Health Highlights: Jan. 9, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008; 12:00 AM

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

3 People Dead After Drinking Listeria-Laden Milk From Mass.

Three elderly men have died and at least one pregnant woman has miscarried since last June after drinking bacteria-contaminated pasteurized milk from a dairy plant in Shrewsbury, Mass., theAssociated Pressreported.

All the victims were infected with listeria, which is supposed to be killed by pasteurization. This is believed to be only the third time listeria has been linked to pasteurized milk in the United States, said Dr. Alfred DeMaria, state director of communicable disease control.

Tests have found no problems with the pasteurization process at the Whittier Farms plant, so investigators have turned their attention to the cooling and bottling machinery.

"We know something is going on; we just don't know what it is," DeMaria told theAP. "We just need to find out how the bacteria is getting into the milk."

Listeria can cause serious illness or death in the elderly, newborns, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. It is more commonly found in raw vegetables and meat and in processed foods such as cold cuts and soft cheeses. According to health officials, about 2,500 serious listeriosis cases are reported in the United States every year, theAPsaid.


Nearly 1 Million Americans Treated for Shingles Annually

Each year, nearly 1 million Americans receive medical care for shingles or its complications, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Shingles is caused by infection with varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. But unlike chicken pox, shingles is not contagious. Shingles can result in burning or shooting pain, tingling or itching.

The AHRQ found that:

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