Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Asian longhorned tick spreading in U.S
The Asian longhorned tick has spread across nine states since it first appeared in the U.S. last year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New Jersey was the first state to report the tick, found on a sheep in August 2017, the study team writes in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Sierra Leone doctors strike over conditions, nurses may follow
Doctors in Sierra Leone's public hospitals were on strike on Wednesday to protest against low wages and poor working conditions, and nurses said they may follow suit. Sierra Leone is one of Africa's poorest countries and its public hospitals lack equipment. The 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic killed nearly 4000 people, including more than 250 medical staff.
CVS offers 'guaranteed net cost' for pharmacy benefit clients
Pharmacy chain and benefits manager CVS Health Corp on Wednesday said as of Jan. 1 it will offer a new prescription benefit option guaranteeing its health plan clients 100 percent of any rebates, discounts or other fees paid by drugmakers. The new plan model is aimed at providing greater drug cost simplicity, predictability and transparency, CVS said.
Smartphone app could screen for anemia
For people with chronic anemia who want to monitor their condition or those who just suspect they might be anemic, a fast answer could soon come from a smartphone selfie - of their fingernails, researchers say. An algorithm developed by researchers in Atlanta was able to accurately pick up signs of anemia just from the coloration of people's nailbeds, the team reports in Nature Communications.
Cost keeps many diabetics from taking needed insulin
The cost of insulin prevents many people with diabetes from taking it as directed, a small survey suggests. At the Yale Diabetes Center in New Haven, Connecticut, where the survey was conducted, one in four people using insulin reported taking less of it than doctors recommend because they can't afford it. These patients may have a higher risk of complications than individuals who always take their medicine, researchers say.
As long-distance races like half-marathons and full marathons become more popular, race organizers and medical directors should consider using online medical screening to identify risky runners and avert medical emergencies, researchers say. After a four-year trial of online pre-race screening and education of non-professional runners in South Africa, rates of overall medical encounters dropped by a third and serious life-threatening events dropped by two-thirds compared to the prior four years, the study team reports in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Showing people their own arteries might improve heart health
People who see vivid pictures of their own arteries getting clogged up with debris may be more likely to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle than individuals who don't see these images, a recent experiment suggests. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to preventing cardiovascular disease can be patients' inability to follow recommendations to do things like stop smoking, drink in moderation, exercise more regularly and eat well. For the current study, researchers randomly assigned 3,532 people with at least one risk factor for heart disease but no symptoms to get only usual care, such as lifestyle advice or medications, or to also receive pictures of their arteries and personalized tutorials on why the images might signal health problems ahead.
Vietnam steps up measures to prevent African swine fever
Vietnamese authorities on Wednesday conducted drills to prevent the spread of African swine fever should there be an outbreak of the disease in the country, as the risks of transmission from neighboring China increase. The highly contagious fever has killed around a million pigs worldwide and recently spread rapidly across China, which has reported 80 cases since early August.
Roche's Tecentriq wins speedy U.S. FDA review for small cell lung cancer
Swiss group Roche Holding AG said on Wednesday its Tecentriq immunotherapy mixed with chemotherapy won priority review from the U.S. regulator for treating a type of lung cancer, a potential boost to the drug that has been trailing rivals' revenues. The announcement comes after Roche in September said patients with untreated extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) lived a median 12.3 months after getting the Tecentriq cocktail, compared to 10.3 months for those getting chemotherapy alone.
AbbVie halts late-stage trial for lung cancer drug Rova-T
AbbVie Inc said on Wednesday it had halted enrollment for a late stage trial of Rova-T as a second-line therapy for advanced small-cell lung cancer, following recommendations made by an independent data monitoring committee. The committee's recommendations were based on shorter overall survival in the Rova-T arm, compared with the topotecan control arm, the company said.
(With inputs from Reuters)
(With inputs from agencies.)