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Health Highlights: May 2, 2014

Last Updated: May 02, 2014.

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

1st MERS Case Reported in U.S.

The first case of a deadly respiratory virus from the Middle East has been reported in the United States, federal health officials announced Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating the case along with Indiana health officials, but released no other details, the Associated Press reported.

A CDC briefing about the case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Since MERS first appeared two years ago, it has sickened at least 400 people and killed more than 100. The outbreak is centered in Saudi Arabia and everyone affected by the virus so far had ties to the Middle East or to someone who traveled there, the AP reported.

Camels have been identified as carriers of MERS, but it's not known how the virus is being spread to people.


Pregnancy-Related Deaths Rising in U.S.

The United States is one of the few countries worldwide that had an increase in pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths in the past decade, a new study says.

Along with the U.S., just seven other countries had rises in maternal deaths between 2003 and 2013, including Afghanistan, Belize and El Salvador, said the researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA Today reported.

The global maternal death rate in 2013 was 209 per 100,000 women. In the U.S., the rate was 12.4 in 1990, 17.6 in 2003 and 18.5 in 2013, according to the study published Friday in The Lancet.

While last year's maternal death rate in the U.S. was lower than in many poor countries, it was higher than the overall rate in developed nations of 12.1 per 100,000 women, which is half the 1990 rate, USA Today reported.

"For American women, high-risk pregnancies and the number of women with inadequate access to preventive and maternal health care are just two potential causes of this trend," study author Nicholas Kassebaum said in a news release. "The good news is that most maternal deaths are preventable, and we can do better."

The rising maternal death rate in the U.S. has been noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said that better tracking of these deaths may be one reason for the increase. But it also says that a growing number of pregnant women in the U.S. have conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, which increase the risk of pregnancy complications and death, USA Today reported.

Each year in the U.S., there are about 650 pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths.

Another study in The Lancet said that 28,000 children younger than 5 died in the United States last year. It noted that while the number of such deaths fell in the U.S. and worldwide between 1990 and 2013, the rate of decline in the U.S. has slowed, USA Today reported.


Generic Anti-Allergy Drugs Recalled

Nearly 30,000 packets of generic anti-allergy medicines are being recalled in the United States by Indian drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.

The recalled allergy relief and nasal decongestant products were made by Ranbaxy's U.S. subsidiary Ohm Laboratories Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported.

The recall was launched after defects were found in blister packaging for the Loratadine and Pseudoephedrine Sulphate Extended Release Tablets.

They were sold at drugs stores in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas, the newspaper reported.

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