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Health Highlights: April 22, 2014

Health Highlights: April 22, 2014

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

Paper Money Carries Thousands of Types of Bacteria: Study

A study gives new meaning to the term "dirty money."

Researchers found that dollar bills from a Manhattan bank carried 3,000 types of bacteria. Most were the kind found on people's skin, while others were similar to those found in mouths and even in vaginas, ABC News reported.

While most of the bacteria detected on the dollar bills were associated with mild conditions such as acne, there were some antibiotic resistant types, including the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to the researchers at the New York University's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology.

They said their study suggests that paper money could be a way for bacteria to pass between people. For example, they found that bills analyzed in winter were more likely than those tested in summer to carry bacteria that can cause pneumonia, which suggests that money could play a role in its spread, ABC News reported.

The study authors said people shouldn't be overly concerned about their findings.

"Microbes are so important, are very ubiquitous and they surround us all the time," lead investigator Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, told ABC News.

"We did find certain microbes that we might be a little concerned about, but that doesn't mean that people should be unduly concerned," she said.

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HealthCare.gov Users Told to Change Passwords

Americans with accounts on the federal government's HealthCare.gov website should change their passwords due to a possible threat from the Heartbleed bug, officials say.

There is no indication that the website has been compromised and the advice to change passwords is a precautionary measure. Federal officials are conducting an ongoing review of Heartbleed and users of other government websites may also be told to change their passwords, the Associated Press reported.

"While there's no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers' passwords out of an abundance of caution," said a statement posted on the HealthCare.gov website.

The Heartbleed bug affects encryption technology meant to protect online accounts. Users of many websites are being told to change their passwords, the AP reported.

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New Muscular Dystrophy Drug's Chances for Approval Improve

A new drug to treat a form of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys may be closer to becoming the first approved treatment for the disease.

Eteplirsen was created to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects about one in 3,500 boys worldwide. The drug seemed to be on track for swift approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but that effort stalled late last year after a similar type of treatment for the disease failed in a clinical trial, the Washington Post reported.

However, Massachusetts-based Sarepta Therapeutics said Monday that FDA officials outlined a potential way forward for the drug and said they may consider it for accelerated approval.

"This provides the opportunity to get the drug approved and in the hands of all the boys who can benefit from it sometime in 2015," Sarepta chief executive Chris Garabedian told the Post.

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Oscar Mayer Wieners Recalled

About 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer wieners are being recalled by Kraft Foods because they may mistakenly contain cheese.

Packages of "Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners" may instead contain "Classic Cheese Dogs," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Associated Press reported.

The labels on the recalled packages do not list the correct ingredients. The Cheese Dogs include milk, which is an allergen.

The recalled products include:

  • 16-ounce individual consumer packages of "Classic Wieners Made with Turkey & Chicken, Pork Added," with a "USE BY 16 Jun 2014" date and product code "044700000632."

  • Cases of 16-ounce packages that were distributed to retailers of "Classic Cheese Dogs Made with Turkey & Chicken, Pork Added, and Pasteurized Cheese Product," with "USE BY 16 Jun 2014" date and case code "00447000005300."

For more information, consumers can contact Kraft at (855) 688-4386, the AP reported.

 
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