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Health Highlights: March 3, 2016

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

Bacterial Bloodstream Infection Outbreak in Wisconsin Linked to 18 Deaths

The source of a bacterial bloodstream infection linked with the deaths of 18 people in Wisconsin is being sought by federal, state and local health officials.

Elizabethkingia bacteria has infected 44 people in the state. Most of them are older than 65 and all have serious underlying health conditions, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Associated Press reported.

All 18 people who died tested positive for the bacteria, but it is not known if they died due to the infection, their pre-existing health problems, or both, state health officer Karen McKeown said.

Infection symptoms include fever, chills, shortness of breath or a bacterial skin infection, health officials said, the AP reported.


Google Pledges $1 Million to Help Fight Zika Virus

A $1 million donation to fight the spread of the Zika virus and an offer to help analyze data to predict the spread of the mosquito-borne disease was announced by Google.

The money will be given to UNICEF to help reduce mosquito populations, develop diagnostic tests and vaccines, and find ways to prevent transmission of the virus, the Associated Press reported.

Google's engineers are helping develop a platform to process data on factors such as weather and travel patterns to help predict potential outbreaks so that governments and agencies know where to target their resources.

Zika -- believed linked to birth defects -- has become an epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean, the AP reported.


Soccer Player Brandi Chastain Will Donate Brain for Concussion Research

Former soccer player Brandi Chastain will donate her brain to researchers studying a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions.

Chastain, 47, scored the winning shootout goal for the U.S. women's team in the 1999 World Cup final against China. She has agreed to donate her brain after death to Boston University scientists trying to learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), The New York Times reported.

The condition is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, and athletes in sports such as football and boxing are believed to be at high risk. But CTE has also been found in several male soccer players, and heading the ball is believed to be the cause in those cases.

While CTE has not been found in any female athletes, it has been found in women with a history of head injuries, The Times reported.

Another member of the U.S. women's national soccer team, Cindy Parlow Cone, previously agreed to donate her brain for CTE research. Both women, and several others from the 1999 team, are against heading in youth soccer.

Late last year, U.S. Soccer announced tighter rules for players younger than 14, but Chastain and others don't think the standards are strict enough, The Times reported.


Scott Kelly 2 Inches Taller After Long Stay in Space

American astronaut Scott Kelly grew two inches while spending nearly a year aboard the International Space Station.

The reason: his spine lengthened because there was no gravity in space to compress it, NBC News reported.

Kelly said he "feels pretty good" and will have his health monitored for the next year as part of an effort to learn more about how long periods in space affect a person's body, mind and spirit.

The assessment will include comparing Scott to his twin brother Mark, a former astronaut who spent the last year on Earth. This will help researchers detect any genetic changes that may have occurred in Scott during his long stay in space, NBC News reported.


Raw Milk Blue Cheese Recalled by Whole Foods Market

Possible listeria contamination has led to a nationwide recall of Maytag Raw Milk Blue Cheese sold at Whole Foods Markets.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly or frail people, and others with weakened immune systems, and miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

The recalled cheese was sold cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap in various weights with labels reading "Maytag Blue Raw Milk," "Maytag Blue" or "Maytag Iowa Blue Cheese," with PLU numbers beginning with with 293308 and "sell-by" dates of 1/20/2016 and 3/21/16.

To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled cheese.

Consumers who bought the product should throw it out and can bring their receipt to a Whole Foods Market store for a full refund. For more information, call the company at 512-477-5566, ext. 20060.


U.S. Bans E-Cigarettes on Commercial Flights

Electronic cigarettes have been banned from commercial flights, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The new rule -- meant to protect passengers from exposure to harmful chemicals -- applies to flights into and out of the U.S., and to domestic and international carriers, the Washington Post reported.

Traditional cigarettes have long been banned on U.S. flights.

The new regulation "is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, the Post reported.

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