Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Czech Republic reports first H5N8 bird flu case in three years

The Czech Republic has its first case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus in three years after an outbreak was reported on a poultry farm in the country's central region, the State Veterinary Administration said on Saturday. The veterinary agency said the virus killed half of a flock of 12 hens, which was confirmed by tests, and that it had taken precautionary measures immediately.

Judge slashes $8 billion Risperdal award against Johnson & Johnson to $6.8 million

A Pennsylvania judge on Friday slashed to $6.8 million from $8 billion a punitive damages award against Johnson & Johnson to a man who said it failed to warn that boys using its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could grow breasts. Judge Kenneth Powell of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas reduced the payout that a jury awarded Oct. 8 to the plaintiff Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident.

China reports new virus cases, raising concern globally before key holiday

China reported four more cases of pneumonia believed to be caused by a new coronavirus strain, causing rising concern globally that a disease health officials do not yet fully understand could spread during a key holiday period. The new virus, which was discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, belongs in the same large family of coronaviruses that includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.

Paraguay braces for deadly Dengue fever outbreak

Paraguay is bracing for a potential major epidemic of Dengue fever after recording close to 7,000 suspected cases in the first two weeks of 2020, similar to levels in the severe 2013 outbreak that led to 250 deaths. Health authorities in the landlocked South American nation are also investigating 10 deaths potentially linked to Dengue, after confirming that a 68-year-old man had died from the disease, which causes high fever and joint pain.

Fish oil supplements tied to improved male fertility

Men who consume fish oil supplements, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, might get a boost in fertility, a new study suggests. After examining data from nearly 1,700 young men, researchers determined that fish oil supplement consumption was associated with a higher sperm count, larger testes and improved levels of hormones that contribute to male fertility, according to the report published in JAMA Network Open.

Supreme Court to hear Trump appeal in Obamacare contraception fight

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took up an appeal by President Donald Trump's administration seeking to enforce new federal rules allowing employers to obtain religious exemptions from an Obamacare requirement that health insurance that they provide to employees pays for women's birth control. At issue is a challenge by the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the administration's 2018 rule that permits broad religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate and expands accommodations already allowed under the 2010 law dubbed Obamacare. The administration has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a nationwide injunction issued by a lower court blocking the rule from taking effect.

Early, heavy marijuana use linked to worse driving performance

Heavy marijuana users who picked up the habit before age 16 have impaired driving skills even when they're not high, a small study suggests. But chronic cannabis consumption starting later in life was not associated with worse performance behind the wheel, Dr. Staci A. Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and her colleagues found.

U.S. to screen passengers for new China coronavirus at three airports

The United States will begin screening efforts at three U.S. airports to detect travelers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan who may have symptoms of a new respiratory virus that so far has killed two people and infected 45 more, public health officials said on Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the screening at the San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles airports would begin on Friday and focus on travelers to the United States via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan.

Virus casts shadow over China's biggest festival, but little worry at epicenter

Health authorities are concerned that a virus originating in central China could spread when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel during next week's lunar new year festival, but residents said there were was little anxiety in the city at the epicenter. Chinese officials are cracking down on those who spread news about the disease online, some people said.

Despite U.S. law, many clinical trial results go unreported

Fewer than half of clinical trial sponsors reported their results to a U.S. government registry within a year of the trial's completion, flouting U.S. law and risking fines, British researchers reported on Friday. The study, published in The Lancet, found that in spite of legal efforts to curb well-documented lapses in reporting of negative trial results, many sponsors are still not reporting their findings, potentially keeping patients and doctors in the dark about benefits and side effects of treatments.

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