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Health Highlights: Jan. 17, 2019

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

Doctor at Ohio Hospital Gave Potentially Lethal Doses of Painkillers to Patients

A doctor at an Ohio hospital was fired after an internal investigation concluded the osteopathic physician gave potentially lethal doses of pain medication to at least 27 patients who were close to death.

The physician ordered "more than what was needed to provide comfort" to dying patients whose families had requested a halt to all life-saving measures, according to a statement from Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, CNN reported.

The doctor had worked at the hospital for five years, Ed Lamb, Mount Carmel's president and CEO, said in a statement. He said authorities have been alerted about the cases.

A lawsuit filed against the doctor, hospital, one pharmacist and one nurse on behalf of one patient who died alleges the death was caused by a lethal dose of the pain medication fentanyl, CNN reported.

It's unknown if any other patients may have died after receiving pain medications from the doctor.


FDA Down to 5 Weeks of Funding for Reviewing New Drug Applications

Due to the federal government shutdown, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only about five weeks of funding left to review new drug applications, Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says.

In order to keep reviewing applications, the FDA has stretched its those funds, which come from user fees paid by drug companies before the shutdown, Gottlieb said Monday on Twitter.

The FDA can't accept new fees or applications until the shutdown is over, CNN reported.

However, blood and allergy-related products aren't covered by the user fee program "so routine review activity ceased related to new products in these categories," Gottlieb said.

He also said the FDA has about three months of funding for medical devices, CNN reported.

The partial shutdown began on Dec. 22 and on Jan. 12 became the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.


Third Cat in Wyoming Tests Positive for Bubonic Plague

Another cat has tested positive for bubonic plague in Wyoming, making it the third such case over the past six months.

The latest case involved a cat in the small town of Kaycee, state health officials said. The other infected cats were in Sheridan and Campbell counties, CBS News reported.

No human cases of bubonic plague have been identified, but the disease can be passed from infected animals to people, health officials warn.

On average, there are seven human plague cases in the United States each year. The last known human case in Wyoming occurred in 2008, CBS News reported.

Plague, which occurs naturally in the areas of the western and southwestern U.S., is caused by a bacteria that's spread through the bite of fleas on infected rodents.


Anti-Vaxxers a Major Global Health Threat: WHO

Anti-vaxxers are among the top 10 health threats facing the world in 2019, the World Health Organization says.

The movement against vaccinations has taken hold in a number of countries, including the United States. The percentage of American children aged 19 to 35 months who have not been vaccinated has quadrupled since 2001, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Newsweek reported.

A growing number of people in many U.S. states are anti-vaccination, according to a recent study in the journal PLoS One.

"Since 2009, the number of 'philosophical-belief' vaccine non-medical exemptions has risen in 12 of the 18 states that currently allow this policy: Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah," the study authors wrote, Newsweek reported.

The other top 10 global health threats include: air pollution and climate change; non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes; global flu pandemic; antimicrobial resistance; Ebola and other highly dangerous pathogens; weak primary health care; dengue; HIV; and lack of access to basic health care.

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