Health Highlights: May 13, 2019

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

Washington StateCould Be First to Offer Public Option Health Insurance

A bill to make Washington the first state to provide a universally available public option in the private health insurance market is expected be signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The program will offer a set of public plans which will cover standard services and may be up to 10% cheaper than comparable private insurance, the Associated Press reported.

Washington’s public plans will differ from existing government-managed plans in that they’ll be available to all residents regardless of income by 2021.

Public option measures have been proposed in at least eight other states, but none have passed such legislation, the AP reported.


Small Dogs From Iowa Breeder Have Disease That Can Be Passed to Humans

Several dogs from a small-dog breeding facility in Iowa have been confirmed to have a disease that can be passed to people, according to state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand.

“Canine brucellosis” affects only dogs and humans and is spread through reproductive fluids, said the Iowa Department of Public Health, USA Today reported.

“We are in the process of notifying the individuals who have custody of the exposed dogs,” the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said in a statement. “Both the animals and the facilities are quarantined while the dogs undergo clinical testing.”

In dogs, signs of the disease include infertility, spontaneous abortions and stillbirths. In people, symptoms include fever, sweats, headache, joint pain and weakness, the state health department said.

Kaisand advised people who recently acquired a small dog from Marion County to get their dog tested, USA Today reported.

“The threat to most pet owners is considered very low,” the state’s statement said. “Dog breeders, veterinary staff and anyone who comes in contact with blood, tissues and fluids during the birthing process may be at higher risk and should consult their primary care physician.”


Most on Cruise Ship Under Measles Quarantine Cleared to Leave

Most people aboard a Church of Scientology cruise ship under quarantine due to measles are now immune to the disease and can leave the ship, Curacao health officials say.

Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, an epidemiologist with the Curacao health department, said Saturday that 91% of those aboard the Freewinds had been found to be protected against measles, CNN reported.

“That means that they are not running a risk of contracting the disease and are no threat to transmit the disease to others. In other words, there is no reason to keep them on board. They are free to move,” Gerstenbluth said.

He explained that 199 of the 216 crew members and 91 of the 102 passengers had proof of vaccination or immunity demonstrated by sufficient levels of antibodies against measles, CNN reported.

However, some of those aboard were still isolation and three crew members and one passenger were being retested at a local laboratory, Gerstenbluth said. It’s likely the quarantine will be lifted on Monday, he added.

The Freewinds was quarantined after arriving at St. Lucia on April 30 with a female crew member who had the measles. The ship was allowed to return to its home port at the Curacao harbor on May 4, where it was placed under quarantine, CNN reported.