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Health Highlights: March 19, 2015

Lawsuit Targets High Arsenic Levels in Wines Love Hormone May Explain Human-Dog Bond Gates, Bloomberg Announce Fund to Help Poorer Countries Fight Big Tobacco Dozens Test Positive for TB at Kansas High School

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

Lawsuit Targets High Arsenic Levels in Wines

A number of the most popular wines in the United States have high levels of arsenic, according to a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit to be filed Thursday in California claims that some wines have up to four or five times the maximum amount of arsenic the Environmental Protection Agency allows in drinking water, CBS News reported.

More than 24 California winemakers and sellers misrepresent their wine as safe, according to the lawsuit

The products include Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel, Mnage Trois Moscato and a Franzia Blush, which had three, four and five times the EPA limit for arsenic in drinking water, according to tests conducted by BeverageGrades, a laboratory that analyzes wine, CBS News reported.

One of the companies named in the lawsuit is The Wine Group. A company spokesman said it "would not be inaccurate or responsible" to use the EPA's water standard as a baseline because people typically drink more water than wine.

He also told CBS News that the highest level of arsenic noted in the lawsuit is "only half of Canada's standard for wine, of 100 parts per billion," CBS News reported.

Treasury Wines is also named in the lawsuit and said its wines "are fully compliant with all relevant federal and state guidelines." Trader Joe's told CBS News "the concerns raised in your inquiry are serious and are being treated as such. We are investigating the matter with several of our wine producing suppliers."


Love Hormone May Explain Human-Dog Bond

The "love hormone" oxytocin may be the reason your dog seems to adore you, a new study suggests.

Australian researchers found that giving dogs extra doses of the hormone improved their ability to "read" their owners. The Monash University investigators said their findings could offer new clues about how dogs evolved to become our best friend, ABC News reported.

"So my hypothesis is that over the course of domestication, something happened within the dog's brain that allowed them to understand human social cues," lead researcher Jessica Oliva told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC News reported.

Oxytocin is produced by all mammals and is linked with bonding. People and dogs typically produce more oxytocin when they interact, and it's possible the hormone helped dogs evolve the ability to better understand human commands and become good companions, the researchers suggested.

The study was published in the journal Animal Cognition.


Gates, Bloomberg Announce Fund to Help Poorer Countries Fight Big Tobacco

A new fund to help low- and middle-income countries fight legal battles against the tobacco industry has been created by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates.

The Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund -- established with $4 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- was announced Wednesday at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, the Associated Press reported.

The fund is meant to help small, developing countries that often don't have the money to fight tobacco companies over laws such as requiring graphic health warning labels on tobacco products or plain packaging for cigarettes.

"We think most of these countries will win these battles but they have to be able to afford some lawyers that have experience in litigating to win," Bloomberg said in a media conference call, the AP reported.

The fund is expected to grow as more donors join the effort.


Dozens Test Positive for TB at Kansas High School

More than two dozen people have tested positive for tuberculosis at a Kansas high school.

More than 300 students and staff at Olathe Northwest High School were tested last week after a reported case of TB at the school. The testing identified 27 more people with TB infection, the Kansas City Star reported.

On Monday, health officials started calling people who tested positive, while letters were being sent to those who showed no sign of TB.

"The number of individuals with TB infection does not exceed what we would anticipate in this setting," Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement Wednesday, the Star reported.

"Of course, we had hoped we wouldn't find any additional TB cases, but we knew this was a possibility. That's why we took such thorough steps to test everyone who might have been in close contact with the first confirmed case of TB disease," Marsh added.

Another round of tests will be offered May 5 for people known to have been exposed to TB during the spring semester. It can take up to eight weeks for TB to give a positive test result, according to health officials.

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