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Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

China media train fire on U.S. food giants over chicken scare

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Just weeks after Chinese authorities cleared Yum Brands Inc <YUM.N> and McDonald's Corp <MCD.N> of charges they had served chicken laced with excessive chemicals, local media are again attacking the iconic American firms, while barely reporting on the chances of Chinese restaurants selling similar meat. The official Shanghai Daily, citing a report from the central government's news portal china.com.cn, said on Thursday one of China's largest suppliers to McDonald's and Yum's KFC and had bought sick chicken from farms and sold them to the food outlets - a claim a local government in the central province of Henan said was untrue after a preliminary investigation.

Vaccine timetable for children is safe, experts say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The current guideline for immunizing children against polio, whooping cough, measles and other infectious diseases is safe, but should still be monitored, federal health advisers said on Wednesday. In what they called the most comprehensive review to date, scientists at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said there is no evidence that giving children vaccines according to the recommended timetable causes other problems such as autism or asthma.

Governors in 22 states back expanded Medicaid plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 22 governors, including four Republicans, support an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, while others are expected to decide in the coming weeks, experts said on Wednesday. An analysis published by the New England Journal of Medicine said the headcount, which includes 13 Republican governors who staunchly oppose Medicaid expansion, portends an uneven start for "Obamacare" when its most sweeping reform provisions begin on January 1, 2014.

Flu vaccine not linked to fetal death

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Getting the flu vaccine while pregnant does not increase the odds that the fetus will die in the womb, according to a new study of tens of thousands of women in Norway. Although fetal deaths were rare during the study, they were more common in pregnant women with the flu.

Checklists may help avoid surgery oversights: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Having step-by-step checklists on hand may help doctors and nurses manage emergencies in the operating room, a new study suggests. In situations when a person's heart stops beating on the operating table or a patient begins bleeding uncontrollably, those lists can save time and brainpower, researchers said.

Skin cancer phone apps aren't very accurate: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smartphone applications that use algorithms to analyze skin lesions may not be very good at determining which ones are cancerous, a new study suggests. The apps are marketed as educational only and so aren't covered as medical devices under the Food and Drug Administration's regulations.

U.S. states need to do more to reduce smoking: study

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Feces transplant may help relieve severe diarrhea

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - It may sound like the most unappealing treatment available, but a small new study has concluded that inserting fecal material from a healthy person into the gut of someone with severe diarrhea may cure their problem more effectively than antibiotics. The study, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved patients who had repeated bouts of diarrhea caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium difficile. So-called C. diff can take over the intestines after antibiotic treatment has killed off the beneficial bacteria found in the gut.

Dengue is fastest-spreading tropical disease, WHO says

GENEVA (Reuters) - Dengue is the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease and represents a "pandemic threat", infecting an estimated 50 million people across all continents, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. Transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes, the disease is occurring more widely due to increased movement of people and goods - including carrier objects such as bamboo plants and used tires - as well as floods linked to climate change, the United Nations agency said.

Biogen, Elan seek okay for first-line Tysabri use in MS

LONDON (Reuters) - Biogen Idec <BIIB.O> and Elan <ELN.I> have filed for approval to sell their drug Tysabri as a first-line treatment for multiple sclerosis, a move that could boost sales of the drug. Demand for Tysabri has been curtailed due to concerns over its association with a potentially fatal infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, which is caused by the JC virus.

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