Health Highlights: Feb. 13, 2013

By on February 13, 2013

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

Mysterious SARS-like Virus May Spread Between People

Health officials in Great Britain say that a coronavirus linked to the SARS virus may be able to be passed person-to-person.

The British Health Protection Agency also reported the world’s 11th case of infection with the virus, prior cases of which had been mainly restricted to the Middle East. The agency believes the latest person to be infected probably caught it from a family member, the Associated Press reported.

The latest patient is a U.K. resident who had close personal contact with an earlier case but who had not traveled to the Middle East. The patient, who may have been especially vulnerable due to an underlying health issue, is being treated at a Birmingham hospital.

“Although this case provides strong evidence for person-to-person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low,” John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency, said in a statement. “If (the) novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases.”

The World Health Organization believes that human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus may have occurred before. Of the 11 cases on record, five people have died, the AP reported.

Coronaviruses comprise germs that can cause a wide variety of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold and SARS. The 2003 SARS outbreak killed more than 800 people worldwide.


Carbonated Malt Beverage Must List Alcohol Content on Can: FTC

The maker of a carbonated alcoholic drink that is popular on college campuses will now be required to disclose exactly how much alcohol is in each container, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

The new labeling is part of a settlement over deceptive marketing charges that were filed by the FTC against Phusion Products and its “Four Loko” drinks, the Associated Press reported.

The Chicago-based company will have to put the new labeling on its flavored malt beverages that contain more than two servings of alcohol per container. And it will have to redesign the containers that contain more than 2 servings of alcohol in a way that will allow the container to be resealed so some of the drink can be saved for later consumption, the wire service reported.

The FTC had claimed that the company suggested in advertising that its 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko was equal to two beers when the cans were really equal to four or five beers, according to the AP.

“We share a common interest with the FTC in providing consumers with information and packaging options to help them make informed, responsible decisions,” company co-founder Jaisen Freeman said in a statement.

In 2010, several college students in New Jersey and Washington state were hospitalized in connection with drinking Four Loko drinks, which also had caffeine in them at the time. The company has since removed caffeine from its Four Loko products, but it kept the high amounts of alcohol, the AP said.


Heart Attack Grill ‘Spokesman’ Dies of Heart Attack

An unofficial spokesman of the Las Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill — home to “Flatliner Fries” and a nearly 10,000-calorie burger — collapsed with a fatal heart attack last week while waiting for a bus outside the restaurant, the Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.

John Alleman, 52, was taken to a hospital where he was removed from life support on Monday, according to Heart Attack Grill owner Jon Basso.

Basso said Alleman became a frequent patron and booster for the restaurant, which has a medical theme to its menu, including offerings such as the 9,982-calorie, 3-pound Quadruple Bypass Burger.

Alleman, who worked security at a construction site, could often be found many days standing outside the restaurant’s doors, urging passersby to eat there, the Sun said.

While not on the Heart Attack Grill’s payroll, Alleman became such a fixture that his “Patient John” caricature is on the menu and restaurant merchandise.

Alleman isn’t the first patron to suffer heart trouble after eating at the high-calorie restaurant. In 2012 a man had what was believed to be a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger, and two months later a woman had a similar health crisis while eating a Double Bypass Burger, the Sun said.

Basso called Alleman’s death a “wake-up call” but said it wouldn’t alter the restaurant’s menu. “(Alleman’s death) isn’t going to stop us from what we’re doing. People have got to live their lives,” he told the Sun.

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