Today’s Headlines: Back Pain and Bacteria, SARS, and Caffeinated Gum

Could Chronic Lower Back Pain Be Caused by Bacteria? “As many as 4 in 10 cases of chronic lower back pain are probably caused by bacteria, and treatment with antibiotics may cure them,” according to a 162-patient study published in the April issue of the European Spine Journal. The study found that “as many as 80% of the participants with persistent back pain following a herniated disc and swelling in the spine reported an improvement after taking antibiotics three times daily for 100 days.” The back pain is caused by “an infection of Proprione acne bacteria inside the affected spinal disc, [study author Hanne B.] Albert said.” (Bloomberg News)

France Reports First Case of SARS-like Coronavirus: According to officials, France is reporting its first case of a novel coronavirus that causes acute respiratory infection. The patient, who is currently hospitalized and is in intensive care, entered the hospital last month after visiting the United Arab Emirates. “The virus, known as nCoV-EMC, is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia, leaping to humans from animal hosts and killing some 800 people.” The virus “was first detected in September 2012 and since then more than 30 cases have been reported in different countries, with 18 deaths. The French health ministry says it does not appear to be very contagious.” (AFP)

Wrigley Stops Sales of Caffeinated Gum:  The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company announced Wednesday that it has placed a temporary halt on all new sales and marketing of its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum until the Food and Drug Administration completes its investigation on the health effects of caffeine-infused food products.  Wrigley says it is taking a new caffeinated gum off the market temporarily “out of respect” for the FDA, which “said it would investigate the health effects of added caffeine in foods” just as Wrigley launched the Alert gum, in which each stick “is equivalent to half a cup of coffee.” (AP)