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Latest News: Soccer-Former QPR defender Carlisle fighting for life - report

Dec 22 (Reuters) - Former Queens Park Rangers defender and former Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle is fighting for his life in hospital following a serious road accident, the Mail Online reported on Monday.

The Newspaper's online site reported the 35-year-old had been struck by a lorry early on Monday morning and was airlifted to hospital.

Carlisle made more than 500 appearances for nine clubs, including Leeds United, Burnley and Blackpool, and had been working as a television pundit since retiring last year. (Writing by Justin Palmer; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Latest News: Pet reptiles pose health risk for infants: study

Owning exotic reptiles such as snakes, chameleons, iguanas and geckos could place infants at risk of salmonella infection, according to a British study published on Monday.

Researchers in the southwestern English county of Cornwall found that out of 175 cases of salmonella in children under five over a three-year period, 27 percent occurred in homes which had reptile pets.

Salmonella is a germ that, in humans, can cause gastroenteritis, colitis, blood infections and meningitis.

Reptiles, though, are unaffected by the bug, which colonises their gut and is passed on in their stools.

If the pet is allowed to run free in the home, this poses a risk, especially if the child is at an exploratory stage of crawling or licking surfaces.

The average age of children who fell ill with "reptile-associated salmonellosis" (RAS) was just six months, said the study, led by Dan Murphy of the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

"RAS is associated with a severe outcome -- hospitalisation and disease," it said.

"Coupled with evidence of increasing ownership of indoor reptile pets, the incidence of RAS hospitalisation is likely to increase. Health professionals such as general practitioners and paediatricians need to be aware of this risk."

The investigation is published in a specialised British journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood.

A US study in 2004 estimated that RAS was behind 21 percent of all of laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella among people aged under 21.

Latest News: Consumer group sues Aetna, alleges discrimination

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A consumer advocacy group has filed a class-action lawsuit against Aetna Inc. saying a new policy violates the privacy of people with HIV and AIDS by requiring them to get their medications from its mail-order pharmacy.

Consumer Watchdog filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in San Diego. It says sending the drugs through the mail puts privacy at risk because packages could end up at the wrong address or be seen by others. It also says the mail is not a reliable way to ensure people get their medications on time.

The group alleges the policy also violates the federal health care law because it discourages people with HIV and AIDS from signing up for the company's insurance.

Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said the policy is part of its ongoing strategy to keep health plans affordable and help with medication adherence. People can also opt out, she said.

"To opt out, members only have to call the number on their ID card," she said in an email to The Associated Press. "Requests will be processed the same day."

The plaintiff is a San Diego man who is anonymous in court documents. If he opts out under the policy, he would face exorbitant costs since his local pharmacy would be considered out of network, said Consumer Watchdog attorney Jerry Flanagan.

The plaintiff fought with the company for more than a month to be allowed to continue going to his local pharmacy at no extra cost, Flanagan said. He added that the policy violates the Affordable Care Act to end discrimination against patients based on their health condition.

"Requiring health plans to offer coverage for patients with a preexisting condition means little if the insurer can charge these patients exorbitant co-insurance or only cover care through inconvenient and ineffective mail-order requirements that put the patients' health and privacy at risk," he said.

In May, two health organizations filed a similar complaint with federal health officials alleging some Florida insurance companies were violating the Affordable Care Act by structuring their insurance plans in a way that discourage consumers with HIV and AIDS from choosing those plans because they wouldn't be able to afford the high co-insurance rates.

Health insurance company Cigna later agreed to change its prescription drug policy.

Consumer Watchdog in the past has filed similar lawsuits against two other insurers, United Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross of California. Both cases were settled and Flanagan said members can opt out of the mail-order requirement.

Latest News: Kansas says new virus found after resident's death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new virus thought to be carried by ticks or other insects has been discovered following the death of a southeast Kansas resident during the summer, public health officials said Monday.

The new virus is called Bourbon virus, after Bourbon County, home of the patient who died. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the patient's symptoms, including fever and fatigue, were similar to symptoms from other tick-borne diseases.

The Kansas health department said testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the patient had a virus not previously identified. Health department spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said it's still not clear how much the Bourbon virus contributed to the patient's death.

"This was the first known instance and the only confirmed case," Rosenow said. "This is a new virus, and we are still learning."

The health department declined to identify the victim of the virus or provide details about the case, saying it was protecting the privacy of the patient and family members.

The department said there's no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease from the Bourbon virus but described the risk as "minimal" during the winter, given health officials' belief that it is transmitted through tick or insect bites.

The health agency also suggested the same precautions outdoors for avoiding other tick- and insect-borne illnesses. Those include using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and avoiding wooded and busy areas with high grass or leaf litter.



Kansas Department of Health and Environment:


Follow John Hanna on Twitter at .

Latest News: Joe Cocker, raspy-voiced singer, dies at 70

By Eric Kelsey

(Reuters) - Joe Cocker, whose distinctive raspy voice and soulful musical renditions made him a favourite of his peers with hits like Beatles' cover "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "You Are So Beautiful," died on Monday. He was 70.

The British rock singer, famous for flailing his arms during performances, lost a long battle with lung cancer, said his label, Sony Music Entertainment, in a statement.

The Sheffield-born Cocker's rocky but ultimately successful career took him from working-class pubs in Northern England to the Woodstock festival in 1969, to the top of the charts in the 1980s.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney credited Cocker for giving "With a Little Help from My Friends," a mid-tempo melody, a whole new life.

"It was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful to him for doing that," McCartney said in a statement, calling the fellow Englishman a "lovely northern lad."

His explosive, at times unintelligible performance of that song at Woodstock helped him break through to larger audiences in what Rolling Stone magazine called "one of the most iconic sets from the legendary festival."

Cocker lived in Crawford, Colorado, and released nearly 40 albums as he toured the world during a career spanning five decades.

The Grammy winner was born into a working-class family and worked as a plumber while pursuing his singing career.

He was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace in 2011.

"Goodbye and God Bless to Joe Cocker from one of his friends peace and love. R.," tweeted Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

In the early 1970s Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour and live album cemented his success. In 1974, "You Are So Beautiful," co-written with Billy Preston, was a big hit. It was voted the fourth-most popular love song in a U.S. online poll in 2013.

In a memorable sketch in 1976, Cocker joined John Belushi as he parodied the singer's spasmodic style on the popular late-night comedy show "Saturday Night Live."

Cocker's career path was punctuated by struggles with alcohol and drugs.

In 1982, his career took off again with "Up Where We Belong," a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the film "An Officer and A Gentleman." The song earned Cocker his only Grammy and an Oscar for its writers.

His last studio album "Fire It Up" came out in 2012.

Cocker is survived by wife Pam, brother Victor, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren. He and his wife set up the Cocker Kids' Foundation to support local Colorado youth.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Mary Milliken)

Latest News: Ebola vaccine 'promising in Africa'
Staff in personal protective equipment to shield against Ebola The virus is spread through close contact with infected bodily fluids

The first-ever trial of an Ebola vaccine in Africa shows promising initial results, according to a report in the Lancet medical journal.

Scientists say it is a crucial step as other vaccines have shown lower levels of protection in African populations.

Tests involving Ugandan and American volunteers reveal the vaccine is so far safe and generates an immune response in both populations.

It provides reassurance for other trials currently underway, they say.

The Ebola virus has killed more than 6,900 people in the worst-affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

No proven vaccine exists to prevent people from getting the disease, though several trials are underway.

The aim of a successful vaccine is to train the immune systems of healthy people to produce antibodies - proteins capable of fighting off any future infections.

Viral protection

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health tested this experimental vaccine on healthy adults in Uganda, having first trialled it in the United States.

Dr Julie Ledgerwood, the lead researcher, said: "This is the first study to show comparable safety and immune response of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population.

"This is particularly encouraging because those at greatest risk of Ebola live primarily in Africa and diminished vaccine protection in African populations has been seen for other diseases."

According to the study some 57% of people in Uganda who received the Ebola vaccine alone developed antibodies against Ebola in their blood.

Dr Sridhar of the University of Oxford, commenting on the research, said the data provided reassurance about separate Ebola virus vaccines trials currently underway in Mali, the US and the UK.

But further tests would be needed to see if the antibodies are strong enough and long-lasting enough to provide adequate protection against the disease.

Latest News: E-readers 'damage sleep and health'
Reading under the sheets

Related Stories

If you curl up under the duvet with an ebook for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health, US doctors have warned.

A team from Harvard Medical School compared reading paper books and light-emitting e-readers before sleep.

They found it took longer to nod off with an e-reader, which led to poorer quality sleep and being more tired the next morning.

Experts said people should minimise light-exposure in the evening.

Whether you are perusing the Man Booker shortlist or leafing through Zoella, the impact of reading on your sleep is probably the last thing on your mind.

But there has been growing concern about the dangers of light before bedtime.

Body clock

Our bodies are kept in tune with the rhythm of day and night by an internal body clock, which uses light to tell the time.

But blue light, the wavelength common in smartphones, tablets and LED lighting, is able to disrupt the body clock.

Blue light in the evening can slow or prevent the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Book vs ereader

Twelve people were locked in a sleep laboratory for two weeks.

They spent five days reading from a paperback and five days from an iPad.

Regular blood samples showed the production of the sleep hormone melatonin was reduced by reading an ebook.

People also took longer to fall asleep, had less deep sleep and were more tired the next morning.

The researchers said other e-readers such as the Nook and Kindle Fire produced similar wavelengths of light and would have the same impact.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Lead researcher Prof Charles Czeisler told the BBC News website: "The light emitted by most e-readers is shining directly into the eyes of the reader, whereas from a printed book or the original Kindle, the reader is only exposed to reflected light from the pages of the book."

He said disrupting sleep in turn affected health.

"Sleep deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and cancer.

"Thus, the melatonin suppression that we saw in this study among participants when they were reading from the light-emitting e-reader concerns us."

Sleep hygiene

Dr Victoria Revell, who researches the impact of light on the body at the University of Surrey, told the BBC: "This is a very good study and I think it's really interesting.

"We should be advising people to minimise their [light-emitting e-reader] use in the evening, particularly teenagers who are a group that are using their phones and tablets late in to the evening."

Teenagers naturally have a late body clock, which makes them slow to rise in the morning and up late at night.

"People who already have a delayed body clock are delaying themselves much further and that is a very important message," Dr Revell added.

Prof Czeisler agreed, saying there was "special concern" for teenagers who were already sleep deficient by being forced to get up early for school.

Latest News: Tackle loneliness to 'shield' A&E
Elderly woman

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NHS leaders are urging people to look in on elderly friends and neighbours over the Christmas period to ease pressures on hospital A&E departments.

They warn loneliness and isolation can increase the risk of emergency hospital admissions.

They say people are more likely to report health problems in good time if they have someone to talk to .

The Patients Association says the service could be heading for a "crunch weekend".

Hospitals and ambulance services are already coming under enormous pressure this winter.

Figures released on Friday showed in England there were more than 440,000 visits to A&E the previous week - a rise of 6% on the same period last year.

Emergency admissions reached record levels, rising to more than 111,000.

Start Quote

We often see a sharp spike in emergency admissions at this time of year and we know that the majority of these are elderly people who have stored up a health problem at home and haven't sought treatment early hoping it will 'go away'”

End Quote Prof Keith Willett NHS England
'Spike' in admissions

NHS leaders say they want to keep people out of busy A&E departments "as far as possible".

They are worried that over the festive period the impact of loneliness and social isolation could cause a major "spike" in admissions.

Prof Keith Willett, NHS England's national clinical director for acute care, cited a recent study in south west England in which 45% of elderly patients admitted as an emergency said they were socially isolated.

"We are calling on the public to think about those people living nearby who might benefit from a visit.

"If they see other people they are more likely to mention a health problem and then are more likely to seek help early."

And - with GP surgeries closed for some of the festive period - Prof Willett reminded people to order medicines in good time so they do not run out.

Lifesaving services

It is a similar message across the UK for the festive period.

In Scotland, Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for health, wellbeing and sport, said people should think through their options.

"We are encouraging people to make themselves aware of the services available to them over the festive period and think about where best to turn if their condition is not life-threatening.

"NHS 24, the local pharmacy, the GP surgery or minor injuries unit may be the better place to go rather than a busy A&E unit, keeping emergency lifesaving services free for those who really need them."

The chairman of the Patients Association, Dr Mike Smith, said there was a risk people could "completely swamp" A&E departments because of a lack of faith in out of hours services.

"We need a new way of providing 24/7 community services, it's going to have to evolve, the current situation is very difficult for people to cope with."

Speaking for the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said services were in place to help people without them having to turn straightaway to their nearest hospital emergency department.

"There is a service available through the bank holiday period. People can get to see a GP if they need to through NHS 111.

"Knowing that, there is no need to feel they have to rush to A&E."

Latest News: Do heart patients fare better when doctors away?

CHICAGO (AP) — Doctors joke that if you're going to have a heart attack, the safest place would be at a big national gathering of heart specialists. But a new study suggests some older hospitalized heart patients may fare better when these doctors aren't around.

Survival chances were better for cardiac arrest patients and for the sickest heart failure patients if they were treated at teaching hospitals during the two biggest national cardiology meetings, compared with those treated during weeks before and after the meetings. Also, some of the sickest heart attack patients got fewer invasive procedures during meeting days, versus those treated at other times — but that didn't hurt their odds of surviving, the nine-year study found.

The findings were only at teaching hospitals, typically affiliated with medical schools and involved in doctor training and sometimes research; these are the workplaces for many doctors who attend major medical meetings. No differences were seen in death rates at non-teaching hospitals.

The evidence is only circumstantial and the study lacks information on whether the patients' own doctors actually attended the meetings.

"The solution is not to get the cardiologists to have meetings every week," said Dr. Anupam Jena, a Harvard Medical School economist and internist and the study's lead author. Identifying specific treatments that were given or not given during meeting times would be a better solution that might lead to better outcomes, Jena said.

It might be that doctors who don't attend the meetings are less inclined to try the most invasive treatments, and that a less intensive approach is better for the sickest patients, Jena said.

The study was published online Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The research is provocative and might help doctors figure out how to lower patients' death rates throughout the year, said Dr. Rita Redberg, the journal's editor.

Redberg is a cardiologist at a teaching hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. She usually attends the national American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association meetings, but said she does not think her absences have affected patient outcomes.

"I'm from a big academic institution so there's always coverage while I'm gone," Redberg said.

The authors analyzed 30-day death rates for Medicare patients hospitalized during the annual meetings in the spring and fall, which typically draw thousands of doctors. Data included nearly 3,000 patients at teaching hospitals during meeting days from 2002 through 2011. The comparison group was about 18,000 patients hospitalized on the same days during the three weeks before and three weeks after the meetings.

The 30-day death rates for meeting-day versus non-meeting days patients were:

—60 percent versus 70 percent for cardiac arrests.

—18 percent versus 25 percent for the sickest heart failure patients.

— No difference for the sickest heart attack patients: about 39 percent for both groups.

Among the heart attack patients, the meeting-days group had fewer heart stent procedures to open blocked arteries. The researchers found no difference in rates for a few invasive procedures for cardiac arrest and high-risk heart failure patients, but said there may have been differences in other treatments not included in the study that might explain the results.

Dr. Patrick O'Gara, president of the American College of Cardiology, said the study's observational design makes it impossible to know if the national meetings had any effect on patients' survival. He also noted that the number of heart doctors who attend the national meetings is a fraction of the nearly 30,000 cardiologists nationwide.

The American Heart Association echoed those comments in a statement and said the group does not recommend any changes in treatment based on the study.




American Heart Association:

American College of Cardiology:


AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at

Latest News: Soul singer Joe Cocker dies at 70

(Reuters) - Joe Cocker, the raspy-voiced, Grammy-winning singer best known for his cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "You Are So Beautiful," died on Monday, his agent said. He was 70.

The death was confirmed by Marshall Arts, the company of Cocker's agent, Barrie Marshall, in England.

The rock singer, known for flailing his arms on stage during performances, lost a long battle with lung cancer, his record label, Sony Music, said in a statement.

"His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe," his label added.

Cocker, a native of Britain, lived in Crawford, Colorado.

Musicians and fans took to Twitter to express their grief at the death of the rocker, who was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace for his contribution to music.

"Goodbye and God Bless to Joe Cocker from one of his friends peace and love. R.," tweeted former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

"We loved you forever. We will miss you always ... RIP Joe Cocker," rocker Steven Tyler tweeted.

Singer Bryan Adams described Cocker are a good friend and one of the best rock singers ever.

Cocker was born in Sheffield, England, into a working-class family. He worked as a plumber while pursuing a singing career, covering Motown songs in pubs in northern England in the 1960s.

He became known as a white soul singer and for his unique stage presence, twisting his body and face into contortions as he sang with his signature husky delivery.

The late actor John Belushi famously parodied Cocker’s spasmodic style on late-night comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live.” Cocker and Belushi appeared together on the show, with both performing in the rocker's style.Cocker played at the legendary Woodstock music festival in 1969, where he made his name with his performance of "With a Little Help from My Friends."

In the early 1970s "The Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour and live album cemented his success. He had a big hit in 1974 with "You Are So Beautiful," co-written with Billy Preston.

But he also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.

His career revived in 1982 when he sang "Up Where We Belong" in a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the film "An Officer and A Gentleman." The song earned Cocker his only Grammy, as well as an Oscar for its writers.

His many studio albums included "Fire It Up," his last, in 2012.

Cocker is survived by his wife Pam, his brother Victor, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren. Along with his wife, Cocker set up the Cocker Kids' Foundation to support local youth.

(Reporting by Mary Milliken, Eric Kelsey and Patricia Reaney; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Latest News: Ebola-infected Italian doctor 'recovering'

An Italian doctor who contracted Ebola in west Africa is recovering but is still in an isolation unit, the specialist clinic in Rome treating him said Monday.

The Spallanzani institute said on Twitter that the 50-year-old medic -- who has not been named -- was in a "good condition" and was "recovering in isolation".

The father of two was repatriated in November from Sierra Leone with a fever and given an experimental drug to try to combat the often-deadly virus.

The doctor -- who became the first Italian to be infected with Ebola while volunteering for an Italian medical charity fighting the epidemic -- can now breathe, walk and eat unassisted.

Ebola, a disease transmitted through the bodily fluids of infected people, can result in death from uncontrollable bleeding and organ failure.

The current Ebola epidemic in west Africa -- the worst ever recorded -- has so far killed around 7,350 people.

Latest News: Germany introduces bird flu test for ducks, geese

Germany said it would start testing ducks and geese for bird flu prior to slaughter, after two cases of the highly infectious H5N8 strain were detected in a week.

The emergency procedure, which will take effect Tuesday, requires all duck and geese farmers across Germany to have their animals tested for bird flu before being transported, the agriculture ministry said.

"The animals can only be transported and slaughtered in the case of a negative test result," the ministry said in a written statement.

It said the test must be carried out no more than seven days before transport.

Unlike turkeys and chickens, ducks and geese display no symptoms when they are infected with H5N8.

This creates a risk that infected animals are taken for slaughter, spreading the infection via contact with the vehicle or people.

"This measure is for the protection of our animal populations," Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said in the statement.

The measure, which comes into force at midnight, applies across Germany until the end of March.

In the last week, two cases of bird flu have been found at different farms in Lower Saxony state.

"There was no contact between the two farms," the ministry said, adding that experts assumed that migratory birds had likely spread the virus.

Some strains of avian influenza are fatal for birds, and pose a health threat to humans, who can fall sick after handling infected poultry.

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