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Health Highlights: Jan. 7, 2019

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

'Sonic Attacks' on U.S. Embassy Staff in Cuba May Have Been Crickets

Crickets could be the cause of what's been called sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats and their families in Cuba, according to scientists who analyzed an audio sample of the bizarre noises reported in 2016 and 2017.

The sample was obtained and released by the Associated Press in late 2017, but U.S. officials have not been able to pinpoint the source of the piercing noise that led to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and pain and ringing in the ears, CNN reported.

U.S. Department of State officials have said it may have been "acoustic attack" by sonic devices, but Cuban officials have denied any attack.

The noise could the echoing call of the Indies short-tailed cricket, according to an analysis of the AP recording. The findings were released Jan. 4 by an American and British scientist, CNN reported.

While the sound on that recording is from crickets, the finding does not rule out the "the possibility that embassy personnel were victims of another form of attack," according to Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, professor of sensory biology, University of Lincoln, U.K., and Alexander Stubbs, University of California, Berkeley.

They also said the finding does not exclude the possibility that the symptoms suffered by the diplomats and their families were psychosomatic, CNN reported.


Swedish Patient Does Not Have Ebola

A man in Sweden who was being treated for suspected Ebola infection does not have the deadly virus, doctors say.

The patient was in the East African country of Burundi for about three weeks and returned to Sweden three weeks ago, according to Mikael Kohler, chief medical officer at Uppsala University Hospital. He said that the patient displayed potential symptoms of Ebola, including vomiting blood, upon arrival at the hospital.

As reported by CNN on Friday, Kohler said that the man had visited "mostly urban areas in Burundi, where there isn't thought to be any active Ebola as far as we know."

Burundi does share a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, where an outbreak of deadly Ebola is ongoing.

But, "we have run several tests for the Ebola virus and other viruses and they have been negative," Kohler said.

The patient, who is in isolation, "has become much better and stable and not bleeding anymore," Kohler added.


Strong Tobacco Sales Rules May Reduce Teen Smoking: Study

Strong tobacco retail licensing rules may help reduce teens' use of regular and electronic cigarettes, according to a new study.

It included thousands of teens in southern California who were followed from the 11th and 12th grades until age 18. The areas where they lived where graded on their tobacco retail licensing rules.

"We found that youth living in areas with strong licensing requirements were less likely to begin using e-cigarettes and cigarettes during the one and a half year follow-up, on average, compared to youth who resided in areas with weaker regulations," study co-author Robert Urman, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, wrote in an email to CNN.

Compared to areas with weaker requirements, teen use of tobacco products was one-third to one-half lower in areas with the strongest licensing requirements, and teens in those areas were less likely to start or to have smoked cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

For example, teens in areas with the strongest licensing rules were 26 percent less likely to begin using e-cigarettes and 55 percent less likely to report e-cigarette initiation and use in the previous 30 days than those in areas with the weakest rules, CNN reported.

The study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

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