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Health Highlights: Dec. 18, 2013

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

Chinese Woman Killed by Bird Flu Strain New to Humans

A Chinese woman has died from a bird flu strain that has never before affected humans, and the World Health Organization called the case "worrisome."

The 73-year-old woman in the city of Nanchang was infected with the H10N8 bird flu virus and died Dec. 6, health officials said. They added that she had been in contact with live poultry and had underlying health problems that weakened her immunity, the Associated Press reported.

The H10N8 virus has not previously been found in people. WHO and Chinese officials are working to learn more about the virus, according to Timothy O'Leary, spokesman for the WHO's regional office in Manila.

He said the source of the virus in this case remains unknown, but birds are known to carry it and it wouldn't be surprising if there is another case of a person infected with H10N8.

"It's worrisome any time a disease jumps the species barrier from animals to humans. That said, the case is under investigation and there's no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet," O'Leary told the AP.

This is the second new bird flu strain to appear in humans this year in China. An outbreak of H7N9 bird flu that began in late March infected 140 people and killed 45.

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Pesticides Tied to Bee Deaths May Also Harm Humans: EU Officials

A newer class of pesticides linked to the deaths of large numbers of honey bees might also pose a threat to human health and should be more tightly controlled, European Union food regulators say.

They recommended that the European Commission further restrict the use of nicotine-derived neonicotinoids. Earlier this year, the commission temporarily banned the use of some of these pesticides on many flowering crops in Europe that attract honey bees, The New York Times reported.

The food regulators now say these pesticides may affect the developing nervous system of children, and were safe to use only in smaller amounts than currently allowed.

One of the most popular of this class of pesticides is called imidacloprid, which was developed by Bayer and is the active ingredient in products such as Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control. It can be bought at stores in many countries, including Home Depot in the United States, The Times reported.

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Colorado Meat Company Expands Recall

A Colorado meat company is expanding a recall of meat and poultry products that were produced in unsanitary conditions that included rodent activity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

The products in the expanded recall have the establishment number "Est. 20309" inside the USDA Mark of Inspection and include "Old Style Sausage" brand smoked Kielbasa sausage, "Old Style Sausage" brand smoked andouille sausage and "Corner Post Meats" brand hams and bacon, the Associated Press reported.

All of the recalled products from Yauk's Specialty Meats in Windsor are in retail-ready packages of various sizes and were produced between April 1, 2013 and Dec. 5, 2013. They were sold in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

No illnesses have been reported and the USDA's investigation is continuing, the AP said.

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Doctors Keep Man's Severed Hand Alive by Attaching it to Ankle

A man's severed hand was saved by grafting it to his ankle, Chinese doctors say.

It wasn't possible to reattach Xiao Wei's right hand to his arm immediately after he lost the hand in a work accident. Instead, doctors kept the hand alive by stitching it onto Wei's left ankle and using arteries in the leg to supply the hand with blood, BBC News reported.

A month later, the hand was removed from the ankle and reattached to the arm. Wei will have to undergo several more operations but doctors say they're hopeful that he will regain full function of his hand.

"His injury was severe. Besides ripping injuries, his arm was also flattened," the surgeons said, BBC News reported. "We had to clear and treat his injuries before taking on the hand reattachment surgery."

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