Health Highlights: May 7, 2013

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

Valley Fever Cases Rising in U.S.

The number of cases of a potentially deadly fungal lung infection called Valley Fever is on the rise in arid regions of the United States.

The infection can be caught by inhaling fungus spores in airborne dust. Experts say a hotter, dryer climate has increased the dust carrying the spores of a fungus called Coccidioides, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

There was a sharp increase in the incidence of Valley Fever in California's agricultural heartland in 2010 and 2011. And last week, a federal official ordered the transfer of more than 3,000 highly vulnerable inmates from two San Joaquin Valley prisons where several dozen have died of Valley Fever in recent years.

"Research has shown that when soil is dry and it is windy, more spores are likely to become airborne in endemic areas," Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health, told CBS News/AP.


N.J. Gov. Christie Had Weight-Loss Surgery

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent weight-loss surgery in February.

The governor told the New York Post that he had the lap-band procedure at the urging of his family and friends. Lap-band surgery involves placing a silicone tube around the top of the stomach in order to restrict the amount of food that can be eaten at one time, USA Today reported.

"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," Christie told the Post. "For me this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."

Christie did not reveal how much weight he has lost since the surgery, but the Post quoted sources who said he has lost 40 pounds, USA Today reported.


Mental Disorder Manual Lacks Scientific Validity: Expert

The new edition of the so-called bible of mental disorders suffers from a scientific "lack of validity," according to the U.S. government's leading psychiatric expert.

The revised version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is due to published in a few weeks. It's the first update of the DSM since 1994 and will be known as DSM-5, The New York Times reported.

However, the manual does not reflect the complexity of many mental disorders and its method of categorizing mental illnesses should not guide research, said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

"As long as the research community takes the DSM to be a bible, we'll never make progress," Dr. Insel told The Times. "People think that everything has to match DSM criteria, but you know what? Biology never read that book," he added.


FDA Warns About Breast Cancer Drug Name Confusion

The generic names of two breast cancer drugs can cause confusion and lead to dosing errors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

One drug's brand name is Kadcyla and its generic name is ado-trastuzumab emtansine. The other drug's brand name is Herceptin and its generic name is trastuzumab. Some electronic health record systems pharmacy prescription processing and ordering systems incorrectly use the name trastuzumab emtansine when referring to Kadcyla.

"The dosing and treatment schedules for Kadcyla and Herceptin ... are quite different, so confusion between these products could lead to dosing errors and potential harm to patients," the FDA said.

Since Kadcyla was approved on Feb. 22, 2013, there have not been any reported medication errors related to the confusion between Kadcyla and Herceptin. However, errors did occur during clinical trials for Kadcyla before its approval.

Health care professionals should use both the brand name for Kadcyla and its full generic name when writing medication orders or using computerized order entry systems, the FDA said.

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