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Health Highlights: Oct. 27, 2015

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

Heart Surgery Device Caused Patient Infections: Hospital

A medical device used during open heart surgery caused infections in at least eight patients and about 1,300 current and former patients are being warned about possible exposure to harmful bacteria during open heart surgeries performed over nearly four years, officials at WellSpan York Hospital in Pennsylvania said Monday.

They said four of the patients who were infected with nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) died, but it is not clear whether the infection was the primary cause, The New York Times reported.

Infection has been identified in less than one percent of patients who had open heart surgery between Oct. 1, 2011 and July 24, 2015, according to hospital officials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received 32 reports of bacterial contamination or patient infections associated with heater-cooler devices, which are used to heat and cool a patient's blood during heart surgery, The Times reported.

Twenty-five of those cases were reported this year and eight of the reported patient infections occurred in the U.S, while the rest occurred in Europe. It's not clear if the U.S. patient infections reported to the FDA were at York Hospital.

NTM is found in soil and water and usually not harmful. But in rare cases, the bacteria can infect patients who are seriously ill or have weakened immune systems. The infections can cause fever, weight loss, joint pain, loss of energy and death, The Times reported.

It was known that NTM can cause infections but until this summer, it was never known to infect patients through heater-cooler devices, according to Joseph Perez, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who took part in the investigation at York Hospital.

In June, manufacturer Sorin Group issued a safety notice telling health care facilities with the heater-cooler devices to maintain them with a new set a guidelines, The Times reported.


Feminine Hygiene Product Makers Disclose Ingredients

Two makers of feminine hygiene products have yielded to consumer pressure and agreed to disclose the ingredients used in the products.

Over the last few weeks, Procter & Gamble (Tampax) and Kimberly-Clark (Kotex) began offering online information about the ingredients in their feminine hygiene products, The New York Times reported.

Both companies include tampon ingredients on their packages, but neither lists the ingredients for their pads on the packaging.

P&G now provides more information about the use of synthetic materials, and Kimberly-Clark now lists ingredients used in its tampon applications, The Times reported.

P&G also announced that it will meet with Women's Voices for the Earth. The group protested outside the company's shareholder meeting on Oct. 13 and brought a 35,000-signature petition demanding that P&G reveal feminine care product ingredients and remove certain chemicals.

"We had been trying to get a meeting with the company for a couple of years and they hadn't been responding to our requests," the group's executive director, Erin Switalski, told The Times.

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