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Health Highlights: Dec. 10, 2018

Last Updated: December 10, 2018.

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

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects States' Appeal Over Medicaid Funding for Planned Parenthood

An appeal from Kansas and Louisiana over Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood has been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The two states were appealing lower court rulings that prevented them from withholding Medicaid money used for health services for low-income women. The money is not used for abortions, the Associated Press reported.

Abortion opponents have say Planned Parenthood -- the nation's largest abortion provider -- should not receive any government money.

The fight about Medicaid funding stems from an anti-abortion group's 2015 release of heavily edited videos that claimed to show Planned Parenthood profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research, the AP reported.

The only payments it received were for legally permitted reimbursement of costs, Planned Parenthood says.


Tap Water in Neti Pot Linked to Woman's Death from Brain-Eating Amoeba

The use of tap water in a nasal-flushing Neti pot likely led to a Seattle woman's death from a brain-eating amoeba, doctors write in a case study.

Instead of using sterile water or saline, it's believed the 69-year-old woman used tap water she'd put in a filter-equipped pitcher, CBS News reported.

The amoeba got into her upper nasal cavity and then into her bloodstream, eventually reaching her brain, according to the study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

This a rare case that serves as a reminder for people to follow the directions when using a Neti pot, and to use only boiled or distilled water, said Dr. Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle who treated the woman, CBS News reported.

"She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline. She had been using water that had been put through a filter and maybe it had been sitting there and somehow the amoeba from somewhere else got in there. So that's what we suspect is the source of the infection," Cobbs said. "This is so rare there have only been like 200 cases ever."

Swimming in warm freshwater lakes and rivers is the most common cause of such cases, but there are rare instances where such infections occur after tap water gets into the nose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This type of infection cannot occur from swallowing water, and cannot pass from person to person, CBS News reported.


Ebola Spreads to Large City in Congo

The Ebola outbreak in Congo has spread to the major eastern city of Butembo, and there are concerns about vaccine supplies.

The appearance of the deadly disease in the city of more than 1 million adds to the already difficult task of containing the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, the Associated Press reported.

The number of new cases is rising rapidly in the city's eastern suburbs and outlying, isolated districts, according to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Health experts wonder if the supply of an experimental Ebola vaccine will be adequate to cope with the outbreak that was declared on Aug. 1, the AP reported.

To date, there have been 423 confirmed cases, including 225 confirmed deaths, Congo's health ministry said Thursday.

So far, more than 41,000 people have been vaccinated. Vaccine maker Merck has a stockpile of 300,000 doses, and preparing them takes months, the AP reported.

"We are extremely concerned about the size of the vaccine stockpile," Dr. Peter Salama, emergencies director, World Health Organization, said in an interview with the STAT media outlet this week.

He said 300,000 doses is not sufficient as Ebola outbreaks in cities become more common, the AP reported.

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