Health Highlights: Nov. 12, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 12, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 12, 2014

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

Ebola Victim's Family Reaches Settlement With Texas Health Resources

The family of the only patient to die of Ebola after being treated for the disease in the United States has reached a settlement with Texas Health Resources.

Thomas Eric Duncan was a Liberian national who began having Ebola symptoms after arriving in Texas in September. He went to the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, but was misdiagnosed and sent home, CNN reported.

Duncan was hospitalized days later, confirmed to have Ebola and began receiving care, but later died.

Few details of the confidential settlement were released, but it does include the creation of the Texas Health Dallas Thomas Eric Duncan Memorial Fund, which will raise money to help victims of Ebola in West Africa, according to Duncan family attorney Les Weisbrod.

He also said that Texas Health Resources gave the family a private letter of apology, CNN reported.


Study Reveals Why Some People Can't Keep a Beat

People who can't keep a beat may have abnormally functioning "internal oscillators," according to a new study.

Internal oscillators help people synchronize their rhythmic activities, such as walking or jogging, dancing or clapping their hands, the Washington Post reported.

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal studied two "beat deaf" people and found that their internal oscillators did not adapt correctly to the changing rate of a metronome, a device that helps musicians keep time.

The study was published in the journal Philosophical Transaction: Biological Sciences.


New Ebola Outbreak in Mali

Just days after it was announced that Mali was Ebola-free, health officials confirmed a second and more threatening outbreak of the deadly disease in the African nation.

The first case in the new outbreak was a man from Guinea who became ill with what was believed to be kidney failure and traveled to Mali to receive treatment at a private clinic in Mali's capital Bamako, The New York Times reported.

The man died at the clinic on Oct. 27 without being diagnosed with Ebola. It only became apparent that he was carrying the disease after a nurse at the clinic fell ill and died, and World Health Organization officials heard that the man's family members in Guinea were dying.

"It was a real failure by the clinic," Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO Mali team leader told The Times.

The large clinic where the patient died and another small clinic where he was also treated are under quarantine, as is the large family compound where the nurse lived. Health officials are trying to trace everyone who had contact with the patient and the nurse.

So far, 28 staff members at the large clinic have been quarantined, as have 50 people who had contact with the nurse. A friend who visited the patient at the large clinic has also died and is suspected to have had Ebola, The Times reported.


First Total Tobacco Sales Ban in U.S. Being Considered by Massachusetts Town

The town of Westminster, Mass. may become the first community in the United States to ban the sale of all tobacco and nicotine products.

Residents will debate the health board proposal on Wednesday and have until Dec. 1 to submit their comments. The health board will vote on the issue sometime after that, NBC News reported.

Public health groups support the proposal, which is opposed by many smokers, shopkeepers and others in the town.

While no U.S. community has banned the sale of tobacco products, some retailers are examining their tobacco policies. In September, CVS pulled all tobacco products from its 7,700 stores, becoming the first major American drugstore to do so, NBC News reported.


Robin Williams had Type of Dementia That Causes Hallucinations: Report

Robin Williams had a form of dementia that can cause hallucinations, according to a pathology report.

A summary of the forensic evaluation conducted on Williams' brain after he committed suicide notes that he had Lewy body dementia, a degenerative condition in which nerves cells in the brain are blocked by protein clumps (bodies) that interfere with function, USA Today reported.

About 1.3 million people have Lewy body dementia, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

People with Lewy body dementia develop memory and language problems and also experience vivid hallucinations, Gayatri Devi, a neurologist and memory disorder specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told USA Today.

However, there is no research showing that hallucinations caused by Lewy body dementia can lead to suicide, Devi said.

Williams died in his Tiburon, Calif. home in August. On Friday, the Marin County coroner said the official cause of death was suicide by hanging. Williams had no alcohol or drugs in his system and only normal levels of prescribed medications.

Williams suffered from chronic depression and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in November 2013.

Patients with Lewy body dementia are sometimes misdiagnosed with Parkinson's, which can lead to doctors to prescribe medications that make Lewy body dementia symptoms worse, according to Devi.

"Patients with Lewy body disease can hallucinate on their own but give them a Parkinson's drug and it can make hallucinations worse," she told USA Today. "And drugs used to treat Lewy body hallucinations can cause symptoms of Parkinson's."

While reports suggest that Williams' family believes Lewy body disease was a critical factor in his suicide, Devi said that would be unusual.

"Suicide does not usually occur in Lewy body dementia patients," Devi told USA Today. "I see a fair amount of it because Lewy body disease is the second-most-common kind of dementia after Alzheimer's."
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