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Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2012

Last Updated: August 30, 2012.

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

More Yosemite Visitors Warned About Rodent-Borne Virus

Another 1,000 people who were former visitors to California's Yosemite National Park are getting warnings on potential exposure to the rodent-borne hantavirus, the Associated Press said Thursday.

The warnings are in addition to those already sent to 1,700 visitors to Yosemite, and were prompted by the deaths from hantavirus of two people who stayed in cabins at the national park.

According to the AP, four people who stayed in tent cabins at the park's Curry Village in June have contracted hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. One of the people who died was from outside California. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the death within the past few days. Two other people were infected and are expected to survive. A fourth case is still being investigated, according to the wire service.

All of the 2,700 people sent warnings are thought to have stayed in tents in Curry Village from mid-June through the end of August. These former visitors should watch for any symptoms of hantavirus, which include fever, aches, chills and dizziness, Yosemite officials said.

Hantavirus symptoms may develop up to five weeks after exposure, federal health officials noted. Yosemite visitors should watch for symptoms for up to six weeks, park officials advised, the AP reported.

There is no specific treatment for hantavirus, which has been fatal in about one-third of the 587 cases documented in the United States since 1993.


Janssen Pays $181 Million to Settle Deceptive Drug Marketing Charges

A $181 million dollar settlement over the marketing of anti-psychotic drugs for nonapproved uses has been reached between Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., parent company Johnson & Johnson and 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Janssen engaged in deceptive practices from 1998 to at least 2004 in the marketing of the drugs Risperdal, Risperdal Consta, Risperdal M-Tab and Invega, according to a court filing by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Associated Press reported.

The company promoted "off-label" uses of the drugs not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Schneiderman said Thursday when he announced the settlement. For example, Janssen is accused of promoting Risperdal for the treatment of dementia in elderly patients, even though it's approved to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Under the settlement, Janssen did not admit to wrongdoing, the AP reported.


Drug Maker Recalls Chemo Medication

More than 31,000 units of a chemotherapy drug are being recalled due to the potential risk of patient overdose, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. says.

The recall affects 10 lots of BiCNU, an injection of the drug carmustine, used to treat multiple myeloma, brain tumors, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the Associated Press reported.

The recall was announced after one overfilled vial was discovered. Taking too much of the drug can lead to lung or kidney toxicity, according to Bristol-Myers. There have been no reports of patients suffering harm.

The recall covers products sold in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe and Latin America, the AP reported.

For more information, consumers and health care professionals can call 1-888-896-4564.


Patient Receives 'World First' Bionic Eye

A "world first" bionic eye prototype has been successfully transplanted into a woman with hereditary sight loss, Australian scientists said Thursday.

The robotic eye was surgically attached to patient Dianne Ashworth's retina. The tiny device contains 24 electrodes that send electrical impulses to stimulate her eye's nerve cells, Agence France-Presse reported.

After Ashworth had recovered from the surgery, the researchers switched on the device in their laboratory.

"I didn't know what to expect, but all of a sudden, I could see a little flash -- it was amazing," Ashworth said in a statement, AFP reported. "Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye."

Ashworth's vision loss was caused by degenerative retinitis pigmentosa. Her device only works when it is connected inside the lab and will be used to investigate how images are created by the brain and eyes.


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