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Health Highlights: Dec. 3, 2019

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

16 Cases of Hepatitis A in 6 States Possibly Caused by Fresh Blackberries

There have been 16 cases of hepatitis A in six states -- Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin -- in an outbreak that may be linked to fresh non-organic blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery stores, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in an update on Dec. 3.

The last person to become sick with the contagious virus that can cause liver disease was Nov. 15, 2019.

Investigators have determined that the berries came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MO, MN, NE, OH, PA, and WI.

Consumers should not eat any fresh non-organic blackberries bought between Sept.9-30, 2019, from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in those 11 states, the FDA said. That includes berries that were frozen for later use.

People who bought fresh non-organic blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states between September 9-30, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV), should talk with their healthcare provider to determine whether they require treatment, the FDA said.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these berries in the last two weeks, the FDA advised.


eBay Bans Inclined Infant Sleepers, Other Companies Urged to Do Same

eBay's decision to ban infant inclined sleepers from its platform, including non-recalled sleepers, was welcomed by Consumer Reports, which urged other companies to do the same.

Consumer Reports said eBay's ban was based on information from Consumer Reports and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about the dangers posed by inclined sleepers.

Last week, Consumer Reports sent letters to 15 retailers, online platforms, and trade groups urging them to immediately halt sales of all infant inclined sleep products.

Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports investigation found inclined sleepers were linked to dozens of infant deaths, and the CPSC has reported 73 infant deaths associated with the products.

More than five million infant inclined sleep products have been recalled, but many inclined sleepers are still for sale and in use, according to Consumer Reports.

"eBay's ban of infant inclined sleepers will help save lives and prevent tragedies worldwide. We urge every retailer and online platform to follow eBay's lead and get all infant inclined sleepers off the market right away," William Wallace, manager of home and safety policy for Consumer Reports, said in a news release.

The CPSC warns against the use of inclined sleepers and plans to go ahead with a proposed rule to ban them, but it would take a minimum of several months for the rule to become final, according to Consumer Reports.


New Federal Program Provides Free HIV Prevention Drugs to Uninsured

A new program to provide free HIV prevention drugs to people who can't afford them because they don't have health insurance was announced Tuesday by the U.S. government.

Use of these daily drugs -- called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) -- significantly reduces the risk that a person who is HIV-free will contract the AIDS-causing virus through sex or injection drug use, the Associated Press reported.

However only about 18% of the 1.2 million Americans who might benefit from the medications got a prescription last year, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Without insurance, the drugs can cost a person up to $2,000 a month, the AP reported.

Expanding access to PrEP is an important part of the federal government's aim of ending the nation's HIV epidemic by 2030.

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