Brazil Confirms More Yellow Fever Cases; Over 100 Infected

Authorities in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state say three more people have died from yellow fever, adding to an outbreak that has seen more than 100 cases.

The vast majority of cases are in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, where authorities had confirmed 97 cases as of Friday. Of those, 40 died.

The Health Department of Sao Paulo on Monday said it has now confirmed six cases of the disease, four of whom became infected in Minas Gerais. All of the patients died. The state of Espirito Santo has also recorded one case.

Much of Brazil is considered at risk for yellow fever, but the country has not seen this large an outbreak since 2000. The World Health Organization has said it expects the mosquito-borne to spread to more states.

Brazil Investigating Dozens Of Suspected Yellow Fever Cases

Brazilian authorities say they’ve now confirmed 47 cases of yellow fever, and 25 deaths. The Health Ministry also says it’s investigating more than 160 other suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

The outbreak is centered in the east-central state of Minas Gerais, whose governor declared a 180-state of emergency this month after an initial report of eight deaths.

The government says it’s sent 2 million extra doses of vaccine against the disease to Minas Gerais. And it says hundreds of thousands of other doses will be sent there and to nearby Espirito Santo this week.

Last year, Brazil registered just seven confirmed yellow fever cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the disease can cause fever, chills, severe headache, pain, nausea and vomiting.

5 Dental Myths That May Be Hurting Your Health

Research shows that your teeth can speak volumes about your overall health, so it’s important to be informed when it comes to taking care of your mouth.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor for FoxNews.com, recently sat down with Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry in New York City to debunk some common dental myths that could be hurting your health.

Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay.

We’ve all heard it growing up:  Sugar will rot your teeth. But while sugar can lead to cavity formation – as well as a variety of other health maladies – it’s not the real culprit when it comes to tooth decay.

“This is a myth in a sense because sugar, while being ‘the gasoline in the tank’ is not the cause of tooth decay. It’s actually acids from bacteria that have gone to the dark side,” Curatola told FoxNews.com. “We talk about good bugs and bad bugs; bad bugs are actually an unhealthy expression of natural bacteria in the mouth.”

“Bad bugs” are formed when you digest carbohydrates. Refined sugar is an example, but other carbohydrates can include healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and grains. These “bad bugs” produce acid in your mouth that, when combined with saliva, result in plaque formation.

Teeth whitening will damage your enamel.

The key ingredients in over-the-counter whitening products are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which work as oxidizing agents to remove stains on the surface of the enamel. White strips, trays and pastes meant for at-home use usually contain about 3 to 10 percent of these active ingredients and are generally considered safe. Curatola noted as with everything, moderation is important.

“Really, the safest teeth whitening is done under the supervision of a dentist or a dental hygienist in a dental office … There’s a lot of over-the-counter products that can damage your enamel,” said Curatola. “If the product is too acidic, the product is too strong …  Overuse or misuse of these products can cause the enamel to get fragile and even more porous. These are the kinds of things that really need more regulation, and they can be damaging, but teeth whitening by itself is a safe treatment.”

One of the most common side effects of whitening your teeth, whether done in a dentist’s office or at home, is tooth sensitivity. Research out of Ohio State University College of Dentistry has shown that some enamel loss is possible when using bleaching agents, but sometimes, enamel has been found to remineralize itself over time.

Silver fillings don’t need to be replaced.

One of the most hotly debated issues among dentists these days is whether or not old, silver amalgam fillings in the mouths of so many Americans are safe.

“A lot of patients are not even informed that silver-colored fillings are actually 52 percent mercury,” said Curatola. “There’s also research – and it’s proven that mercury leeches out over time from these silver fillings – more if you drink hot liquids and chew things. My opinion is that I don’t think any amount of mercury is good, and especially if [these fillings are] breaking down, they should be replaced.”

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that at certain levels has been linked to autoimmune diseases, neurological issues, chronic diseases and even mental disorders.  One concern among dental professionals is that people with amalgam fillings who grind their teeth, chew gum and drink hot or carbonated drinks could be exposed to a dangerous level of mercury vapors.

Mouthwash with alcohol is good to use.

The use of mouthwash containing alcohol has been linked with oral cancer since the 1970s. But more recent research has questioned the association, citing that many study participants who frequently use alcohol-containing mouthwash were drinkers and smokers, making it hard to establish a definitive cause-and-effect outcome. But Curatola warns that frequent use of these mouthwashes can lead to other dental problems.

“Mouthwash should not have alcohol,” said Curatola. “Alcohol is dehydrating and denaturing to this natural ecology of the mouth called the oral microbiome.”

Wisdom teeth serve no purpose.

Wisdom teeth are a product of evolution that got their name from the time that they appear in your mouth – usually between the ages of 17 to 25. It is thought that the coarse food our ancestors ate caused the jaw to grow larger and stronger, allowing for more teeth in our mouths. But over time, our jaws began to shrink to make way for our growing brains, leaving many people with overcrowded mouths and painful impactions when their wisdom teeth break through.

“Wisdom teeth are called vestigial organs, like your tonsils and your appendix,” said Curatola. “I don’t think every child should have their wisdom teeth ripped out, but I do believe that we are finding an intraspecies evolution where wisdom teeth are not having room to erupt, and if they are malpositioned, they can cause problems [like] cysts in the jaw, infections and pain.”

If your wisdom teeth are not causing you any problems, you may want to think about leaving them where they are. Research out of Japan shows that the pulp inside your molars contains stem cells similar to those found in bone marrow. Some experts say that banking those stem cells could lead to the ability to regrow teeth in the future.

French Baby Death Linked To Vitamin Dose

France has acted to suspend the sale of a vitamin D supplement after the death of a newborn baby who suffocated hours after being given it.

The 10-day-old baby had been given a dose of Uvesterol D, widely given to French children under the age of five to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

France’s medical safety agency said there was a “probable link” to that particular supplement.

But officials said there were many other products that could be used.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said children were not in danger by taking vitamin D supplements in general as “it’s the specific way the product is administered that poses risks”. She promised parents “transparent, objective and reliable information.”

In a statement (in French), the national medical safety agency (ANSM) said “only Uvesterol D administered with a pipette is involved”. The product is not sold in the UK.

The baby died at home on 21 December, apparently after being given a dose of the substance orally through a plastic pipette. It showed immediate signs of suffocation before dying two hours later of cardio-respiratory arrest.

News of the baby’s death was not disclosed by France’s health authorities immediately but emerged in French media on Monday.

ANSM said that in 2006 it had imposed measures to reduce risks from taking Uvesterol D after adverse effects became known. However, until December there had been no deaths since it went on the market in 1990, it added.

French daily Le Monde has revealed that Uvesterol D has for years been at the centre of fears over how it has been ingested, with several cases documented of serious illness. The paper cited the oily nature of the substance as being different from other types of liquid vitamin D.

The supplement’s producer Crinex changed the pipette in 2006 to prevent the liquid being administered too quickly.

Then, in 2013, the medical safety agency urged parents to give the supplement drip-by-drip before feeding and ensure the baby was in a semi-sitting position. It also reduced the recommended dosage.

In 2014, health journal Prescire called for an end to the use of Uvesterol vitamin supplements for newborn babies, complaining of half-measures and procrastination from both the company and the medical safety agency.

Zika To Weed: 8 Huge Health Stories From 2016

From the elimination of measles in the U.S. to the advance of potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, 2016 was a jam-packed year for health news.

Zika’s rise and retreat

Although the Zika virus was identified in 1947, it erupted onto the world scene in 2015, and moved into greater global consciousness with lightning speed over the past year.

“Zika is here to stay in the Americas. It’s going to be a part of our lives for years to come,” Glatter told Live Science in February. “We need to look at the time line and get a good idea of what the viruses are that are a threat to the human race, and invest in technologies and spot the trends early to become more proactive and less reactive.”

Advance in Alzheimer’s treatment

An advance in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease hit the stage in 2016: An early study, published in August, found that an investigational drug called aducanumab can significantly reduce the amount of amyloid beta plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This plaque consists of the tangled clumps of proteins that build up over time in the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers concluded that the drug spurs the immune system to work to clear the plaques.

More research is needed to determine whether the drug affects patients’ symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Sandrock said.

Ebola outbreak declared over

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, signifying that the region was largely clear of the disease. The outbreak began in December 2013 and raged during 2014 and 2015, striking hardest in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where more than 28,000 people were infected. More than 11,000 people in the region died from the disease.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s special representative for the Ebola response, noted in a statement in January 2016 that efforts to prevent and track the disease were still underway, and that “we still anticipate flare-ups and must be prepared for them.

Landmark Supreme Court case in women’s health

On June 27 this year the Supreme Court overturned a Texas bill that had stated that doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The majority opinion (decided 5-3) said that such requirements did not offer any medical benefits to women seeking abortions, given that “abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States.”

Patients who undergo the procedure in a clinic rarely require hospital admission, said the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Controversy over the EpiPen

This year, the EpiPen’s skyrocketing price generated controversy. The device allows people to inject epinephrine into their systems to counteract life-threatening allergic reactions. But in 2016, the device’s price had increased by 500 percent since 2009. Mylan, the company that sells EpiPens, agreed in October to pay a whopping $465 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after accusations that it had been overcharging Medicaid for the devices. As part of that settlement, Mylan did not have to admit to any wrongdoing, but worked with the Department of Justice to create a corporate integrity agreement.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives in September that “the misconception about our profits is understandable and at least partly due to the complex environment in which pharmaceutical prices are determined.”

She also detailed Mylan’s plans to offer savings to EpiPen consumers, including offering the first generic version of the EpiPen.

Americans voted on weed in the election

During the 2016 election, Americans in nine states voted on whether to legalize marijuana, for either medical or recreational use, in their states. Now, it’s legal to recreationally use marijuana in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington and the District of Columbia. Plus, 21 other states allow people to use marijuana for medical purposes.

It’s hard to say yet what effect all of the new laws might have, experts said. Dr. Tina Rizack, an oncologist at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, told Live Science in March that as the drug “becomes more available, patients will ask more questions about its therapeutic value, and, hopefully, more research will be done to answer these questions.”

Measles eliminated in the Americas

On Sept. 27, the Pan American Health Organization (part of the United Nations) declared that measles was eliminated from the Americas. Essentially, this means that there are no more cases of measles originating in those countries and that any cases of measles that do arise in those locations come from outside the Americas, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security, told Live Science in September.

“What’s keeping measles at bay right now in the Americas is our high vaccination rate,” Adalja said. The World Health Organization recommended that countries have at least 80 percent of people living in cities and 95 percent of the entire population vaccinated against measles in order to prevent the spread of imported cases.

New male birth control tested, but rejected

A study on a new, experimental type of male birth control that involves hormone shots was halted early because of the high rate of side effects in men who received the shots. The men’s side effects included acne, pain at the injection site, increased sex drive and mood disorders — which garnered attention given their similarity to many side effects of female birth control.

Hip Pain May Be ‘Hangover From Evolution’

Scientists at the University of Oxford say a hangover from evolution could help explain why humans get so much shoulder, hip and knee pain.

And if current trends continue they predict the humans of the future could be at even greater risk.

They studied 300 specimens from different species spanning 400 million years to see how bones changed subtly over millennia.

The changes came as man began standing up straight on two legs.

Other researchers have noticed similar evolutionary quirks in humans. Some people prone to lower back problems, for example, could have spines closer in shape to those of our nearest ape relative – the chimpanzee.

‘Bizarre arrangement’

Dr Paul Monk, who led the research at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, was interested to explore why patients in his clinic came in with similar orthopaedic problems.

“We see certain things very commonly in hospital clinics – pain in the shoulder with reaching overhead, pain in the front of the knee, arthritis of the hip, and in younger people we see some joints that have a tendency to pop out.

“We wondered how on earth we have ended up with this bizarre arrangement of bones and joints that allows people to have these problems.

“And it struck us that the way to answer that is to look backwards through evolution.”

The team took detailed CT scans of 300 ancient specimens housed at the Natural History Museum in London, in Oxford, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Bringing the data together, they were able to create a library of 3D models, and spot changes to the shapes of single bones over millions of years.

As species evolved from moving around on four legs to standing up on two, for example, researchers say the so-called neck of the thigh bone grew broader to support the extra weight.

And studies show that the thicker the neck of the thigh bone, the more likely it is that arthritis will develop.

Scientists say this is one potential reason why humans are susceptible to so much hip pain.

The team then used their data to hazard a guess at the shape of human bones 4,000 years in the future – although they admit there are many uncertainties in future times that could not be accounted for.

Dr Monk said: “What is interesting is if we try and move these trends forward, the shape that is coming has an even broader neck and we are trending to more and more arthritis.”

In the shoulder, scientists found that a natural gap – which tendons and blood vessels normally pass through – got narrower over time.

The narrower space makes it more difficult for tendons to move and might help explain why some people experience pain when they reach overhead, say the scientists.

Using these predictions, the researchers suggest joint replacements of the future will have to be re-designed to accommodate the evolving shapes.

But they say it is not all bad news – the right physiotherapy and working on maintaining a good posture can help mitigate some of the downsides of our design.

Codeine Becomes Prescription-Only Medicine In Australia

Painkillers containing codeine will require a prescription in Australia from 2018 amid concerns over misuse. Under current laws, codeine can be obtained in compound form in over-the-counter painkillers and cough medicines.

But Australia’s drug regulator believes the risk of addiction is too great.

The decision brings Australia into line with most developed countries in requiring a prescription for the opioid-based medication.

The US, most of Europe, Hong Kong and Japan have stopped the sale of over-the-counter codeine products.

Australia’s Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA) said consumers often became addicted to the drug.

“Misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death,” it said in a statement.

The new rules will begin on 1 February 2018.

The TGA recommended patients discuss new treatment plans with their doctors, including whether to use painkilling alternatives such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Children’s Online Junk Food Ads Banned By Industry

Online ads for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar aimed at children are to be banned under new rules from advertisers.

The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) said its restrictions would also apply to all other media where under-16s made up a quarter of the audience.

The rules are an attempt to help tackle obesity when children are spending more time online than ever before.

But critics say the new rules do not go far enough and may not have any impact.

They point to the thousands of children watching TV shows and videos online not specifically targeted at children, which these rules will not cover.

Protecting children

However, the advertisers’ body said the move would lead to “a major reduction” in the number of “junk food” ads seen by children on platforms such as YouTube and children’s games websites.

And it said the new rules would bring non-broadcast media, such as online, social media, cinema and billboard advertising, in line with TV rules introduced in 2007, which restricted the advertising of junk food during children’s TV programmes.

The CAP said the rules were a response to research suggesting children aged five to 15 spent about 15 hours online every week – overtaking time spent watching TV.

Last month, the World Health Organization warned that governments should be protecting children from targeted junk food adverts in apps, social media and video blogs.

While the CAP acknowledged the impact of the rule changes could be small, it said they demonstrated the industry was putting “the protection of children at the heart of its work”.

Recent figures showed a third of children in the UK were overweight or obese by the time they left primary school.

Prof Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the measures would help in the fight against the damaging effects of junk food and fizzy drinks – but more could be done.

“Surely it is time for government to strengthen rules around all advertising, and in particular ban the advertising of foods high in salt, sugar and fat on television before the 21:00 watershed.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said the advertising restrictions were encouraging but the real test would be whether they made any difference to the exposure of high sugar, salt and fat products to children and young people.

The government’s childhood obesity strategy was heavily criticised in the summer for not including measures banning advertising of junk food to children, and campaign groups still want the government to take a stronger stance.

Loopholes concern

Action on Sugar said: “This is industry regulating itself, but we need to know if advertisers are complying with the rules.

“There is a need for an independent monitor.”

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said there were still too many loopholes.

He said: “Just as many of the TV programmes most watched by children aren’t covered by the rules, so it looks like many of the most popular social media sites won’t be either; neither will billboards near schools, or product packaging itself.”

And he said it was not clear what ads would be banned under the new rules, if children had to make up 25% of the audience.

He added: “Ultimately, the new rules are only as good as the body which enforces them.”

The Advertising Standards Authority, which regulates all media in the UK, has said it will administer the new rules.

The rules will come into effect on 1 July 2017.