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Health Highlights: July 2, 2004

FDA Warns About 'Permanent' Makeup WHO Urges Tighter SARS Controls Hopkins Ranked Top U.S. Hospital Feds Consider Screening Donor Organs for Rabies 200 Tons of Contaminated Chicken Products Recalled Generic AIDS Drugs Prove Effective CDC Urges More Spa Inspections

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

FDA Warns About 'Permanent' Makeup

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer alert about "permanent makeup" that can cause infection, scarring, and serious disfigurement.

The reactions have been reported in people who've had certain micropigmentation procedures, a form of tattooing, used to apply permanent makeup for lip liner, eyeliner, or eyebrow color.

These adverse events are associated with certain ink shades of the Premier Pigment brand of permanent makeup inks, made by the American Institute of Intradermal Cosmetics, doing business as Premier Products, in Arlington, Tex.

So far, the FDA has been alerted to about 50 reported cases of adverse events connected with these inks. Swelling, cracking, peeling, blistering, scarring, and serious infection in the areas of the eyes and lips are among the side effects reported to date.

Some people have suffered serious disfigurement.

The agency urged consumers to report adverse reactions from tattoos, including permanent makeup, to the FDA and to state and local health authorities.

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WHO Urges Tighter SARS Controls

China and other countries must tighten controls on the SARS virus, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

The demand for more stringent control of the SARS virus was made after Chinese investigators on Thursday revealed that shoddy controls at a Beijing laboratory resulted in an April SARS outbreak that infected nine people, killing one.

The investigation found that two workers at the lab fell ill in February with SARS-like illnesses. But the workers weren't tested for SARS and they returned to work after they recovered, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported.

The two workers were tested only after the start of the April outbreak. They tested positive for SARS antibodies.

"The fact that these cases weren't found sooner suggests that the detection system isn't fully in place throughout the Chinese health system," Roy Wadia, a WHO spokesperson in Beijing, told the Sun.

One of the two lab workers who became sick in February oversaw inactivation of the SARS virus. That should have made her a prime suspect for SARS when she became ill, Wadia said.

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Hopkins Ranked Top U.S. Hospital

For the 14th year in a row, the Johns Hopkins Hospital is the best in the United States, according to a U.S. News & World Report ranking released Friday.

The magazine's rankings are based on a survey of doctors across the U.S. about hospital reputations in 17 medical specialties. The rankings also factor in indicators such as nurse staffing levels, death rates, and medical technology at the hospitals, the Associated Press reported.

Hopkins was among the top 10 hospitals in 16 of the 17 categories. Among those categories, it ranked first in gynecology, otolaryngology, and urology.

Overall, the second-ranked hospital was the Mayo Clinic, followed at third by Massachusetts General Hospital. Rounding out the top five were the Cleveland Clinic and UCLA Medical Center.

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Feds Consider Screening Donor Organs for Rabies

The U.S. government is considering whether to screen donated organs for the rabies virus, following disclosure that three people died after receiving organs from a single donor who showed no signs of the disease when he died.

Thursday's announcement of the three deaths by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marked the first time that the deadly disease had been spread through solid organ donation, according to HealthDay.

The donor was not screened for rabies upon his death, the CDC said. Rabies is always fatal once symptoms occur, but is treatable if a person is vaccinated soon after being exposed to a rabid animal.

The lungs, kidneys, and liver of an Arkansas man who died in May were donated to four people in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama. Three of them died from rabies, while the fourth succumbed on the operating table before developing the disease, the CDC said.

The agency said it is working furiously to track down family members, health-care workers, and others who may have come in contact with the victims. Anyone suspected to have been exposed to the virus will be urged to get shots immediately, HealthDay reported.

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200 Tons of Contaminated Chicken Products Recalled

A North Carolina chicken processor is recalling more than 200 tons of precooked chicken products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday. No related illnesses have been reported.

Crestwood Farms said the 404,730 pounds of suspect meat were produced between May 3 and June 17 and distributed to institutional customers nationwide. Affected products bear the establishment number "EST 17400" inside the USDA seal of inspection.

Pregnant women, children, and others with weaker immune systems who eat contaminated food are at risk of developing listeriosis, a serious infection. A person with listeriosis can develop fever, muscle aches, and sometimes such gastrointestinal symptoms as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

To learn more about the recall, contact the company at 336-751-4751.

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Generic AIDS Drugs Prove Effective

The first human trials of generic AIDS drugs show that they work as well as more expensive brand-name medications, The New York Times reported.

The 24-week testing on the three-in-one pills followed 60 patients with advanced AIDS in two hospitals in Cameroon. They were given a combination of nevirapine, stavudine. and lamivudine -- which are marketed under the brand names Viramune, Zerit, and Epivir.

The brand name drugs do not come in three-in-one pills, due to differing patents from different manufacturers.

The issue of developing less expensive generic versions for use in underdeveloped nations has political undertones. The United States has refused to finance their development, arguing that there isn't enough proof that the generics are effective, the newspaper reported. President Bush has committed $15 billion to fighting AIDS in developing countries.

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CDC Urges More Spa Inspections

Spa inspections often turn up violations of public health laws, sometimes requiring the immediate closing of the tubs, but a new report found that local authorities are not launching enough investigations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that inspections have revealed violations in 56 percent of cases; the spas had to be shut down on the spot in 11 percent.

According to the report, which appears in the July 2 issue of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, there are about 5 million public and private spas in the United States. Inadequate maintenance of the filtration systems and water quality can result in waterborne illnesses in users, such as Pseudomonas and Legionella.

The report found that spa inspections were infrequent at the local level, and that only 20 percent of spa operators had adequate training.

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