Health Highlights: June 30, 2020

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

New Swine Flu Virus Poses Hypothetical Pandemic Risk

As the world grapples with the new coronavirus pandemic, researchers have discovered a new type of swine flu virus that can infect people and has the potential to cause a future pandemic.

The G4 virus is genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused a pandemic in 2009, CNN reported.

The Chinese scientists who discovered G4 said it shows “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” but added that it does not pose an immediate global health threat.

Their study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One expert said the public shouldn’t “freak out.”

“Our understanding of what is a potential pandemic influenza strain is limited,” Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University’s public health school, posted on Twitter, CNN reported.

“Sure, this virus meets a lot of the basic criteria but it’s not for sure going to cause a hypothetical 2020 flu pandemic, or even be a dominant strain in humans.”


Hundreds of U.S. Children Have Developed Dangerous Condition Associated With New Coronavirus

A rare, dangerous inflammatory condition associated with the new coronavirus occurred in at least 285 U.S. children by mid/late May, and the risk for long-lasting or permanent harm isn’t known, according to two new studies.

Researchers found that most of the 285 children who developed what’s known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome condition recovered, but six died, the Associated Press reported.

The studies — one a multi-state study and one that focused on New York — were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cases have occurred in at least 35 states, and they seem to appear within a few weeks after local COVID-19 activity peaks, according to Dr. Adrienne Randolph of Boston Children’s Hospital, lead researcher of one of the studies, the AP reported.

The studies found 285 cases from March until mid/late May, but more U.S. children have been diagnosed in June, Randolph said.

The average age of the children was 8 years, and most had current or recent COVID-19 infections, but most had no other health conditions. About 30% were obese, and Hispanic and Black children and boys appeared to be disproportionately affected, the AP reported.

The multi-state study found that about 80% of patients had heart-associated problems, including a potentially deadly bulge in a heart artery called a coronary aneurysm.

“Those need to be followed up,” Randolph said. “This is a life-threatening concern for a lot of patients.”

Multi-system inflammatory syndrome has affected about 1,000 children worldwide, according to a journal editorial.


Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Nuggets Recalled

About 59,800 pounds of frozen ready-to-eat chicken nuggets have been recalled by Pilgrim’s Pride because they may contain rubber material, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Monday.

The recall is for 4-lb. plastic bag packages of Pilgrim’s Fully Cooked Chicken Breast Nuggets, with a Best-By date of 06 MAY 2021 and lot code of 0127 printed on retail packages. Product cases have lot codes 0127105009, 0127105010, 0127105011, 0127105012, 0127105013, 0127105014, 0127105015, or 0127105016 printed on the box.

The products, which were shipped to stores in Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Texas, have the establishment number “P-20728” printed on individual retail packages as well as product cases.

No confirmed reports of injuries associated with the recalled chicken nuggets have been reported, according to FSIS.


New Breast Cancer Treatment Can be Given at Home: FDA

A breast cancer treatment that can be administered at home has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Phesgo, from Genentech Inc., is a combination of pertuzumab, trastuzumab and hyaluronidase that’s approved for injection under the skin to treat adults with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, and for treatment of adults with early HER2-positive breast cancer.

Phesgo is initially used in combination with chemotherapy and could continue to be given to a patient at home by a qualified health care professional after the patient completes chemotherapy.

“Currently, most patients with HER2-positive breast cancer receive trastuzumab and pertuzumab at infusion centers. With a new administration route, Phesgo offers an out-patient option for patients to receive trastuzumab and pertuzumab,” Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

Phesgo carries a boxed warning about the risk of heart failure, fetal harm and lung toxicity.

A study found that the most common side effects among patients taking Phesgo were hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, anemia (reduced number of red blood cells) and lack of energy. Phesgo can cause worsening of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (low level of white blood cells), according to the FDA.


U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Law

A Louisiana abortion law that could have left the state without an abortion clinic was struck down Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law was enacted in 2014 and required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, The New York Times reported.

The Supreme Court vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voting with the court’s four-member liberal wing. Roberts said respect for precedent compelled him to vote with the majority.

This was the first abortion case to be heard by the court since it shifted to the right with two of President Trump’s appointments, The Times reported.