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Hong Kong Declares Scarlet Fever Outbreak

Hong Kong has declared an outbreak of scarlet fever, an illness potentially fatal among children, after hundreds were infected in the teeming city, the government said Tuesday.

A seven-year-old girl in the southern Chinese city died late last month while there have been more than 400 cases so far this year, a Centre for Health Protection spokesman told Agence France Presse Tuesday.

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Scientists Study 'Hammock' Effect on Sleep

A team of Swiss and French scientists published a study on Monday that suggests the rocking motion of a hammock improves sleep quality and helps people get to sleep faster.

The study included 12 male volunteers who were not habitual nappers but who agreed to try an afternoon snooze on both a stationary bed and a rocking bed while machines scanned their brains, eye and muscle movements.

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Pfizer Anti-Smoking Drug Has Heart Risks

U.S. regulators said Thursday that the label on Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix must be changed to warn of a slightly higher risk of heart problems in patients who already have cardiovascular disease.

The drug, also known as varenicline, was shown in a clinical trial of 700 smokers to be associated with an elevated risk of heart attack, angina, and clogged arteries in some patients when compared to a placebo.

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Health Board Says Denmark Sees Doubling of Chlamydia Cases

Denmark has registered a doubling of cases of the venereal disease chlamydia over the past decade, Danish health officials said Thursday, saying the rise was very worrying.

"In 2000 there were 15,000 registered cases (of chlamydia), and in 2009 the number had increased to 30,000," a report published by Denmark's National Board of Health said, adding that in addition, "we think that one in 10 sexually active young people have the disease without knowing."

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French Children Hospitalised by E. Coli Burgers

Six children were hospitalised in France with E. coli infections after eating meat that manufacturers said could come from Germany, where an outbreak of the bacteria has killed 38 people.

The children, the youngest of whom is 20 months old, had eaten defrosted hamburgers made by the French company SEB which said the meat was taken from animals slaughtered in three European countries and processed in France.

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Study Shows Olive Oil Could Lower Stroke Risk

Older people who eat olive oil have a lower risk of stroke than those who do not, suggested a study of more than 7,000 French people that was published Wednesday in the United States.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux, France followed 7,625 people age 65 and older from three cities -- Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier -- for a period of five years.

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HRW Says Lead-Poisoned Chinese Children Denied Care

Chinese officials in provinces with heavy industrial pollution are restricting access to lead testing or even falsifying test results, and denying children treatment, a U.S. rights group said Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch accused officials in four provinces -- Henan, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Hunan -- of trying to cover up the extent of lead poisoning among local children, including limiting their access to blood tests.

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Could Prenatal DNA Testing Open Pandora's Box?

Imagine being pregnant and taking a simple blood test that lays bare the DNA of your fetus. And suppose that DNA could reveal not only medical conditions such as Down syndrome, but also things like eye color and height. And the risk for developing depression or Alzheimer's disease. And the chances of being homosexual.

So far that remains science fiction. But scientists have been taking some baby steps in that direction. And some ethics experts say it is time to start talking now about what that could mean for parents and society.

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Hajj Hassan: Lebanon Veggies Safe, EU Import Ban to Be Lifted Monday

Lebanon will on Monday lift a ban on the import of vegetables from Europe imposed in the wake of the recent deadly E. coli outbreak, caretaker Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan announced Sunday.

Hajj Hassan reassured consumers about the safety of vegetables in Lebanon, noting that vegetables “are subjected to laboratory tests on a periodic basis.”

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Germany: Sprouts Did Cause Deadly E. Coli Outbreak

German vegetable sprouts caused the E. coli outbreak that has killed 29 people and sickened nearly 3,000, investigators announced Friday after tracking the bacteria from patients in hospital beds to restaurants and then farm fields.

Reinhard Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease control center, said the pattern of the outbreak had produced enough evidence to draw that conclusion even though no tests of sprouts from an organic farm in Lower Saxony had come back positive for the E. coli strain behind the outbreak.

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