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Health News Headlines: Ebola ‘Contact Tracing’ To Ohio; New EV-D68 Test; Chantix Remains On Market

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Efforts to calm public fear about Ebola continue to top news headlines this week. The practice of what’s called ‘contact tracing’ shifted to the state of Ohio mid-week, after it was learned that the second Texas nurse diagnosed with Ebola flew to and from Cleveland, after she had developed a fever. The CDC is trying to track down people who were on her Frontier Airlines flights. CDC Director Dr Thomas Frieden says chances are low that others were infected. But the woman should not have been allowed to leave Dallas. 

Another virus is also on the CDC hit list this week: Enterovirus 68. This week, the CDC introduced a new test for the virus so health care workers can better pinpoint and track its spread. Enterovirus 68 mimics the flu and causes severe respiratory problems. Six children have died and hundreds of others have been sickened since August. The virus is common in the winter months but this year it started early. 

One of the longest running tests using stem cells from human embryos has shown great success...so much so that researchers say the study could re-invigorate the controversial use of stem cells to treat other diseases. The study was small: 18 patients who had macular degeneration, were treated with cells from a days old embryo that had been created in a fertility clinic. But no one in the trial formed tumors or experienced blindness after the treatment. Even so, experts say it will be years before a treatment might be available

The drug Chantix will remain on the market as a tool to help smokers quit, but the FDA announced this week that so will its black box warning. It’s the most restrictive one the FDA can place on a product. Chantix users will be warned of the products possible severe side effects including suicidal thoughts, erratic behavior and drowsiness. 

More Baby Boomer bikers are ending up in the hospital with injuries. Or at least when it’s a man behind the wheels. A Canadian study found an increase in the number of motorcycle injuries among male bikers over the age of 45. Not so for women or younger male bikers. The study suggests that older riders tend to ride for fun and might not be paying enough attention to safety, so perhaps they do need to ease into the activity a bit more when they hit the road.