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Health Highlights: Jan. 21, 2016

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

Cough Syrup with Morphine Recalled

Licorice cough syrup distributed by Master Herbs, Inc. is being recalled because it contains morphine.

The presence of morphine -- a powerful narcotic painkiller -- is not declared on the label of the Licorice Coughing Liquid. Accidental morphine consumption can cause severe allergic reactions, breathing problems and death.

To date, no one has suffered harm from the product, according to the California-based company.

It is recalling all lots of the cough syrup in 100 ml bottles, which were distributed to Chinese grocery stores in various cities in California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio and Nevada.

Consumers with the product should stop using it and return it to the place of purchase. For more information send an email to


California Child Vaccination Rates Increase

Childhood vaccination rates in California rose in nearly every county last fall, a new report says.

For the 2015-16 school year, 92.9 percent of kindergarten students were up-to-date on their shots, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous term, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The rate of vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella rose from 92.55 percent from 2014-15 to 94.59 percent this year, National Public Radio reported.

A law repealing parents' ability to easily refuse vaccines on behalf of their children takes effect in California in July, but there has already been a decrease in the number of parents citing personal belief exemptions, from 2.54 percent of kindergartners in 2014 to 2.38 percent this year.

Last year, there was a major measles outbreak linked to Disneyland.

"I can only assume that this (increase in vaccinations) is in part a response to ... the measles outbreak and the publicity that that received," Dr. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, told NPR.

"It's unfortunate that fear or outbreaks of disease are necessary to get people to do what we'd like them to do, but I think that's human nature," he added.

Other possible reasons include stricter school vaccination requirements and public health campaigns, NPR reported.


Drug Makers, Governments Sign Deal to Fight Drug-Resistant Infections

A groundbreaking agreement between the drug industry and governments to work together to fight drug-resistant "superbugs" is expected to be announced Thursday.

Under the deal, 74 drug makers, 11 diagnostic test makers, and nine industry groups pledge to work with each other and 16 countries to prevent and improve treatment of drug-resistant infections, the Associated Press reported.

These infections are a serious threat to millions of people worldwide and a number of factors contribute to the problem, including overuse of antibiotics, declining drug industry research, and few new medicines to combat bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.

The new deal -- scheduled to be announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- is the first to outline how the drug industry and governments should team up to prevent more drugs from becoming ineffective, to spur development of new medicines, and to provide the drugs to all people who need them, regardless of location or income, the AP reported.

Specific steps outlined in the agreement include: increasing access to antibiotics in countries worldwide; better education of doctors and nurses about appropriate antibiotic use; improved infection control through vaccination, preventive treatments and better hygiene; reduced use of antibiotics in livestock, and increased collaboration between drug company, university and government researchers.

"Antimicrobials are the backbone of modern medicine, and have played a key role in increasing life expectancy globally," Dr. Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson's chief scientific officer, said in a statement, the AP reported.

"For the world to continue to have new antibiotics, we need investments in basic science and novel incentive models for industry R&D, and to protect our existing treatments, we need new frameworks for appropriate use," he explained.

Other companies included in the agreement are GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc. -- which make antimicrobial drugs and vaccines -- and Roche Group and Alere Inc., which make tests used to diagnose specific types of infections, the AP reported.


Sierra Leone Reports Another Ebola Case

A second case of Ebola has been confirmed in Sierra Leone after the outbreak in West Africa was declared over.

The new patient is a close relative of a 22-year-old woman who died of Ebola in mid-January and helped prepare her body for burial, according to Health Ministry spokesman Sidi Yaya Tunis, the Associated Press reported.

About 150 people who had contact with the dead woman have been under monitoring, and the newly-diagnosed patient was under quarantine.

Before the 22-year-old woman died, there had not been any known Ebola cases in Sierra Leone for two months, the AP reported.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people. When the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over, it warned that additional "flare-ups" of new cases might still occur.

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