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Health Highlights: Jan. 12, 2021

Below are newsworthy items compiled by the HealthDay staff:


WHO and Partners to Stockpile 500,000 Ebola Vaccine Doses

Ebola vaccines are being stockpiled by the World Health Organization and other groups to combat future outbreaks of the deadly disease.

An emergency reserve of about 500,000 doses of a Merck vaccine will be established, according to a statement released Tuesday by the WHO, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Associated Press reported.

Nearly 7,000 doses are currently available.

Before it was licensed, the Merck Ebola vaccine was used under a "compassionate use" protocol to control outbreaks in Guinea and Congo, the AP reported.


Disneyland to be Mass COVID Vaccination Site

Disneyland will become the first mass coronavirus vaccination site in Orange County, Calif., officials announced Monday.

They said the theme park will open as the first "Super Point-of-Dispensing (POD)" site later this week, CBS News reported.

"The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county's first Super POD site -- undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process," acting chairman Andrew Do, Orange County Supervisor, representing the First District, said in a statement.

As California faces a record number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Orange County plans to open more Super POD sites soon so that it will have five regional sites that can vaccinate thousands of people daily, CBS News reported.


COVID-19 Patient Dies After Being Given Chlorine Dioxide

A COVID-19 patient in Argentina died after a judge forced a private clinic to give him the powerful disinfectant chlorine dioxide.

The 92-year-old man was in critical condition when his stepson got a judge to force the clinic to give chlorine dioxide to the patient. The clinic unsuccessfully appealed the ruling, CBS News reported.

The patient died Monday, the family's lawyer confirmed. Medical doctors called the case "a scandal."

There are some online claims that chlorine dioxide is a "miracle cure," but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies warn that it poses a health risk if consumed, CBS News reported.


Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Have Coronavirus

Eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park that tested positive for the new coronavirus are being closely monitored and given vitamins, fluid and food, park officials said Monday.

These are the first known cases of coronavirus infection among gorillas in the United States, and possibly the world, according to the Associated Press.

It appears that the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic member of the park's wildlife team who wore a mask while working, said the park's executive director, Lisa Peterson.

"Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well," she told the AP.

The park tested feces of the troop of gorillas after two apes began coughing Jan. 6, the AP reported. Positive test results were confirmed by the U.S Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in three gorillas. Feces from all eight in the troop are being taken for testing, the AP reported.

Zoo officials said they are talking to experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans, in case the animals develop more severe symptoms. They will remain together since separating them could be harmful to the gorillas, because they live in tight-knit groups.

"This is wildlife, and they have their own resiliency and can heal differently than we do," Peterson said.


Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise

Drug maker Eli Lilly on Monday announced promising results from a small study of an experimental Alzheimer's drug called donanemab.

The two-year, Phase 2 clinical trial included 272 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's symptoms. The company said that patients who received the drug by infusion every four weeks had a 32% slower rate of mental decline than those who were given a placebo, The New York Times reported.

After six to 12 months of treatment with the drug, patients no longer had amyloid protein plaques that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, according to Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, the company's chief scientific officer.

However, the findings haven't been reviewed by other researchers and have not been published in any form, the Times reported.

The main side effect was one often seen in patients who take experimental monoclonal antibodies to treat Alzheimer's: an accumulation of fluid in the brain, the AP reported. It occurred in close to 30 percent of patients, Skovronsky said, but most had no symptoms. The effect was seen on brain scans.

The trial findings need to be replicated, Dr. Michael Weiner, a leading Alzheimer's researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Times.

Even so, "this is big news" and "holds out hope for patients and their families," Weiner told the newspaper.