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More evidence for Zika virus link to damage beyond microcephaly

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) – The mosquito-borne Zika virus can lead to extensive birth defects that go beyond microcephaly, a Brazilian study suggests. Researchers studied 11 babies diagnosed with Zika and found they had a range of neurological impairments including small skulls and brains as well as an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor skills, and an absence of normal folds in the cerebral cortex, the gray matter that handles memory, language, social skills and problem solving. “Microcephaly is not the only thing that happens with fetal Zika infection,” said senior study author Dr. Amilcar Tanuri, a researcher in the laboratory of molecular virology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

How to get sick on the U.S. campaign trail: Little sleep, bad food, germs everywhere

By Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton's bout of pneumonia has shed light on a problem seldom seen by American voters: The long days, little sleep, cross-country travel, bad food and kissing babies add up to a recipe for illness for presidential candidates and aides. Brooke Buchanan, former press secretary to 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, remembers leaving the campaign trail in Beaufort, South Carolina to visit an emergency room. “I was back on the road the next day, full of antibiotics.” Supporters of Clinton, who will face Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election, worried on Monday that the Democratic presidential nominee's medical scare would fuel conspiracy theories about her health.

Stretching may ease women’s depression and menopause symptoms

(This June 30th story was refiled to fix link at the bottom of the story) By Reyna Gobel (Reuters Health) – Stretching just 10 minutes a day might help ease menopause and depression symptoms in middle-aged women, a small study suggests. “Light-intensity exercises such as stretching have not been previously evaluated for its impact on menopausal and depressive symptoms,” lead researcher Yuko Kai told Reuters Health by email. Forty Japanese women, ages 40 to 61 years, participated in the study at the Physical Fitness Research Institute, Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare in Tokyo.

Guinea-Bissau records first three cases of Zika

Guinea-Bissau has recorded three cases of Zika, becoming the second country in West Africa where the dangerous viral disease has been detected, the government said on Saturday. “Three cases of contamination by Zika virus have been confirmed,” a statement quoted Health Minister Domingos Malu as saying. The cases occurred in the Bijagos archipelago, a group of 88 islands of which 23 are inhabited, Malu told a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Pace becomes first women’s golfer to opt out of Rio

(Reuters) – South African Lee-Anne Pace, citing Zika concerns, became the first women's golfer to withdraw from the 2016 Rio Olympics on Wednesday, joining a growing exodus on the men's side that includes the world's top-ranked player. Pace, a nine-times winner on the Ladies European Tour who is ranked 38th in the world, said she was eager to represent South Africa at the Aug 5-21 Olympics but felt Zika was too big a risk to take. “After weighing up all the options and discussing it with my family and team, I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus, I will not be participating,” Pace, 35, said in a statement.

U.S. to help fund technology to eliminate Zika in blood supply

(Reuters) – The U.S. government said on Monday it has agreed to help fund two pathogen reduction technologies to help reduce the risk of Zika virus and other infections from being transmitted through the blood supply. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the funding will flow through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) unit, which will provide initial funding of $30.8 million to Cerus Corp and $17.5 million to the U.S. division of Japan's Terumo Corp. Cerus's Intercept technology has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce pathogens in platelets and plasma. It is conducting a trial to show it can also reduce pathogens in red blood cells.

U.S. court to weigh lawmakers’ immunity in trading investigations

A federal appeals court will consider on Monday whether a U.S. congressional committee and one of its former staff are immune from having to cooperate with an insider-trading investigation. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals plans to hear arguments on enforcing two subpoenas that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent to Congress as part of its investigation. The SEC is investigating the trading of Humana Inc stock in 2013 ahead of a government announcement about physician reimbursement rates, which affect the revenue of Humana and other health insurers.

Anthem CEO expects U.S. regulatory decision in July

By Caroline Humer NEW YORK (Reuters) – Anthem Inc Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish said on Tuesday the health insurer was pushing for approval from antitrust regulators reviewing its $51 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp and expects to hear a decision in July. Anthem's bid for Cigna followed closely after Aetna Inc's proposed $34 billion purchase of Humana Inc last July. Swedish said antitrust regulators have asked many questions about how it and Cigna manage healthcare benefits for large employers, but that the overall review was moving forward as expected.

White House urges Congress to move on Zika funding

By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two senior Obama administration officials wrote congressional leaders on Tuesday to urge legislation be passed to fund the fight against the Zika virus, as concerns mount the United States will soon face locally transmitted cases of the disease. U.S. health officials concluded this month that the virus, spreading rapidly in the Americas, was a cause of microcephaly, a rare birth defect defined by unusually small head size that can hamper development. Zika is also linked to other health problems.

Teens most drawn to e-cigarettes by online ads

To see which e-cigarette ad formats were most persuasive to teens, researchers analyzed data from a recent nationwide survey of about 22,000 middle school and high school students from grades 6 through 12, when youth are typically about 12 to 18 years old. When middle school kids said they routinely viewed e-cigarette ads online, they were almost three times more likely to use the devices than their peers who never saw ads. “E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes used to sell cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products, such as independence, rebellion and sex,” said lead study author Dr. Tushar Singh of the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.