Health Highlights: Sept. 25, 2020

By on September 25, 2020

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

Scientists Sequence Genome of Mold That Produced First Penicillin

The genome of the original mold that produced the first penicillin has been sequenced by scientists.

The world’s first antibiotic was accidentally discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming when mold contaminated one of his petri dishes, CNN reported.

“Remarkably, after all this time spent in the freezer, (the mold) grows back fairly readily. It is fairly easy, you just break it out of that tube and put it on a petri dish plate and away it goes,” said Tim Barraclough, a professor at the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London and the Department of Zoology at Oxford University.

This is the first time the genome of the mold has been sequenced, and the researchers said what they’ve learned could help efforts to combat antibiotic resistance, CNN reported.

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Wood Ear Mushrooms Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Recalled wood ear mushrooms imported by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and sold to restaurants may be linked to a multi-state salmonella outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

“Restaurants should not sell or serve recalled wood ear mushrooms distributed by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc., labeled as Shirakiku brand Black Fungus (Kikurage). Restaurants should immediately discard any of the recalled product,” Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response, said in an FDA news release.

“Wood ear mushrooms imported by Wismettac Asian Foods Inc. were only sold to restaurants and were not available directly to consumers,” Yiannas added.

The mushrooms were distributed in six packs of five-pound bags to restaurants in AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, and Canada.

“Concerned or high-risk individuals should check with their restaurant to confirm that any wood ear mushrooms that have been used or are being used are not part of this recall, and boiling water should be used anytime dried mushrooms are reconstituted,” Yiannas said.

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Two Health Care Executive Orders Announced by Trump

Two new health care executive orders were announced Thursday by President Donald Trump.

One protects pre-existing conditions and the other prevents surprise billing, but they’re likely to have little impact, according to NBC News.

Pre-existing conditions are already protected under the Affordable Care Act, which Trump is trying to dismantle, and the surprise billing order requires Congress to pass legislation.

Trump has repeatedly pledged a health care overhaul but hasn’t produced a solid alternative to the Affordable Care Act, which has become increasingly popular among Americans, NBC News reported.

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United First U.S. Airline to Offer COVID-19 Testing for Passengers

The first COVID-19 testing program for airline passengers in the United States will be introduced Oct. 15 by United Airlines.

Passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii can either order an at-home testing kit or reserve a time for a rapid test at the airport, CBS News reported.

The rapid test at San Francisco International Airport — already available to airport and airline employees — provides results in about 20 minutes and will cost $250.

The at-home kit will cost $80 plus shipping, will be sent to a San Francisco lab for processing, and passengers will have results within 48 hours, CBS News reported.

Hawaii has had restrictions on tourists since March. But starting next month, the state will waive its two-week quarantine rule for travelers who have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival.

United hopes to eventually expand testing options to other U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, CBS News reported.

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Chinese Company Says its Coronavirus Vaccine Should be Available in U.S. in Early 2021

A Chinese pharmaceutical company claims its coronavirus vaccine should available by early next year for distribution in the United States and other countries.

If it passes its final round of human tests, SinoVac will apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell the CoronaVac vaccine, company CEO Yin Weidong said Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Tight rules in the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines, but that could change, according to Yin.

“We are confident that our research of the COVI-19 vaccines can meet the standards of the U.S. and EU countries,” Yin said, the AP reported.

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