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Health Highlights: Sept. 30, 2016

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

Pregnant Women Should Delay Travel to 11 Southeast Asian Countries: CDC

Pregnant women should consider delaying nonessential travel to 11 Southeast Asian countries where the Zika virus is circulating, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.

The countries covered by the advisory include Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, The New York Times reported.

On Aug. 30, the CDC warned pregnant women to avoid travel to Singapore due to a fast-growing Zika outbreak.

It's likely that Zika has circulated in Asia since at least the 1960s, according to scientists. But the frequency of outbreaks is unclear because health agencies in Asia only recently started testing for Zika, The Times reported.

In January, the CDC told pregnant women to avoid Latin American and Caribbean countries hit hard by Zika, which has been linked to serious birth defects.


Blood Center Abandoned Research Chimps: Critics

A U.S. blood center is being criticized for abandoning chimps used in research.

The nonprofit New York Blood Center ran a lab in Liberia that used the chimps in experiments to find ways to improve human health. The center ended its research in Liberia in 2005 and retired the chimps to uninhabited mangrove islands in a river, the Washington Post reported.

Until 2015, the center supplied the chimps with food and clean water, which aren't available on the islands. But the center then halted its funding and said the 63 remaining chimps were now the responsibility of the Liberian government.

But the chimps are being cared for by a Humane Society of the United States-led coalition that spends $30,000 a month to pay a staff of 30 and buy 500 pounds of food a day for the chimps. The coalition also funds birth control for female chimps in order to keep the population in check, the Post reported.

Despite critics who say the blood center abandoned the chimps, the charity says it cannot divert "millions of dollars away from our lifesaving mission" so that it cares for the chimpanzees.

The Humane Society said this week it will partner with former New Mexico governor and longtime animal advocate Bill Richardson on the issue. Richardson's foundation will donate $35,000 to help build a chimp sanctuary on the islands and he will join the effort to "hold the New York Blood Center accountable for abandoning these chimps," the Post reported.

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