Health Highlights: June 22, 2016

Health Highlights: June 22, 2016

Health Highlights: June 22, 2016

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

Zika Spurs Golfer Rory McIlroy to Pull Out of Rio Olympics

Irish golfer Rory McIlroy says he won't go to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because he is concerned about the Zika virus.

He is the highest-profile athlete yet to withdraw from Rio over severe birth defects and other health concerns linked with the mosquito-borne virus, and his announcement Wednesday is expected to increase debate about holding the games during a public health emergency, The New York Times reported.

Other athletes who have pulled out of the games scheduled to begin in six weeks include American cyclist Tejay Van Garderen and golfers Marc Leishman of Australia and Vijay Singh of Fiji.

U.S. men's volleyball coach John Speraw said he plans to preserve sperm for a possible future pregnancy before traveling to Rio, and Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol said he was considering the same thing, The Times reported.

Olympic officials say the athletes' risk from Zika is minimal.


Health Care Fraud Investigation Leads to 275 Arrests

The largest crackdown on health care fraud in the United States has led to the arrest of 275 people in more than half the states, federal officials said Wednesday.

The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services said the accused falsely billed Medicare and Medicaid for more than $800 million, NBC News reported.

The phoney billings were for treatments and services deemed medically unnecessary, or services that were never provided, including home care, medical equipment and fake prescriptions.

Among those faces charges are 60 licensed medical professionals, including 30 doctors, NBC News reported.


Harmful Algal Bloom Reporting System Launched by CDC

A new national reporting system for harmful algal blooms has been launched by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The system will collect data from public health agencies on harmful algal blooms and human and animal illnesses they cause.

Harmful algal blooms are becoming more common and severe due to climate change, farming practices, storm and wastewater runoff, and other environmental causes, the CDC said.

Algal blooms can produce toxins that get into water, air and food, and severely deplete oxygen in bodies of water. Along with posing a threat to the local enviornment, these toxins can cause a number of health problems in people and animals.

"Breathing in these toxins can cause coughing or respiratory problems, and swimming in water with a harmful algal bloom can cause skin rashes or other symptoms. People also can get sick from eating fish or shellfish or drinking tap water contaminated with the toxins," according to a CDC news release.
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.