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May 2nd, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Feds speed up E. coli investigation procedures

Each year one in six Americans is sickened by a foodborne illness. Sometimes the culprit is E. coli or other bacteria which contaminate meat or poultry products.  On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced new measures designed to detect contaminated meat and poultry faster and before it enters the human food supply. 

E. coli 0157 is the most common source of foodborne illness and can cause diarrhea, illness and, in severe cases, even death.

“The additional safeguards ... will improve our ability to prevent foodborne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen during a conference call with reporters. “Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers."
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Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says
May 2nd, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says

People who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may significantly lower their risk of developing memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found.

Researchers recruited 1,219 people over age 65, and followed their dietary habits for more than a year.  Then they tested the subjects' blood for a protein called beta-amyloid, a protein is associated with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, plaques and tangles which are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are actually clumps of this substance.

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Controversial flu study released after biosecurity debate
May 2nd, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Controversial flu study released after biosecurity debate

The first of two controversial studies about  a mutated form of the potentially lethal H5N1 bird flu virus was finally published Wednesday after months of debate over whether release of the research could pose a biosecurity threat.

The journal Nature published the study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka. Similar research led by Dutch researcher Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam has yet to be published in its entirety in the journal Science.

Both studies found that with a few genetic alternations, this bird flu virus can be much more easily transmitted. Six months ago the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) asked both journals not to publish essential data because they feared it could be misused and turned into a biological weapon.  Scientists in favor of publication argued that the data was important for flu surveillance and public health preparedness.

"This study has significant public health benefits and contributes to our understanding of this important pathogen,” said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, the author of the Nature study and a flu researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a released statement. “By identifying mutations that facilitate transmission among mammals, those whose job it is to monitor viruses circulating in nature can look for these mutations so measures can be taken to effectively protect human health." FULL POST


U.S. ranks lower than Iraq, Afghanistan on this list
May 2nd, 2012
12:01 PM ET

U.S. ranks lower than Iraq, Afghanistan on this list

There are few places that illustrate the fragility of life better than a neonatal intensive care unit.  Premature babies, hooked up to tubes and monitors, their tiny legs sticking out of the smallest of diapers: it's a sight can bring tears to your eyes and a prayer to your lips.

One in 10 children are born prematurely every year around the world.  That comes to about 15 million babies.

You may think developing countries like Belarus and Libya have more preemies than the United States. Think again.

A new study - the first of its kind - ranks preterm birth rates around the globe. The United States comes in at 131 on the list of 184 countries.
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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