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Wednesday, Oct 01st

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Fla. Jury Slams RJ Reynolds With $23.6B in Damages

rj reynolds law suitA Florida jury has slammed the nation's No. 2 cigarette maker, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict. That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths.

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Crash claims top AIDS researchers heading to Melbourne

AIDS experts on Maylaysia planeAbout 100 of the 298 people killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash were heading to Melbourne for a major AIDS conference, conference attendees have been told.

Delegates at a pre-conference in Sydney were told on Friday morning that about 100 medical researchers, health workers and activists were on the plane that went down near the Russia-Ukraine border, including former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange.

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NC GOP mayor marches to DC to urge Medicaid expansion, prevention of 'medical deserts'

Myaor Adam O'NealThe Republican mayor of the small town of Belhaven, NC began a 273-mile walk to Washington, DC today to draw attention to the health care crisis threatening his rural coastal community following the closure of the area's only hospital. Vidant Pungo Hospital served over 20,000 people in Beaufort and Hyde counties -- a area of North Carolina with higher-than-average poverty rates and where many residents are uninsured.

After a prayer of blessing by NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber, Mayor Adam O'Neal set off on foot for the nation's capital, where he plans to ask President Obama and Congress for help. On July 1, Vidant Health closed the 49-bed hospital for financial reasons, forcing residents of the Belhaven area to travel more than an hour to receive emergency care. The town had tried to take ownership of the hospital to prevent its closure, but negotiations broke down. Vidant has opened a clinic in Belhaven, but it doesn't provide emergency care.

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Ebola crisis in West Africa deepens; 500+ dead

ebola crisisDeep in the forests of southern Guinea, the first victims fell ill with high fevers. People assumed it was the perennial killer malaria and had no reason to fear touching the bodies, as is the custom in traditional funerals.

Some desperate relatives brought their loved ones to the distant capital in search of better medical care, unknowingly spreading what ultimately was discovered to be Ebola, one of the world's most deadly diseases.

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Deadliest, Rarest Form of Plague Contracted Near Denver

Plague in DenverA Colorado man is infected with the rarest and most fatal form of plague, an airborne version that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.

It is the first case of pneumonic plague seen in the state since 2004, said Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The man, who hasn’t been identified, may have been exposed in Adams County near Denver, health officials said in a statement. While House said the man has been hospitalized and treated, she wouldn’t release other details about his situation.

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Hospitals continue to shut down in rural America

Hosptial closures in rural AmericaWhen Pungo Hospital, the only emergency health facility in Belhaven, North Carolina, closed its doors earlier this July, barely anyone outside this coastal community took notice. But for the town’s mayor, Adam O’Neal, the shutdown was a matter of life and death.

“Our health and well-being depend on this hospital,” O’Neal said, as he was gearing up for a town council meeting.

Pungo Hospital provided health services to 25,000 people in two of North Carolina’s poorest counties, Beaufort and Hyde. Vidant Health, a nonprofit network that owns hospitals and clinics in eastern North Carolina, decided to replace Pungo with a 24/7 urgent care clinic offering treatment for minor illnesses and non-life threatening injuries. If the clinic cannot serve their needs, Belhaven residents will now have to travel 30 miles to the next closest hospital.

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CDC admits improperly sending dangerous pathogens five times in last decade

Thomas Frieden of the CDCThe laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, are one of only a few places in the world allowed to handle dangerous pathogens like anthrax and smallpox, and one would think they'd take that responsibility very seriously.

But in a new report outlining protocol breaches, the CDC admitted to having improperly sent dangerous bacterium, viruses or other microorganisms five times over the last decade. That's one potentially deadly mistake every two years.

"These events should never have happened," CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters this week.

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