Health Highlights: April 13, 2015

Health Highlights: April 13, 2015

Health Highlights: April 13, 2015

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

Two Hundred Struck by Stomach Illness on Two Separate Cruise Ships

More than 200 people aboard two different cruise ships headed to San Diego have fallen ill with a gastrointestinal illness, U.S. health officials said Monday evening.

According to the Associated Press, 112 passengers and crew members on the Celebrity Infinity were struck with norovirus on the ship's latest voyage, which took passengers from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego via the Panama Canal.

That ship arrived in San Diego Monday and is being sanitized, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, 116 passengers and crew have become experiencing vomiting and diarrhea from an unknown illness while aboard a second cruise ship, the Royal Caribbean Legend. That vessel is set to arrive in San Diego Tuesday, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the AP.

Norovirus can be transmitted from contaminated food or water or an infected person, CDC officials told the wire service.


65-Year-Old German Woman Pregnant With Quadruplets

A 65-year-old German woman who is pregnant with quadruplets said she wanted to have another child because her young daughter wants a playmate.

Annegret Raunigk is a school teacher who already has 13 children -- the oldest is 44 and the youngest is nine. She is due this summer and has not experienced any pregnancy complications, USA Today reported.

Raunigk became pregnant after several attempts at artificial insemination over the past year-and-a-half. She told the German newsapper Bild that she had a difficult choice when she learned she was pregnant with four children instead of one.

She decided to take her chances and doctors are closely monitoring her health, USA Today reported.

"I'm not afraid," Raunigk told Bild.


Nearly 90 Percent of Adults Have Health Insurance: Survey

Nearly 9 out of 10 American adults now have health insurance, according to a survey released Monday.

That's compared with slightly more than 8 out of 10 as recently as 2013, the Associated Press reported.

In the first three months of this year, 11.9 percent of adults said they did not have health insurance, which is the lowest level since the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey started tracking the statistic in 2008.

Gallup said an estimated 14.75 million adults have gained coverage since the fall of 2013, when the first open enrollment season was about to begin, the AP reported.

"The Affordable Care Act had three major objectives: increase coverage, slow the rate of increase in costs, and improve health," survey research director Dan Witters said. "The first one is clearly a win. Coverage is increasing; there is no question about it."

Hispanics showed the largest coverage gains of any ethnic/racial group, with an 8.3 percent fall in those without insurance. However, Hispanics are still more likely than other ethnic/racial groups to be uninsured, the AP reported.

While rates of coverage have risen among people in all income levels, those making less than $36,000 a year have had the largest gains, with an 8.7 percent fall in their uninsured rate since the end of 2013.

The overall uninsured rate is now significantly lower than it was in early 2008, before the recession, which suggests that the increasing number of Americans with health insurance is due to more than an improving economy, the AP reported.

"A big outstanding question is what will happen over the next couple of years," according to Larry Levitt, a health insurance expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

"To meet expectations, enrollment has to continue to grow and push the number of uninsured down," he told the AP.

The health care law also faces an upcoming Supreme Court challenge.


FDA Should Not Allow Snus Warning Label Changes: Advisory Panel

A panel of expert advisers says the U.S. Food and Drug Admnistration should not allow a Swedish company to market its smokeless tobacco pouches -- called snus -- as less dangerous to health than cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Swedish Match wants the FDA to permit it to revise warning labels on its snus, but the panel said Friday that company data do not support such a request, the Associated Press reported.

In a unanimous decision, the eight-member panel said the company's data do not show that snus carry a lower risk of gum disease and tooth loss than other smokeless tobacco products.

Snus are popular in Scandinavian countries and part of a growing smokeless tobacco market in the United States, the AP reported.

The FDA typically follows the recommendations of its advisory panels.
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