Health Highlights: Oct. 29, 2019

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

Vaccine Might Help Prevent Active TB in Those Infected

In what could be a breakthrough against a centuries-old killer, scientists say they’ve had early success with a vaccine tied at preventing active tuberculosis in infected adults.

The experimental vaccine was tested in Africa and proved 50% effective in preventing the emergence of active disease in people infected with the TB bacteria, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline said in a news release.

A vaccine against TB already exists, but it’s typically only given to children and is used only to curb the worst complications of the pulmonary disease. Researchers have long sought a vaccine that could be used in adults to help curb the spread of the illness.

While largely eradicated from the United States, TB remains a global scourge, killing about 1.5 million people worldwide in 2018, GSK said. Also, nearly one in every four people around the globe has latent tuberculosis infection — meaning they could someday develop active disease.

But the new vaccine seemed to help keep active disease at bay for at least three years, the new study of almost 3,600 adults found.

“These results demonstrate that for the first time in almost a century, the global community potentially has a new tool to help provide protection against TB,” Dr. Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer at GSK, said in the news release.

The findings were presented Monday at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India. They were also published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Facebook Launches Preventive Health Tool

A new tool designed to help guide preventive care for heart disease, cancer and seasonal flu was launched in the United States Monday by Facebook.

The Preventive Health tool — which is accessed by either searching for it on Facebook or clicking on a promotion that pops up — was created in partnership with the American Cancer Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported.

The tool makes recommendations based on your age and sex. After receiving your personalized recommendations, you can choose to get more information, mark recommendations as completed, or set reminders to get suggested tests.

Most of the preventive measures are covered by insurance, but the feature also provides a map of federally qualified health care centers in underserved areas across the U.S. that provide services regardless of patients’ ability to pay, CNN reported.

In terms of flu, the tool offers a way to find where flu shots are being offered, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and urgent care clinics.

Personal information isn’t shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, Dr. Freddy Abnousi, head of healthcare research at Facebook, told CNN.

Eventually, the Preventive Health tool could be expanded to other countries and include more resources on preventive care outside of heart health, cancer and seasonal flu.

“We’re going to spend the next six to 12 months really trying to understand whether people are engaging with this tool and whether it’s helpful or not,” he said. “Once we figure that out is when we’re going to start thinking about expansion,” Abnousi told CNN.