Health Highlights: Aug. 18, 2014

Health Highlights: Aug. 18, 2014

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

Cyber Attack Affects 4.5 Million Patients’ Data

About 4.5 million patients’ data was affected during a cyber attack in April and June that targeted Community Health Systems Inc., the rural hospital operator said Monday.

The attacker, believed to be based in China, bypassed Community Health System’s security measures and copied and transferred data outside the company, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The data — which was nonmedical patient identification information related to the company’s physician practice operations — includes patient names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and social security numbers. It does not include their credit card, medical or clinical information, according to Community Health.

The company said it is notifying affected patients and regulatory agencies, WSJ reported.


Liberia Ebola Clinic Attack Could Harm Efforts to Control Outbreak

An attack on an Ebola quarantine center in Liberia’s capital and the possible disappearance of a number of patients could be a major setback in efforts to contain and halt the outbreak of the deadly disease.

An angry mob ransacked the quarantine center in Monrovia Saturday evening and there are conflicting reports about what happened to the patients. Twenty-nine patients were moved to another medical facility, according to Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, BBC News reported.

However, Jina Moore, a journalist for Buzzfeed who is in Monrovia, told BBC News that 10 patients were taken away by relatives on Friday night and 17 patients escaped during Saturday’s attack on the quarantine center.

The protesters who attacked the quarantine center in Monrovia’s West Point township were upset that Ebola patients were being brought in from other parts of the capital, according to Nyenswah.

Other sources of information indicate that people in mob believed Ebola is a hoax and wanted the quarantine center shut down, BBC News reported.

Halting the spread of Ebola in Liberia is the key to ending the outbreak, according to experts. There are high levels of ignorance about the virus in the country and many people are hesitant about cooperating with health workers.

A senior police officer said that blood-stained mattresses, bedding and medical equipment were looted from the quarantine center, which could spread Ebola throughout the West Point area.

“This is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in my life,” he told BBC News. “All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients.”

As of Friday, the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was 1,145, with more than 400 deaths known to have occurred in Liberia. The outbreak began in Guinea in February and spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. So far, there have been 2,127 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization.


‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Boosts Donations to ALS Association

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” that’s sweeping social media has triggered a surge of donations to the ALS Association.

Between July 29 and Aug. 17, the association has received $13.3 million in donations, compared with $1.7 million during the same period last year. The group also said it had about 260,000 new donors, The New York Times reported.

It began when a video of 29-year-old ALS patient Pete Frates dumping a bucket of ice on his head was posted on Facebook. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) — also called Lou Gehrig’s disease — is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that eventually leads to total paralysis and death. It affects about 30,000 Americans.

After Frates’ video was posted, it prompted many others to make a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice on their heads and then challenging friends to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS. Many people do both, The Times reported.

Those taking part include celebrities and well-known business executives.