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Health Highlights: Sept. 25, 2020

Last Updated: September 25, 2020.

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

Mercury Risk Means Certain People Shouldn't Get Amalgam Dental Fillings: FDA

Certain people are at higher risk for health problems from mercury-containing amalgam dental fillings and should avoid them if possible, a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation says.

Groups that may be at greater risk of harm from mercury vapor released by these fillings include: pregnant women and their developing fetuses; women who are planning to become pregnant; nursing women and their newborns and infants; children, especially those younger than six years of age; people with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease; people with impaired kidney function; and people with known allergy to mercury or other components of dental amalgam, which also includes silver, tin and copper.

The recommendation was issued after a review of research, monitoring reports and public discussions.

"The FDA is not recommending anyone remove or replace existing amalgam fillings in good condition unless it is considered medically necessary because removing intact amalgam fillings can cause a temporary increase in exposure to mercury vapor and the potential loss of healthy tooth structure, potentially resulting in more risks than benefits," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an agency news release.

"While the available evidence suggests that dental amalgam use has generally declined over recent years, due to more alternative products being offered and used effectively for dental restorations, high-risk individuals, as noted in our recommendations, should discuss alternative products for restoring teeth with their dentist," Shuren said.

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Scientists Sequence Genome of Mold That Produced First Penicillin

The genome of the original mold that produced the first penicillin has been sequenced by scientists.

The world's first antibiotic was accidentally discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming when mold contaminated one of his petri dishes, CNN reported.

"Remarkably, after all this time spent in the freezer, (the mold) grows back fairly readily. It is fairly easy, you just break it out of that tube and put it on a petri dish plate and away it goes," said Tim Barraclough, a professor at the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London and the Department of Zoology at Oxford University.

This is the first time the genome of the mold has been sequenced, and the researchers said what they've learned could help efforts to combat antibiotic resistance, CNN reported.

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Wood Ear Mushrooms Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Recalled wood ear mushrooms imported by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and sold to restaurants may be linked to a multi-state salmonella outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

"Restaurants should not sell or serve recalled wood ear mushrooms distributed by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc., labeled as Shirakiku brand Black Fungus (Kikurage). Restaurants should immediately discard any of the recalled product," Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response, said in an FDA news release.

"Wood ear mushrooms imported by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc. were only sold to restaurants and were not available directly to consumers," Yiannas added.

The mushrooms were distributed in six packs of five-pound bags to restaurants in AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, and Canada.

"Concerned or high-risk individuals should check with their restaurant to confirm that any wood ear mushrooms that have been used or are being used are not part of this recall, and boiling water should be used anytime dried mushrooms are reconstituted," Yiannas said.

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Two Health Care Executive Orders Announced by Trump

Two new health care executive orders were announced Thursday by President Donald Trump.

One protects pre-existing conditions and the other prevents surprise billing, but they're likely to have little impact, according to NBC News.

Pre-existing conditions are already protected under the Affordable Care Act, which Trump is trying to dismantle, and the surprise billing order requires Congress to pass legislation.

Trump has repeatedly pledged a health care overhaul but hasn't produced a solid alternative to the Affordable Care Act, which has become increasingly popular among Americans, NBC News reported.


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