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Health Capsules - 02/022020




Reporting from NYC, here are this weeks health news capsules as of January 26, 2020.


They include medical, health, and wellness news and urgent bulletins as well as recalls of drugs, medical devices.


Many thanks to the health news aggregators: ScienceDaily, Reuters, Medical News Today, Medical News Bulletin, MedScape, NewsMax Health, Medical Express, Insider Health, the FDA, and the CDC.






First the FDA RECALLS:


Cotija Cheese (Quesa Cotija) by Quesos La Ricura LTD recalled due to E. Coli contamination.  The bug has the dangerous shiga toxin that causes severe diarrhea but also hemolytic uremic syndrome with kidney damage especially in young children.  Sold in NY, NC, PA, GA, FL.   Return to point of purchase or call company (516) 932-5756.  Vidcast:



Harris Teeter’s Fresh Food Market Mushroom Barley Soup is being recalled by Bakkavor Foods USA.  May contain undeclared milk and a danger if you’re milk allergic.  Turns out some Chicken Wild Rice Soup containing milk was packaged as Mushroom Barley soup.  Sold in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington DC.  Return to point of purchase or call company at 855-312-7504.  Vidcast:


Beepa’s Goulash being recalled by Beeps of Beloit, WI. Undeclared milk that could cause allergic reaction.  Sold in WI and northern IL. Return to point of purchase or call company at 860-362-1703.  Vidcast:



Now the NEWS.


Purell Warned By FDA to stop making unproven marketing claims.  Boasts that it improves school attendance and can prevent flu, norovirus, MRSA, and even Ebola are BS.  The manufacturer says that the CDC and WHO recommend using alcohol hand sanitizer to prevent infection spread.  In reality, this recommendation only holds if soap and water aren’t available since hand washing is more effective than sanitizers. Vidcast:



Coronavirus Update

  • Numbers of infected, hospitalized, and perished continues to rise quickly.  Get the latest stats from Bloomberg: and bookmark the page.

  • As of this recording, 2/1/20, 2pm: ConfirmedCasesWorldwide: 11,958; DeathsWorldwide: 259.

  • Official name to date 2019-nCoV

  • Genetically similar to SARS coronavirus and thought to have originated in bats.  The originally report snake may have been an intermediate host.

  • The WHO has declared a global health emergency.

  • Risk of spread highest: 1. Bangkok Thailand, 2. Hong Kong, 3. Taipei China followed by 6. USA, 10. Australia,  12 Sydney Australia, 16.New York City, 17. UK.

  • Cloth masks are not proven barriers to spread.  While they can catch large liquid droplet containing infected material, most cannot filter out fine viral particles in the air.  Spread is often from hand to mouth, masks do remind you to keep your hands from your face.  Frequent hand washing is effective.  The FDA has cleared more effective N95 mask respirators for use by the general public.  If you use one, be sure that it has a tight fit to your face covering your nose and mouth.





Severed Thumb Replaced By Toe

A British cobbler who accidentally demolished his right thumb had it replaced surgically with his big toe.  The surgeons took 10 hours to complete the operations needed for this transformation.  He has returned to repairing shoes.  Magical piece of good news.



New Treatment for C. difficile In Kids

Clostridium difficile is a nasty bacterium that pops up in the gut after antibiotic therapy for other infections.  This highly contagious germ can trigger life-threatening colitis.  The treatment for seven infections has been the powerful antibiotic vancomycin and for milder infections metronidazole.  The first additional antibiotic be developed for this dangerous condition in 30 years, fidaxomicin (Dificid), was approved for adults, 9 years ago.  Now the FDA announced its approval for use in children 6 months of age or older.  This drug gave significantly higher sustained cures than vancomycin after a randomized trial at the Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  Its available as an oral suspension or tablets.





Community Barbershops Help Diagnose Diabetes In Black Men

A study just published by NYU shows that hemoglobin A1C testing in neighborhood barbershops can effectively screen black men for diabetes.  A total of 900 black men in Brooklyn were offered free testing at their trusted black-owned barbershops.  One-third consented to participate, and 9% of those were found to have undiagnosed diabetes and 28% more had pre-diabetes.  A disproportionate number of black men with diabetes suffer complications when compared with other racial and ethnic groups.  Community barbershops have also successfully screened their customers for high blood pressure.




Those are this week’s Health News Capsules.


I’m Dr. Howard Smith


With this Health News Capsule


I’m Dr. Howard Smith

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