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Health Highlights: Jan. 24, 2019

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

Gum Disease Bacteria Found in Brains of Alzheimer's Disease Patients

Gum disease bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer's disease, researchers say.

They studied dead and living patients with diagnosed and suspected Alzheimer's and found bacteria associated with chronic gum disease in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, BBC News reported.

Tests on mice confirmed the bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis could migrate from the mouth to the brain and that a toxic protein they secrete (gingipain) destroyed brain neurons.

The bacteria also boosted production of amyloid beta, a component of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's, BBC News reported.

Further tests on mice showed that drugs that block the toxic proteins produced by the bacteria stopped brain degeneration.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers said their findings could point to new ways to help people with Alzheimer's. Currently there is no cure or effective treatment, BBC News reported.

The team developed a new drug and plan to test it later this year in a clinical trial with patients who have mild to moderate Alzheimer's.

The study adds to evidence of a link between gum disease and dementia, but it's still not clear if gum disease bacteria actually trigger Alzheimer's, said scientists not involved in the study, BBC News reported.

Previous studies linking gum disease with dementia include one published last year that found that people with chronic gum disease for 10 years or more had a 70 percent higher risk of Alzheimer's than those without gum disease.


Gold Medal Flour Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Possible salmonella contamination has led to a U.S.-wide recall of five-pound bags of Gold Medal Unbleached Flour, General Mills says.

The company said the voluntary recall is restricted to bags with a "better if used by" date of April 20, 2020, CBS News reported.

The recall was issued after sampling of the five-pound bags revealed "the potential presence" of the bacteria, according to General Mills.

The company said the "recall is being issued out of an abundance of care as General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product," CBS News reported.

Consumers with the recalled flour should throw it out. For more information, call General Mills at 1-800-230-8103 or go to its website.


Measles a Public Health Emergency in 'Anti-Vax' Hotspot Near Portland, Ore.

An ongoing measles outbreak has led to a public health emergency being declared in Clark County, Washington.

The outbreak is in an anti-vaccination hotspot near Portland, Ore., according to CBS News.

The latest update from the county's health department said that 23 measles cases have been confirmed and two more suspected cases are under investigation, CBS News reported.

Most cases involve children aged 1 to 10. Four cases are in youngsters aged 11 to 18, and one case in a person between ages 19 and 29.

While measles is highly contagious, it's also one of the most preventable diseases, according to Dr. Jonathan Mou, at Adventist Health in Portland.

"Once it sets into a community, the likelihood of it getting beyond that community or more widespread within that community is high, especially when vaccination rates are low," Mou told CBS News.


Climate Change Could Alter Proportion of Male/Female Babies: Study

Climate change could alter the proportion of male and female babies, according to researchers.

They said more boys could be born in regions where temperatures rise and fewer boys born in areas with other climate change-caused environmental changes, such as droughts or wildfires, CNN reported.

A recent Japanese study found a connection between temperature fluctuations and a lower male-to-female sex ratio at birth, with conceptions of boys especially vulnerable to external stress factors, wrote study lead author Misao Fukuda, founder of the M&K Health Institute.

In a study published last summer, Fukuda and his colleagues found a decline in male babies born in Japan after earthquakes. Nine months after the earthquakes, the proportion of male babies born in affected areas were 6 percent to 14 percent lower than in the previous year, CNN reported.

Those findings supports the theory that major stress affects gestation, which in turn alters the newborn sex ratio, Fukuda and his co-authors wrote.

Stress stemming directly from "climate events caused by global warming" might also affect the sex ratio, Fukuda wrote in an email, CNN reported.


Nurse Arrested in Case Involving Incapacitated Woman Who Gave Birth

A male nurse has been arrested in an investigation launched after an incapacitated woman at a long-term care facility in Phoenix had a baby boy late last year.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, was a licensed practical nurse who looked after the woman. The licensed practical nurse was arrested on suspicion of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

"We owed this arrest to the victim. We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community -- that innocent baby," Williams said.

The 29-year-old victim has been in long-term care since the age of 3 and gave birth at the Hacienda HealthCare facility on Dec. 29. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant.

As part of their investigation, police tested the DNA of all the men who worked at the facility. Sutherland was charged after his DNA was found to match the baby's, said police spokesman Tommy Thompson, the AP reported.

The case prompted reviews by state agencies and put the spotlight on safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.

One doctor who had cared for the woman resigned and another had been suspended, Hacienda HealthCare said Sunday. The CEO of the company at the time of the birth resigned earlier this month.

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