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  • Updated: February 1, 2014 - 5:17 PM
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State Health Department Lab. This is throat culture of a Group A Strep from a patient in the Rochester/Wannamingo area where a serious outbreak was discovered. The technique is similar to the work done on the meningitis outbreak in Mankato.

– and stays active Strep sticks around and remains active while staying put. According to the journal Infection and Immunity, streptococcus (strep) bacteria — they cause many throat and respiratory infections — remain active on toys for hours after exposure. In the past, we were taught that bacteria cannot survive outside the body for long. This study demonstrated that bacterial droplets (released with coughing or sneezing) remained active overnight and into the next morning at a day care center. Surfaces, as well as 4 out of 5 stuffed animals, remained positive for strep the morning after cleaning took place. One researcher suggested that bacteria such as strep, given the right environment, could persist for months. Experts suggested continued antibacterial surface cleaning and buying machine-washable stuffed animals.

Drink up: Hot chocolate may help boost your memory Hot chocolate may have an added benefit: It may preserve memory. In a study in the journal Neurology, investigators studied dementia-free people with an average age of 73. Imaging studies reviewed the brain’s blood flow, and work-memory speed tests before the treatment. Participants drank two hot cocoa drinks daily over a period of 30 days. Upon completion, blood-flow response to brain stimulation improved 8.3 percent and the work-memory speed test completion time decreased from 167 seconds to 116 seconds.

some have gene mutation that prevents odor

Surprisingly, not everyone has the smelly armpit gene. Several years ago, a gene that determined whether people produced wet or dry earwax was discovered. Now, a study confirmed that people who produce the dry earwax — the usefulness of which is not well understood — also lack certain chemicals in the armpit that promote bacterial growth and produce a foul aroma (to put it nicely). Without these genetically produced chemicals, there is no armpit odor. Most East Asians and almost all Koreans lack the smelly armpit gene, while only 3 percent of Europeans lack the key gene for smelly armpits. The conclusion of the study, from the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and involving women only, was that almost three-quarters of non-odor-producing women still used deodorant.

heavier women may not be protected by emergency pill

The European Medicines Agency says it has started a review of emergency contraceptives to see if they work less well in heavier women. In November, French drugmaker HRA Pharma said its morning-after pill Norlevo, which contains levonorgestrel, was less effective in women weighing more than 165 pounds and that it didn’t work for women more than 176 pounds. HRA Pharma changed its labels to warn patients after consulting with regulators. The EMA said it would evaluate new data suggesting that a high body weight could compromise the effectiveness of the morning-after pill. Levonorgestrel is the same active ingredient in other medicines including Plan B One-Step, ellaOne, Levonnelle and Levodonna. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also is studying the issue.

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  • TOM WALLACE ‚Ä¢ twallace@startribune.com Assignments #20016459A_ Feb 09, 2011_ SLUG: rn0224 _ _ IN THIS PHOTO:] A how-to guide to preparing the best hot chocolate. Let‚Äôs give readers visual ideas of how to make a great cup of hot chocolate, with Kopplin's Cafe owner Andrew Kopplin sharing his knowledge. ORG XMIT: MIN2013012313071212

  • This undated image made available by Teva Women's Health shows the packaging for their Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) tablet, one of the brands known as the "morning-after pill." About 1 in 9 younger women who've had sex have taken the morning-after pill, according to the first government report to focus on use of emergency contraception since it was approved in 1998. At least five versions of the morning-after pills are sold in the United States. The results of the study were released Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Teva Women's Health)

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