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Health Highlights: Dec. 20, 2010

XMRV Virus Doesn't Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Study U.S. Face Transplant Recipient Meets Donor's Family U.S. Senate Corrects and Passes Food Safety Bill Study Finds Uneven Distribution of Children's Doctors in U.S. Kroger Recalls Pet Food Probable Carcinogen Present in Most Tap Water: Report

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

XMRV Virus Doesn't Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Study

A virus called XMRV is not the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, British scientists say.

In 2009, U.S. researchers linked the virus to the condition after finding it in blood samples. But this new study says that 2009 finding was the result of a "false positive," caused by cross contamination in the laboratory, BBC News reported.

While chronic fatigue syndrome may still be caused by a virus, it is not XMRV, according to the British team.

"Our conclusion is quite simple. XMRV is not the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome," said study leader Professor Greg Towers, a Wellcome Trust senior research fellow at University College, London, BBC News reported.

"It is vital to understand that we are not saying chronic fatigue syndrome does not have a virus cause -- we cannot answer that yet -- but we know it is not this virus causing it," he added.

The study appears in the journal Retrovirology.


U.S. Face Transplant Recipient Meets Donor's Family

The first American to receive a face transplant met the donor's family on the weekend.

Connie Culp received her face transplant two years ago. The donor was Anna Kasper, a Cleveland resident who died of a heart attack in December 2008, the Associated Press reported.

Culp and Kasper's husband and children met for about 90 minutes Saturday. Culp later told The Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland that there were some initial awkward moments but also said the get-together was "awesome."

The Kasper family said Culp, who lives in southeast Ohio, is the perfect recipient because she has the same personality and love of life as Anna Kasper, the AP reported.


U.S. Senate Corrects and Passes Food Safety Bill

A bill to improve food safety in the United States was passed again Sunday by the Senate after lawmakers made a correction.

The bill, which would give the Food and Drug Administration increased authority to inspect food processing plants and order recalls of tainted food, was passed three weeks ago. But that version included tax provisions that by law must originate in the House, the Associated Press reported.

The new version was amended to remove those provisions. The bill now goes to the House.

Many believed the bill was dead until it was brought back by majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada. He said the bill is essential because the nation's food safety system has not been updated in almost a century, the AP reported.


Study Finds Uneven Distribution of Children's Doctors in U.S.

There is no shortage of primary care doctors for children in the United States, but their distribution is uneven, finds a new study.

Researchers analyzed national data and found that some wealthy areas of the country have an abundance of pediatricians and family doctors, but nearly one million children live in areas with no local children's doctor, the Associated Press reported.

The highest proportions of children in low-supply regions (more than 3,000 children per children's doctor) were in Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Main and Idaho. Areas with a large number of children's doctors included Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Washington and Wisconsin.

Regions where children's doctors were in short supply were mostly rural, the AP reported.

The study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.


Kroger Recalls Pet Food

A recall of packages of pet food that may contain a poisonous chemical produced by mold was announced over the weekend by the grocery-store chain Kroger Co.

It's not clear how aflatoxin ended up in 10 versions of Kroger Value, Pet Pride and Old Yeller brands of dog and cat food, said company spokeswoman Denise Osterhues, the Wall Street Journal reported.

She said all the recalled products were made at a Kroger-owned factory in Springfield, Texas.

Kroger is using a recall notification system to alert customers who purchased the pet food.


Probable Carcinogen Present in Most Tap Water: Report

A chemical that's a probable carcinogen is present in the tap water of most U.S. cities, according to a report released Monday by the Environmental Working Group.

The first nationwide analysis of hexavalent chromium in U.S. water to be made public found that the chemical was present in the tap water of 31 of 35 cities tested, USA Today reported.

The highest levels were present in the water of Norman, Okla., Honolulu, Hawaii, Riverside, Calif., Madison, Wisc., and San Jose, Calif., the group said.

In 2008, the U.S. National Institutes of Health deemed the chemical a "probable carcinogen." It has been linked to leukemia and other cancers in animals, as well as liver and kidney damage, USA Today reported.

The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing whether to set a limit on levels of hexavalent chromium in tap water.

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