Health Highlights: April 6, 2012

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

Allergic Reactions Spur Recall of Odwalla Chocolate Drink

Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster beverages are being recalled after four people with peanut allergies suffered severe allergic food reactions after drinking the product.

The recall covers 12-ounce and 32-ounce bottles with "enjoy by" dates to and including May 23, 2012. The bottles were distributed nationwide, the Associated Press reported.

People with peanut and/or tree nut allergies may be at risk for a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if the consume the drink, Odwalla Inc. said.

The Coca-Cola-owned company said the drink contains no peanut or tree nut ingredients and the company is working with the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the cause of these allergic reactions, the AP reported.


Turtle-Linked Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 72 People in 17 States: CDC

Salmonella outbreaks linked to small pet turtles have sickened 72 people in 17 states, according to an investigation update released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fifty-nine percent of the cases involve children 10 or younger. Twelve people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

The number of cases in the affected states are: Arizona (2), California (12), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (6), New Mexico (3), New York (21), Pennsylvania (7), Texas (4), Virginia (1), and Vermont (1).

The CDC investigation found that the outbreaks involving three strains of salmonella were caused by exposure to small pet turtles (shell length less than 4 inches) or their environments, such as water from turtle habitats.

Ninety-two percent of the people with salmonella illness had small turtles and 43 percent of them said they bought the turtles from street vendors.

The CDC said turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches should not be bought or given as gifts.


Americans Cutting Back on Prescription Drugs, Doctor Visits: Study

As they struggle to pay for health care, American patients are using fewer prescription drugs and visiting doctors less often, a new study finds.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of prescriptions issued to U.S. patients fell by 1.1 percent and the number of doctors visits declined by 4.7 percent, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, The New York Times reported.

The health industry research group also found that visits to emergency rooms increased by 7.4 percent. This is likely due to more people losing health insurance because they're out of work, the study authors said.

Older Americans were most likely to cut back on their use of medicines. Prescriptions for patients 65 and older declined by 3.1 percent in 2011, with the biggest declines in prescriptions for drugs to treat high blood pressure and osteoporosis, The Times reported.


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