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Health Highlights: March 7, 2018

Last Updated: March 07, 2018.

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

Brain's Hippocampus Doesn't Produce New Neurons After Age 13: Study

The brain's hippocampus stops producing new cells (neurons) by age 13, according to a new study.

It had been thought that the hippocampus -- which plays a major role in learning and memory -- generates new neurons throughout adulthood, CNN reported.

Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, and colleagues analyzed 59 hippocampus tissue samples ranging from fetuses to adults. Their study was published in the journal Nature.

The study is important, according to Jason Snyder, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada. He was not involved in the study but wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.

"It provides strong evidence that the human brain's ability to produce newborn neurons in the hippocampus (a brain region involved in memory formation) is limited as we get older," Snyder wrote in an email to CNN.

The study also points to new areas of investigation.

"If we can understand how neural precursor cells work, we may be able to use them to replace neurons that have died," Snyder told CNN.

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Thousands of Cheerleaders May Have Been Exposed to Mumps

Tens of thousands of people who attended a cheerleaders competition in Dallas last month may have been exposed to mumps, Texas health officials say.

After learning that someone from another state who attended the event had mumps, the state's health department sent out warning letters last Friday about possible exposure to the disease, the Washington Post reported.

"If you, your child, or any other individuals linked to this event experience or have experienced mumps symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider and inform them of your exposure to mumps," the letter states.

There have been no reports of mumps in Texas or any other states in connection with the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship held Feb. 23-25, according to health department spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

He told the Post that the "incubation period" is nearly over and that the "next few days will probably be telling." He said the more than 23,000 cheerleaders and 2,600 coaches from 39 states and nine countries have been advised to watch for mumps symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen jaw and cheeks.

Symptoms typically occur 16 to 18 days after exposure to the virus, which is spread by "breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed" or from "sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps," according to the Mayo Clinic.

It said there is a vaccine for mumps but no specific treatment, but people with the mumps usually recover within a few weeks, the Post reported.

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Pet Guinea Pigs Likely Cause of Multistate Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Pet guinea pigs are the likely cause of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nine people in eight states, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The first illness was reported on July 17, 2015 and the last one on Dec. 15, 2017. One person was hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Even though the last illness was reported late last year, more people could get sick if they're not aware of the risks posed by pet guinea pigs, even if they appear healthy and clean, the CDC said.

Always wash your hands after touching, feeding, caring for, or cleaning the habitats of guinea pigs and other pet rodents, which are not recommended as pets for children younger than 5 years old, and should not be kept in childcare centers or schools with young children.

Salmonella infection can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Illness typically lasts 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment. But in some people, diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is required, the CDC said.

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White House Wants to Improve Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records

An effort to make it easier for patients to use electronic medical records was announced Tuesday by the Trump administration.

No time frame was given for the undertaking, which would include eventually enabling nearly 60 million Medicare beneficiaries to securely access claims data and share it information with their doctors, the Associated Press reported.

While electronic medical records were touted as a great advance, they're widely seen to have fallen short of expectations.

So far, the federal government has spent about $30 billion to get hospitals and doctors to use electronic medical records. It's unclear how much difference this new effort will make, the AP reported.


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