Health Highlights: March 5, 2018

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

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Forty People in 27 States Sickened in Kratom-Linked Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Twelve more people have been sickened since Feb. 20 in a salmonella outbreak linked to kratom products, bringing the total to 40 people in 27 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an update.

Forty-five percent of the patients have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

The outbreak has been linked to kratom products but a common brand or supplier has not been pinpointed, the CDC said.

Kratom is a plant native to southeast Asia that's used as a stimulant and as an opioid substitute, and is typically brewed in a tea, chewed, smoked, or taken in capsules. Kratom also goes by the names Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketom, and Biak.

The CDC warned against taking kratom in any form because the source of the salmonella contamination has not been identified.

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U.S. Embassy Staff Cuts in Cuba Permanent Due to 'Health Attacks'

The withdrawal of 60 percent of U.S. diplomats from Cuba due to mysterious "health attacks" is permanent, the State Department says.

Last October, all non-essential U.S. embassy personnel and the families of all embassy staff were told to leave Havana due to unexplained illnesses that have harmed at least 24 Americans, the Associated Press reported.

However, regulations in such cases require the State Department to either return diplomats after six months or to make the staff reductions permanent. So the department announced a new, permanent staffing level of about two dozen people for the embassy in Havana.

That number is "the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions," according to the department.

It also said that the embassy in Havana will operate as an "unaccompanied post," meaning diplomats serving there will not be allowed to have their spouses or children live with them in Cuba, the AP reported.

"We still do not have definitive answers on the source or cause of the attacks, and an investigation into the attacks is ongoing," the department said.

Cuba says it was not involved in or has any knowledge of the attacks, the AP reported.

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Judge To Review Claims That Roundup a Cancer Risk

A U.S. federal judge will review claims that the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup poses a cancer risk.

In week-long hearings set to begin Monday in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria will hear from experts about whether there is scientific evidence to support the claims of more than 300 lawsuits that exposure to Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuits by cancer victims and their families were filed against Roundup maker Monsanto, Co., and allege that the company knew about the product's cancer risk but did not warn consumers.

At the hearing, Chharbria will decide whether to allow the plaintiffs' medical and scientific experts to testify to a jury that Roundup can cause cancer.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was developed by Monsanto in the 1970s. The weed killer is sold in more than 160 countries and is used by farmers in their fields and by homeowners on their lawns and gardens, the AP reported.

Monsanto also sells genetically modified seeds for crops that can tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate while surrounding weeds are killed.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer -- part of the World Health Organization -- classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen." California has added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer, the AP reported.

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Monsanto says hundreds of studies have concluded that glyphosate is safe.


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