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Health Highlights: Feb. 9, 2012

Last Updated: February 09, 2012.

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

Dozens Ill in N.J. University Outbreak

Norovirus is the suspected cause of an outbreak at Rider University in New Jersey that's resulted in about 40 students being taken to hospitals.

The university said the students from the school's Lawrenceville campus were taken to hospitals late Wednesday night. As of Thursday, some of the students had been discharged and returned to campus, CNN reported.

A similar outbreak began a week ago at nearby Princeton University and is still underway.

"We are coordinating treatment information with that university. We have also informed neighboring institutions," Rider said on its website, CNN reported.

Norovirus causes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.


New Rules Require Health Insurers to Use Plain Language

Private health insurers must use plain language in describing health plan benefits and coverage, according to final health reform law regulations published today by the federal government.

Technical or confusing language will have to be eliminated from marketing materials. The new rules will make it easier for people to understand exactly what they are buying and to directly compare one plan to another, officials said.

The new forms will be available beginning, or soon after, Sept. 23 for the approximately 150 million Americans with private health insurance.

"Consumers, for the first time, will really be able to clearly comprehend the sometimes confusing language insurance plans often use in marketing," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an HHS news release. "This will give them a new edge in deciding which plan will best suit their needs and those of their families or employees."


Americans Need to Reduce Salt Intake: CDC

Americans eat too much salt and it's a serious public health issue, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Consuming too much salt leads to high blood pressure, which is a major factor in cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., the CDC says in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Average daily sodium intake for the majority of U.S. adults is more than double the recommended dietary limit. Most of the sodium intake is from processed and prepared foods, which makes it difficult for people to control their sodium intake.

Reducing sodium levels across the food supply would help lower Americans' sodium intake, and such interventions would require food industry participation, the CDC says.


Expanded Use of Xgeva Rejected by FDA Panel

The bone drug Xgeva should not be approved to prevent the spread of prostate cancer into the bones, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel said Wednesday.

In a 12-1 vote, the panel decided that the drug did not demonstrate "a favorable risk/benefit" in prostate cancer patients with a high risk of having their cancer spread to the bones, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Amgen Inc.'s Xgeva is currently approved to delay fractures and other bone injuries in patients whose cancer has already spread to the bones.

While not required to do so, the FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory committees, WSJ reported.


Measles Patient Visited Super Bowl Village

People at Indianapolis' Super Bowl Village may have been exposed to a person with measles, but there are no current concerns about a widespread outbreak, Indiana health officials say.

A person confirmed to have measles visited the outdoor Super Bowl Village on Friday afternoon. More than 200,000 people visited the village that day, the Associated Press reported.

The person with measles did not go into the NFL Experience interactive fan exhibit at the Indiana Convention Center, health officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified about the situation, but it could be a week before there are any new cases of measles related to the Super Bowl Village exposure, according to the Indiana State Department of Health, the AP reported.


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