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Health Highlights: Dec. 6, 2010

Cholera Death Toll Over 2,000: Haiti Officials Bumble Bee Canned Chicken Salad Products Recalled Brain May be Able to Repair MS Damage: Study

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

Cholera Death Toll Over 2,000: Haiti Officials

Cholera has killed more than 2,000 people in Haiti since last October and more than 91,700 people have been sickened by the disease, according to Haitian officials.

But last week, the United Nations said the actual number of deaths and infections could be twice as high as officially reported, said the Associated Press.

Despite efforts to bring it under control, the cholera epidemic is still going strong, especially in rural regions.

The outbreak began along the rural Artibonite River and has spread to every part of the country due to poor sanitation and health care system problems, the AP reported.


Bumble Bee Canned Chicken Salad Products Recalled

A nationwide recall of 72,000 pounds of Bumble Bee canned chicken salad products was announced after some consumers complained they found hard plastic in the products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday.

The recall by The Suter Company of Sycamore, Ill. includes 8.2-ounce packages of the "Bumble Bee Lunch on the Run Chicken Salad Complete Lunch Kit" and 3.5-ounce packages of "Bumble Bee Chicken Salad with Crackers," CNN reported.

The products were shipped to distributors and stores between August 14 and 28 of this year. The "best-by" dates are August 2011 for the lunch kit and February 2012 for the cracker package. Federal officials have not received any reports of people getting sick or hurt due to the recalled products.

In related news, California-based Diana's Mexican Food Products is recalling 41,670 pounds of chicken tamales that contain whey but don't declare the presence of the potential food allergen on the label, CNN reported.

Federal authorities discovered the presence of whey during a routine inspection. There are no known cases of people suffering an allergic reaction after eating the tamales.


Brain May be Able to Repair MS Damage: Study

It may be possible to prompt the brain to repair nerve system damage caused by multiple sclerosis, say U.K. researchers.

In experiments on rats, the Cambridge and Edinburgh University researchers identified a signaling pathway in the brain which appears able to activate the brain's own stem cells to regenerate the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers, BBC News reported.

In MS patients, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath.

"The aim of our research is to slow the progression of MS with the eventual aim of stopping and reversing it," said Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, of the University of Edinburgh's MS Society Center for MS Research, BBC News reported. "This discovery is very exciting as it could potentially pave the way to find drugs that could help repair damage caused to the important layers that protect nerve cells in the brain."

While these early findings shows promise, much more research is needed before new treatments might be developed, said the researchers.

The study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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