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What Sen. John McCain is up against in cancer battle

July 20, 2017, 6:42 AM

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Traveling to Europe? Protect yourself from this preventable disease

Peak summer travel season is in full swing and government health officials are reminding those going abroad to take steps to protect themselves against measles amid outbreaks of the disease in some popular vacation spots.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 14,000 cases of measles have been reported in Europe since January 2016. In the past year, at least  35 children across the continent died from the disease , the World Health Organization recently reported.

The CDC is urging U.S. travelers to make sure they're vaccinated against measles infection, which could have potentially devastating consequences when returning home.

"Most measles cases in the United States are the result of international travel," said Dr. Gary Brunette, chief of CDC's travelers' health program, said in a statement. "Travelers get infected while abroad and bring the disease home. This can cause outbreaks here in the United States ."

So far in 2017, measles has been reported in 15 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The CDC has issued travel health notices for five countries in Europe with measles outbreaks since November 2016. The most recent notice was issued for France on July 7. The other countries are Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Romania.

The CDC recommends that anyone who isn't protected against measles — either through vaccination or because they had the infection earlier in life — get vaccinated, especially before international travel.

Earlier this year, a study found that more than half of U.S. travelers who should get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine before they go abroad are not getting the shot .

"Measles is incredibly contagious. Ninety percent of non-immune individuals will become ill with measles if they're exposed," Emily Hyle, M.D., an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of that study, told CBS News in May when it was published. "And that exposure can be as minimal as walking into a room up until two hours after somebody infected with measles has been there."

It's recommended that travelers see a health care professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before any international travel to allow time to complete a vaccine series and for the body to build up immunity.

Symptoms of measles include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Some people also experience an ear infection, diarrhea, or a serious lung infection such as pneumonia. In severe cases, measles can cause swelling of the brain and death, though this is rare.

"We worry about both immunocompromised patients and the very young," Hyle said. "Those are  people who can't get vaccinated . They're not able to take the live virus vaccine and then measles illness can be much more serious in those patients."

Any international travelers coming to the U.S. who think they may have measles should seek medical attention immediately; doctors say they should call ahead to advise

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Official sounds alarm over possible lead in tap water

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans inspector general says the city hasn't adequately warned residents that ongoing street repairs and water system improvements could result in temporarily high lead levels in some buildings' tap water.

Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux's latest report says some old city water lines - and lines on private properties - are made of lead, which can affect the brain and nervous system when ingested. Chemicals added to the water form a protective coating in those pipes. But Quatrevaux cites experts who say disturbance of the aging lines can jar some of the coating loose and allow lead to contaminate the water.

Citing $2.4 billion in planned New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure projects as well as numerous past water system and street projects Quatrevaux raises the possibility that individual homes or businesses might see spikes in lead levels in drinking water.

"New Orleans residents living where infrastructure construction projects occur may be - or may have been - unknowingly exposed to elevated levels of lead in drinking water," the report said.

In a statement emailed Thursday, the city Sewerage and Water Board stressed its compliance with all state and federal laws and said the city's water is safe. It outlined its existing policies for educating customers by way of social media, direct mail and email about risks of lead exposure.

"There's no amount of education in this issue that's enough, and we're going to continue to do everything we can to keep the community informed," Executive Director Cedric Grant told CBS affiliate WWL-TV , "but I can tell you as we sit here today the water is safe, the water is in compliance with state and federal law."

The board's website offers information on water quality and tips to reduce lead in drinking water, posted in response to customer queries after the 2015 water crisis in Flint, Michigan . There, lead was discovered in the drinking water after the city began tapping Flint River water as a source. The river water was not properly treated, leading to lead leaching from old pipes and fixtures.

"The City and S&WB have taken proactive steps to inform residents of the potential for increased exposure to lead in water caused by partial replacement or disturbance of LSLs (lead service lines), as well as the steps the public should take to reduce the impacts of that temporary elevated lead exposure," the board's statement said.

Quatrevaux's report says the city's past efforts lacked a sense of urgency. He cited the board's 2015 report touring upcoming infrastructure improvements that had scant mention of the possibility that the work could cause a spike in lead levels.

Meanwhile, the city says it's taking steps to reduce the long term danger of lead pipes.

Because lead lines were an industry standard until the dangers of lead became known in the 1970s, the city has no special inventory of where its lead supply lines exist. The board said it began taking an inventory of its approximately

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Senate GOP eyes Tuesday for health care vote, but exact plan up in the air

Senate GOP leaders are eyeing Tuesday for a health care vote, but no one knows yet which proposal will be voted on.

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For first time, most people with HIV taking meds

LONDON -- For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries.

Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.

"When you think about the money that's been spent on AIDS , it could have been better," said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London.

She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries.

"The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down," Harman said, warning that some countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own.

The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October.

According to the report, about 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year.

UNAIDS also said there were about 36.7 million people with HIV in 2016, up slightly from 36.1 million the year before.

In the report's introduction, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS' executive director, said more and more countries are starting treatment as early as possible, in line with scientific findings that the approach keeps people healthy and helps prevent new infections. Studies show that people whose virus is under control are far less likely to pass it on to an uninfected sex partner.

"Our quest to end AIDS has only just begun," he wrote.

The report notes that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV , the virus that causes AIDS, now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies. It also said five hard-hit African countries now provide lifelong AIDS drugs to 95 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding women with the virus.

"For more than 35 years, the world has grappled with an AIDS epidemic that has claimed an estimated 35 million lives," the report said. "Today, the United Nations General Assembly has a shared vision to consign AIDS to the history books."

The death toll from AIDS has dropped dramatically in recent years as the wide availability of affordable, life-saving drugs has made the illness a manageable disease. But Harman said that "Ending AIDS" - the report's title - was unrealistic.

"I can see why they do it, because it's bold and no one would ever disagree with the idea of ending AIDS, but I think we should be pragmatic," she said. "I don't think we will ever eliminate AIDS ,

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