Health Highlights: Aug. 5, 2014

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

WHO Weighs Declaration of International Emergency in Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it may soon declare an international public health emergency in response to the growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Such a rarely used declaration would give health officials greater powers, including the use of quarantines, in affected areas, according to the New York Times.

WHO released new death estimates on Wednesday, reporting that 932 have died so far in the outbreak. The decision on whether to declare an international public health emergency is expected Friday, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, medical ethicists will meet next week to discuss who should have access to the limited supplies of an experimental medicine for the deadly Ebola virus, WHO said.

The drug was given to and benefited two American aid workers who contracted the disease in West Africa. It was the first time the drug was tried on people, NBC News reported.

The maker of the drug has said it can't produce large amounts of the experimental medicine, which means only a limited number of patients will be able to receive it. There is no certified vaccine or cure for Ebola.

"We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak," WHO official Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny said in a statement, NBC News reported. "We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is."

Also on Wednesday, the Times reported that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that a patient at a New York City hospital who had recently traveled to West Africa and reported symptoms similar to those of the Ebola has tested negative for the disease.

The patient had been kept in isolation at Mount Sinai hospital after arriving there with chills and a fever on Monday morning.


First Ebola Death Reported in Nigeria

Nigeria has reported its first known death linked to the Ebola outbreak afflicting Africa.

The victim was a nurse in Lagos who took care of Liberian government worker Patrick Sawyer, who became sick from Ebola virus infection after he arrived on a flight to Lagos. Sawyer died on July 25, Bloomberg News reported.

Five other people with Ebola are being treated in Lagos, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said in a statement given to reporters Wednesday.

Nigeria may try to obtain the experimental Ebola treatment given to two Americans who were infected with the disease in Liberia, Lagos Health Commissioner Jide Idris said Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.

So far, 932 people have died in the Ebola outbreak affecting a number of African nations. Most of the cases are in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria does not share a border with any of those three nations.


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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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