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Health Highlights: June 28, 2013

Health Highlights: June 28, 2013

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

Mandela Showing 'Great Improvement,' Ex-Wife Says

Former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is showing "great improvement," according to his ex-wife, who spoke to the press on Friday after visiting the critically ill leader in the hospital.

"I'm not a doctor, but I can say that from what he was a few days ago there is great improvement," said Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, CBS/Associated Press reported.

The 94-year-old Mandela has been hospitalized as doctors help him battle the latest in a series of respiratory illnesses. According to CBS/AP, family members as well as South African Cabinet ministers have paid recent visits to the hospital to see him.

South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday described Mandela's condition as critical but stable.

U.S. President Barack Obama headed to South Africa on Friday, as part of a planned three-nation tour of Africa. But it remains uncertain whether Obama will visit Mandela.

"I don't need a photo-op, and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned about Nelson Mandela's condition," he said in a statement, CBS/AP reported. "I've had the opportunity to meet with him. Michelle and the girls had an opportunity to meet with him. Right now, our main concern is with his well-being, his comfort, and with the family's well-being and comfort."

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Baby Aspirin Recalled After Acetaminophen Discovery

More than 16,000 bottles of baby aspirin are being recalled by Advance Pharmaceutical Inc. after one of the bottles was found to be filled with acetaminophen pills.

The recall covers 120-pill bottles labeled to contain 81-milligram aspirin pills. The bottle discovered by a CVS pharmacist contained 500-mg acetaminophen pills, ABC News reported.

No injuries have been reported, according to Advance Pharmaceutical spokesman Abu Amanatullah.

Doctors said that unknowningly taking acetaminophen instead of baby aspirin could lead to an overdose that results in liver failure, the need for a liver transplant or death, ABC News reported.

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3-Person Fertility Treatments Being Considered in Britain

A controversial technique that uses DNA from three people to create a baby may be approved in Britain, according to a top medical official.

This method would help women with faulty mitochondria -- the energy source in a cell -- from passing this problem to their children. Mitochondrial disorders can result in conditions such as epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation and heart problems, the Associated Press reported.

In this procedure, healthy genetic material is taken from the egg or embryo of a woman with a mitochondrial disorder and transferred into a donor egg or embryo that still has its healthy mitochondria but has had the rest of its key DNA removed. The fertilized egg or embryo is then transferred into the mother's womb.

"Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on," Dr. Sally Davies, Britain's chief medical officer, said in a statement, the AP reported. "It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can."

Critics say such methods are unethical, but there is wide public support for them, according to the U.K.'s fertility regulator.

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Second Company Recalls Pomegranate Seeds

Another company has announced a recall of pomegranate seeds from Turkey that could be contaminated with hepatitis A, an infectious disease of the liver.

Scenic Fruit Company in Oregon is recalling more than 61,000 bags of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels shipped between February and May of this year, the ABC News reported. Investigators have not found any evidence of hepatitis A contamination in the kernels and no one has become sick from eating them, according to information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website.

"The company's decision to voluntarily recall products is made from an abundance of caution in response to an ongoing outbreak investigation by the FDA and CDC," according to the recall notice.

A hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey included in a frozen berry mix from Townsend Farms in Oregon. The outbreak has sickened 122 people in eight states and 54 of them have been hospitalized, according to the CDC, ABC News reported.

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Illegal Online Pharmacy Crackdown Closes 1,677 Websites

More than $41 million in illegal medicines have been confiscated and 1,677 websites have been shut down by American and international regulators in their ongoing battle against counterfeit drugs sold over the Internet, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Federal court warrants were used to seize website domain names and post messages to warn visitors that people who traffic in counterfeit drugs may face severe penalties under U.S. law, the Associated Press reported.

The message also provides visitors with a link to an FDA website that outlines the risks of fake online pharmacies.

The website closures and counterfeit drug seizures announced Thursday were part of a weeklong crackdown that was organized by the international police agency Interpol and ended Sunday. No arrests were made but the investigation is continuing, the AP reported.

A similar operation last year led to the closure of more than 18,000 illegal online pharmacies, the seizure of $10.5 million in medicines, and the arrests of about 80 people.

 
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