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Health Highlights: Oct. 9, 2012

Last Updated: October 09, 2012.

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

Dengue Epidemic Declared in Puerto Rico

A dengue epidemic was declared Monday by Puerto Rico's health department.

At least six people have died, including two children younger than 10, according to Health Secretary Lorenzo Gonzalez. There have been 4,816 cases reported, including 21 cases of potentially fatal hemorrhagic dengue, the Associated Press reported.

There were 342 new cases reported in one week last month, twice the number of cases during the same period last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The dengue virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headaches and joint and muscle pain. In 2010, a dengue epidemic in Puerto Rico resulted in more than 12,000 suspected cases and claimed a record 31 lives, the AP reported.


Scientists Aim to Make Human Sperm, Eggs from Stem Cells

A team of U.S. scientists says their goal is to use embryonic stem cells to create human sperm for reproduction within two years and eggs within five years.

They said they were "reinvigorated" by the success of Kyoto University researchers in Japan who used mice stem cells to create eggs, which were fertilized to produce baby mice, BBC News reported.

"We've been mostly working on the human system to do the same things -- to make mature eggs and mature sperm in a dish," Dr. Renee Pera, of Stanford University in California, explained.

Achieving their goal could help improve understanding about embryos and the reproductive process and eventually provide new options for infertile couples, BBC News reported.

About 15 percent of reproductive-aged couples worldwide are infertile.


Soda Vending Machines to Display Calorie Counts

Some soft drink makers are introducing new vending machines that display calorie counts to consumers.

The information will be on the buttons of the Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper machines, which will also remind consumers that they can choose a low-calorie drink. The new machines will be introduced in Chicago and San Antonio municipal buildings in 2013 before being distributed nationally, the Associated Press reported.

Monday's announcement comes ahead of proposed new rules expected as early as next year that would require restaurant chains and vending machines to post calorie information.

"This would be an important step forward," said Mike Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which promotes safe food and nutrition. "Currently, people don't think about calories when they go up to a vending machine. Having the calories right on the button will help them make choices," he told the AP.


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