Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. states reject $18 billion proposal to settle opioid lawsuits, discussions ongoing: sources

Twenty one states have rejected an $18 billion settlement proposal from three major U.S. drug distributors to resolve lawsuits over their alleged role in the opioid crisis, but discussion are still active, according to three sources familiar with the matter. More than 2,500 lawsuits have been brought nationwide by states, local and tribal governments over the toll the opioid crisis has taken on their communities.

Patients often puzzled by medical test reports

Even the most educated, take-charge individuals may have a hard time deciphering the test results they can access after a doctor visit, two new studies suggest. "The benefits of improving patient access to their own medical information are fairly clear: patient empowerment and engagement in their own health care, and an improved trust and sense of partnership with their healthcare provider," Dr. Daniel Miller, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told Reuters Health by email.

WHO says joint China mission to start coronavirus probe this weekend

A World Health Organization-led mission to China will start its outbreak investigation this weekend and will focus on how the new coronavirus is spreading and the severity of the disease, the WHO's director-general said on Friday. The joint team, composed of 12 international members and their 12 Chinese counterparts, will seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 health workers infected so far contracted the new virus, WHO officials said.

Getting lots of exercise tied to lower risk of kidney disease

People who get plenty of physical activity may be less likely than their more sedentary counterparts to develop chronic kidney disease, a recent study suggests. Researchers followed almost 200,000 Taiwanese adults without kidney disease for up to 18 years. Compared to people who were least active, those who got the most exercise were 9% less likely to develop kidney disease over the study period.

China sees 2,641 new coronavirus cases, 143 deaths, as it struggles to slow spread

More than 2,600 new cases were confirmed from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, health officials said on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days. The total of confirmed infections across mainland China was now 66,492 after 2,641 new cases were confirmed, as of Friday, the National Health Commission said.

Deaths from dengue fever in Paraguay spike to 16 under strained health system

Paraguay health officials said on Friday that deaths from dengue fever increased to 16 in the South American country's worst outbreak of the disease in the last decade, severely straining its health system. There are also 89 deaths under review to determine if they were caused by dengue. The death toll indicates a sharp increase from the previous week, when the Public Health Ministry registered six deaths from dengue with 50 other deaths under review since the start of the year.

Biotech firm Novacyt to launch coronavirus test next week

Biotechnology company Novacyt said on Friday it would launch a certified test for the coronavirus next week, sending its London-listed shares to a record high. The company said last week that it had applied for U.S. regulatory approval for the test.

U.S. CDC to work with labs in five states to track people with influenza-like illness

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday it was working with public health laboratories in five states to track people with illnesses similar to influenza, as the agency strives to contain the deadly coronavirus. The agency said the labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City will test those people for coronavirus who tested negative for the flu.

Mining, extraction industries still have highest U.S. suicide rate

Suicide rates vary across industries and occupations, but workers in mining and oil and gas extraction continue to suffer the top U.S. rate of deaths, followed closely by the construction industry, according to data from 32 states. Nearly 38,000 working-age Americans died by suicide in 2017, raising the overall national suicide rate to 18 deaths per 100,000 people from 12.9 in 2000, the study team notes. In 2016, though, the new analysis found suicide rates among men in mining and extraction industries to be at 54.2 per 100,000 and at 45.3 per 100,000 in construction.

In China's coronavirus epicenter, volunteers keep stricken city moving

A day after the city government of Wuhan locked down all of its public transportation to keep the coronavirus outbreak that began in the city from spreading further, three nurses found themselves stranded outside Hankou train station. They had returned early from the Lunar New Year holiday to go back to work at Tongji hospital, just five kilometers away, but laden with luggage and food from concerned relatives, they had no way to reach there.