injured while trying to restrain a client, the Associated Press reported.

In Monday's ruling, the court said people hired to care for Alzheimer's patients should know that agitation and physical aggression are common in the later stages of the disease. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to permit caregivers who are injured by clients to sue their employers.

"It is a settled principle that those hired to manage a hazardous condition may not sue their clients for injuries caused by the very risks they were retained to confront," Justice Carole Corrigan wrote for the majority, the AP reported.


New Labeling Rules for Gluten-Free Products Take Effect

New U.S. labeling regulations for products that claim to be gluten free are a "major milestone," according to an expert.

Under the Food and Drug Administration rules that take effect Tuesday, packaged food labeled as being gluten free cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The use of the gluten-free label is voluntary, and products that contain gluten are not required to declare that on the package.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Consuming just a tiny bit of gluten can cause illness in people with an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease.

"The gluten-free diet for someone with celiac disease is like insulin for diabetics," Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Times.


Patient at NYC Hospital Being Tested For Ebola

A man who had recently been to West Africa arrived at the emergency department of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City Monday morning with symptoms consistent with the Ebola virus, according to media reports.

The patient, whose name has not yet been released, is suffering from a high fever and gastrointestinal illness and is being kept in isolation as staff await test results, the New York Times said.

Hospital spokeswoman Dorie Klissas said that privacy issues preclude the release of any details about the man's occupation, what country he had visited or possible exposures of family and friends. Klissas did not give a timeframe for when the results of the test might become available.

When asked about the risk to hospital staff should the patient test positive for Ebola, Klissas said that, "All necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff."

Other illnesses might explain the patient's symptoms, and experts note that Ebola is only spread by direct contact with body fluids.

Another man was kept in isolation at a New York City area hospital after arriving with a fever on a flight from West Africa. However, the man's fever passed and it is clear he does not have Ebola, Ian Michaels, a spokesman for The New York Health and Hospitals Corp., told the Times.

West Africa has been struggling over the past few months with the worst outbreak ever of the highly fatal Ebola virus, with the World Heath Organization saying the death toll is now estimated at 887.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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