Health Highlights: Dec. 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007; 12:00 AM

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

Bush Signs Extension of Child Health-Care Program Into Law

President Bush on Saturday signed legislation that would extend a controversial children's health insurance program, after twice denying attempts to expand its reach.

The extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) should provide states with funds to cover those enrolled through March 2009, theAssociated Pressreported. Bush and Republican legislators contend the program will cover families that currently fall into a coverage gap -- earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance.

But Democrats, with the support of some Republican legislators, were pushing hard for an expansion of the program to cover an estimated four million more children, theAPsaid. Their proposal, which would have added $35 billion to SCHIP coffers, was to have been paid for by an increase in the tobacco tax.

But Bush claimed that the Democrats' plan ignored the nation's neediest children. He also objected to the tax increase and what he described as a move toward more government-funded health care.

The current program covers about 6 million children, but Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday said her party won't stop "until 10 million children receive the health-care coverage they deserve."

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FDA Warns of Norovirus in Louisiana Oysters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to avoid eating raw oysters harvested from the West Karako Bay area of Louisiana between Dec. 3 and 21 because they may carry a potentially deadly pathogen called norovirus.

"FDA has received reports of norovirus infection in seven individuals who ate raw oysters on Dec. 13 at a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn.," the agency said in a statement released Saturday. "Test results from two of the ill patients were positive for norovirus," they add, and tests of oysters harvested from West Karako Bay and served at the restaurant also tested positive for the virus.

Norovirus infection presents with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, along with fatigue, fever, chills, and headache. The illness usually passes within 48 hours but can be serious for the very young, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.


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