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Health & Parenting

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WebMD's 10 Top Health Stories of 2007

Recalled Toys, Unsafe Food, Bad Bugs, New Stem Cell Source Top List


In midsummer 2007 came the shocking news that 46 out of every 1,000 U.S. hospital patients came down with MRSA -- a rate 11 times higher than previously suspected.

But the most alarming MRSA news is about a second mutant strain on the loose in our communities. It's a problem that's been building for years. But what caught everyone's eye was that annual MRSA deaths now exceed annual AIDS deaths.

Where are you most likely to find MRSA in your community? The surprising answer: your nose. What do you need to know about MRSA? Check the WebMD MRSA FAQ.

The second scary bug of 2007 was a mutant killer cold virus, a form of adenovirus type 14 or Ad14 that can cause sudden, very severe respiratory problems. The 2006 death of an infant girl brought the virus to the CDC's attention. More concerning was the May 2007 outbreak in Oregon, suggesting that the bug was out there in U.S. communities.

Fortunately, most people who catch Ad14 get only minor symptoms. Even though the bug is new and scary, it's not nearly in the same deadly league as flu and RSV viruses, which kill thousands every year. But as the year draws to a close, it's still not clear whether the germ will fade away or become a factor in the winter cold and flu season.

No. 4: Drug-Resistant TB in the Air

Andrew Speaker is no health hero. But the young Atlanta lawyer inadvertently did more than anyone else to bring the international problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis to Americans' attention.

Despite being warned that he might have the dreaded extremely drug-resistant form of tuberculosis -- XDR TB, resistant to almost all tuberculosis drugs -- Speaker took his infection on a trans-Atlantic airplane ride.

Fortunately, nobody caught the infection. And Speaker eventually turned out to have multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR TB), a somewhat less dangerous TB bug. Even so, he required lung surgery to remove damaged tissues. That surgery went well, but he still has to stay on TB drugs for two years.

Georgia officials plan to watch over the chastened man to make sure he completes treatment. But it wasn't entirely his fault. Even though Speaker acted irresponsibly, federal officials later admitted they could have done a lot more.

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