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Health Highlights: Sept. 20, 2017

Last Updated: September 20, 2017.

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

FDA OKs Endoscope That's Easier to Clean, Cutting Risk of Infection

An endoscope that may be safer because it's easier to clean than previous types has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The issue of tough-to-clean endoscopes -- tools used to look inside the body -- came to the fore in recent years, with a slew of often fatal infections tied to their use across the United States.

The new Pentax ED34-i10T is the first duodenoscope with a disposable distal cap, a feature that will improve access for cleaning and reprocessing, according to the FDA.

A duodenoscope is a flexible, lighted tube that's threaded through the mouth, throat, and stomach into the top of the small intestine (duodenum).

Each year in the United States, duodenoscopes are used in more than 500,000 procedures to drain fluids from pancreatic and biliary ducts blocked by cancerous tumors, gallstones or other gastrointestinal conditions.

The flexible instruments -- which are threaded through the mouth into the top of the small intestine-- have many small working parts that can be difficult to clean. If the devices are not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, contaminated tissue or fluid can transmit infections between patients.

"We believe the new disposable distal cap represents a major step towards lowering the risk of future infections associated with these devices," Dr. William Maisel, acting director, Office of Device Evaluation, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA, said in an agency news release.


San Francisco's Health Warnings on Sodas Blocked by Appeals Court

A San Francisco law mandating a health warning on ads for sodas and other sugary drinks has been blocked by a federal appeals court.

The ruling Tuesday overturns a lower court ruling that rejected a request by the American Beverage Association and other groups to nullify the law, which was approved in 2015, the Associated Press reported.

In its ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the warning is misleading and may violate freedom of speech.

The law required the warning -- which says that added sugar(s) contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay -- on ads for sugar-sweetened drinks that appear on billboards, buses and places in San Francisco, the AP reported.

The San Francisco City Attorney's Office was analyzing the ruling and assessing its options, according to spokesman John Cote.


Hepatitis A Outbreak Declared in Los Angeles County

An outbreak of hepatitis A was declared Tuesday in Los Angeles County.

It's the third region in California this year to experience a significant number of cases of the highly contagious liver disease, the Associated Press reported.

San Diego has had more than 420 cases and 16 deaths since early this year, and Santa Cruz County has had 69 cases since April.

Los Angeles County public health officials declared the outbreak because two of 10 confirmed cases could not be traced back to either San Diego or Santa Cruz, the AP reported.


Governors Urge Bipartisan Approach to Health Care Reform

Senate Republicans should abandon efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and try to reach a bipartisan deal instead, a group of 10 Democrat and Republican governors said in a letter to Senate leaders.

"As you continue to consider changes to the American health care system, we ask you not to consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment and renew support for bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans," the letter stated, CBS News reported.

Only bipartisan efforts "can achieve true, lasting reforms" said the letter addressed to addressed to Senate leaders, Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

It was signed by Democrats John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Steve Bullock of Montana, Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, and Republicans John Kasich of Ohio, Bill Walker of Alaska, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Phil Scott of Vermont and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, CBS News reported.


Too Few New Antibiotics in Development: WHO

The development of new antibiotics is lagging behind the increasing danger posed by treatment-resistant infections, the World Health Organization says.

As of May, 51 antibiotics and 11 biologicals that could be used in place of antibiotics were being developed, according to a WHO report published Tuesday, CNN reported.

While this may appear to be a large number of potential new drugs, it isn't enough, according to the WHO.

The document is a "fantastic (and very useful!) summary" of the antibiotic situation, Bill Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in an email, CNN reported.

He has also published studies of antibiotic resistance, but was not involved in the WHO's report.

"More resistant infections don't just mean you or someone you care about is more likely to die from one, they also mean healthcare will get even more expensive," Hanage said. "Many of the procedures we take for granted in medicine, from cancer treatments to surgeries, depend on our ability to handle infections that happen in the course of treatment."

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