U.S. Women Infected After Surgery Abroad

At least 12 women from the United States contracted bacterial infections after undergoing breast enlargement surgery or other cosmetic procedures in the Dominican Republic, the government said yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the women developed soft tissue infections known as mycobacterium abscesses after traveling to Santo Domingo for procedures between May 2003 and February 2004. All have since recovered after being given antibiotics. Nine had to be hospitalized.

An increasing number of Americans are getting cosmetic surgery abroad because it is cheaper.

The CDC said that it has yet to establish the source of the infection but that previous outbreaks in other places have been attributed to contaminated surgical equipment.

Probe Photos Show Saturn Moon Damage

Saturn's moon, Phoebe, has been battered for billions of years by interplanetary debris, and the signs of past violence are clear in images snapped by a spacecraft headed for orbit around the ringed planet.

Looking at new pictures taken by the robotic Cassini space probe during a close pass by Phoebe, scientist Torrence Johnson said yesterday he saw "an extremely battered object."

"This thing's been hit by interplanetary debris for probably a couple of eons; that's a poetic way of saying several billion years," Johnson said in a telephone interview from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Phoebe probably was pulled into Saturn's orbit around the time the solar system formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, he said.

The latest images were snapped Friday when Cassini drew to within 1,285 miles of Phoebe. That is much closer than the last look taken by earthly instruments, a 1981 glimpse by the Voyager probe, which viewed Phoebe from 1.4 million miles away.

Cassini's pictures of Phoebe show a dark and lumpy body, "kind of like a golf ball with all the dimples really exaggerated," Johnson said.

Groups Advise Quick Action on Heart Attack

Aggressive new guidelines published yesterday call for quick treatment of a common form of heart attack marked by chest pain and shortness of breath.

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued guidelines for treating ST elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI, a severe heart attack in which an artery is completely blocked.

Although heart attack patients may be unsure about their symptoms and wait to call an ambulance, every minute counts with this heart attack, said Elliott Antman of Harvard Medical School and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"Treating this type of heart attack requires fast action, because if blood flow is not restored to the heart within 20 minutes, permanent damage will occur," Antman said.

"Speedy treatment not only means the difference between life and death, but also between disability and a return to an active lifestyle after a heart attack."

-- From News Services