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Health Highlights: Jan. 25, 2018

Last Updated: January 25, 2018.

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

E. Coli Outbreak Tied to Leafy Greens is Over: CDC

An E. coli outbreak in 15 states that was likely caused by leafy greens appears to be over, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The leafy greens linked to the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak are no longer for sale due to their short shelf life. The final update on the investigation was released Thursday.

The most recent illness began more than six weeks ago, on Dec. 12, 2017.

The CDC was not able to identify a specific type of leafy greens as the source of the outbreak. Romaine lettuce was initially suspected, but the CDC says people who became ill were not more likely to have eaten the food than those who did not become sick.


Senate Confirms Alex Azar as Health Secretary

The U.S. Senate has confirmed former drug company and government executive Alex Azar as the new health secretary.

The 55-43 vote was largely along party lines, the Associated Press reported.

Azar, 50, is an Ivy League-educated lawyer. He replaces Tom Price, who resigned last fall after provoking outrage over his use of costly private charter aircraft for official travel. Price was a major player in President Donald Trump's failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Azar served in senior health jobs in the George W. Bush administration and his nomination as health secretary had wide support in the health care industry. He is steady, knowledgeable and willing to listen to both sides, according to some Democratic health policy experts who have worked with him, the AP reported.

However, his drug industry connections have been criticized by consumer groups, and many Democrats and some Republicans have expressed doubts about his promise to help lower drug costs.

Azar outlined four main priorities as health secretary: reducing the cost of prescription drugs; making health insurance more affordable and available; tackling the opioid addiction epidemic; and continuing bipartisan attempts to make quality central to Medicare payments, the AP reported.


Tiny Device Could Lead to Better Treatment of Brain Diseases

A hair-thin device that can deliver medications at precise locations deep in the brain shows promise in tests on animals.

The implant could lead to better and safer treatment of brain diseases such as Parkinson's and depression, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology biomedical engineers, the Associated Press reported.

Their research was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"You could deliver things right to where you want, no matter the disease," said team member Robert Langer, a professor at MIT.

"There's a lot of therapeutic potential for this," Tracy Cui, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told the AP. She wasn't involved with the MIT study, but is working on similar technology.


Meatballs Recalled Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

Possible listeria contamination has triggered the recall of more than 3,400 pounds of beef meatball products made by Rich Products Corporation of New Jersey.

The recall is for 36-lb. cases containing six 6-lb. bags of "Member's Mark Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style Beef Meatballs" with a "Best if Used By 17 DEC 2018," the lot code 15507351, and the establishment number "EST. 5336" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The products were produced on Dec. 17, 2017 and shipped to distributors in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Food contaminated with listeria can cause a serious infection called listeriosis.

Consumers with the recalled meatballs should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase, FSIS said. For more information, call Rich Products at 1-800-356-7094.

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