Health Highlights: Nov. 22, 2017

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

Parasite May Threaten Lives of Hundreds of Vietnam War Veterans

A tropical parasite may be slowly killing hundreds of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War.

Early this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs commissioned a small pilot study to investigate the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma, the Associated Press reported.

Symptoms can take decades to appear and by the time they do, many patients are in extreme pain and only a few months to live.

Of the 50 blood samples from Vietnam veterans submitted for the study, more than 20 percent came back positive or near-positive for liver fluke antibodies, the AP reported.

“It was surprising,” said Sung-Tae Hong, the tropical medicine specialist who conducted the tests at Seoul National University in South Korea.

He noted that these are preliminary findings that could include false positives and that the research is continuing, the AP reported.

The blood samples were collected at the Northport VA Medical Center in New York. Everyone who tested positive was notified, said center spokesman Christopher Goodman.

The parasites are rarely found in Americans, but infect an estimated 25 million people worldwide. Early treatment with medication kills the parasites. Left untreated, the parasites can survive for decades in a person without causing any symptoms.

Last year, the AP reported that about 700 veterans with cholangiocarcinoma have been seen by the VA in the past 15 years.

A warning posted on the VA website this year says veterans who ate raw or undercooked freshwater fish while in Vietnam might be at risk. But it did not advise them to get tested because there is currently no evidence that Vietnam vets had higher infection rates than the general population, the AP reported.

“We are taking this seriously,” said Curt Cashour, a spokesman with the Department of Veterans Affairs. “But until further research, a recommendation cannot be made either way.”


David Cassidy Dead at Age 67

Former teen heartthrob David Cassidy died Tuesday at age 67.

The musician and actor — who rose to fame on the 1970s television show The Partridge Family — had been reported to be in a Florida hospital suffering from multiple organ failure, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy,” his rep, JoAnn Geffen, said in a statement.

“David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

In February, Cassidy announced that he had dementia and would no longer give concerts.

In the decades after The Partridge Family, Cassidy struggled with a number of personal problems such as substance abuse, drunk driving charges and bankruptcy, according to the Reporter.