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Health Highlights: Sept. 7, 2012

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

Florida Warehousing Disabled Children in Nursing Homes: Federal Officials

Florida is violating federal law by unnecessarily keeping hundreds of disabled children in nursing homes, according to federal investigators.

In a letter sent this week to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Department of Justice said investigators visited six nursing homes around the state and found numerous children who shouldn't be there and who "would benefit from moving home with their families and or other community settings," CBS News/Associated Press reported.

The letter, written by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, said hundreds of Florida children spend their formative years with virtually no education or socialization.

Some of these children "are unnecessarily separated from their families and communities for years," the letter stated. This included some children who entered facilities as infants or toddlers and have spent a decade or longer institutionalized, CBS News/AP reported.

State officials have made it difficult for children to get medical services that would allow them to move back home, the letter concluded.

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U.S. Drug Shortage Easing: Report

The drug shortage crisis in the United States appears to be easing, according to new statistics.

As of Aug. 31, there were 123 reports of new drug shortages this year. That's about a third lower than the number of new drug shortages at this time last year, NBC News reported.

There were a record number of drug shortages in 2011, with a total of 267 drugs in short supply. The shortages affected both vital medications -- such as those for cancer care -- and drugs used for basic care.

The number of ongoing drug shortages is 14 percent lower this year. There were 211 reports of ongoing drug shortages in the second quarter, compared with 246 reports for the same period last year, according to NBC News.

The declines are largely due to new rules that require drug makers to notify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sooner about pending supply problems, according to Erin Fox, manager of the Drug Information Service at the University of Utah, which monitors drug shortages.

The new rules have enabled the FDA to intervene earlier to ease or avert drug shortages, NBC News reported.

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Third Death Reported in Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak

A person in West Virginia is the third to die in an outbreak of rodent-borne hantavirus linked to tent cabins at Yosemite National Park.

No details about the latest victim were released. The two other deaths occurred in California and Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reported.

Currrently, five people are ill from the outbreak. Up to 10,000 people may have been exposed to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after sleeping in "Signature" tent cabins in Yosemite's Curry Village between early June and late August, according to park officials.

Other suspected cases have yet to be confirmed, the AP reported.

The cabins have been closed and the park is contacting people who stayed in the cabins.

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More Than 450,000 Blinds Recalled by Blinds Xpress

More than 450,000 vertical and horizontal blinds are being recalled by Blinds Xpress after a 2-year-old girl reportedly strangled in a blind's cord.

The 2009 incident involved a Michigan girl who got caught in a vertical blind cord that was not attached to the wall or the floor, the Associated Press reported.

The recall covers all Blind Xpress horizontal blinds that do not have inner cord stop devices and all custom-made vertical blinds that do not have a cord tensioning device that attaches to the wall or floor.

The blinds were sold from January 1995 through December 2011 at stores in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the AP reported.

Conusmers should immediately stop using the blinds and contact the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636 to receive a free repair kit, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.


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