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UMN research finds room for improvement in Latin American & Caribbean food safety safeguards

Photo: Maize harvest/Neil Palmer CIAT/CC 2.0/ flic.kr/p/8ZqebH

Food safety standards can be shaky at best in developing Caribbean and Latin American regions. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated at least one-third of individuals in developing countries likely contract a foodborne illness each year. And with Latin America and the Caribbean forecasted to play a growing role in global food production and exports in the coming years, that high rate of foodborne illness is one worth paying attention to.

University of Minnesota food safety risk analyst and assistant professor, Fernando Sampedro Parra, Ph.D., has focused his sights on the problem and recently conducted first-of-its-kind research for the region.

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news-and-notes

Rat poisoning’s secondary effects can harm Minnesota owls

Great horned owl photo by Amber Burnette

Winter can invite household nuisances like mice and rats inside along with unwelcome gnawing habits, putrid droppings and disease. But as you look to eradicate vermin from your house this winter, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota invites you to take a moment and pause.

Your choice between rat poison and an old-school snap trap could impact human, pet and wildlife health.

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news-and-notes

Advanced practice nurses gain new rights in Minnesota

Mary Chesney, Ph.D., R.N., director of the University of Minnesota Doctor of Nursing Practice Program displays her new license.

This month in Minnesota, advanced practice nurses gained new authority to practice. State requirements mandating a collaborative practice agreement between a physician and an advanced practice nurse are no longer required for nurses who meet the state’s new licensing and certification standards. The changes could benefit both metro-area and rural Minnesota communities by increasing access to the expertise of advanced practice nurses and opportunities to visit nurse-led primary care clinics.

The changes come as primary care access across Minnesota enters a critical stage, with a shortage of as many as 850 primary care physicians expected within the next ten years, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association.

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news-and-notes

Searching for ways to eliminate invasive rats, without adding new threats to island ecosystems

A black rat sits upright on the ground. Etching by W. S. Howitt.

Invasive rodents are a problem for oceanic islands throughout the world. Rats transported by sea-faring humans from landmass to landmass plague ecosystems off the coast of Australia and in the Hawaiian and Galápagos Islands. Rats can endanger native species, damage agriculture crops and even prevent trees from re-growing. Efforts to remove the invasive species, however, sometimes result in their own unintended consequences.

“You can’t just remove 70 percent or 90 percent,” said Julia Ponder, D.V.M., executive director of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “You have to remove 100 percent of the invasive species, and that’s what makes it so hard. There’s no margin of error and eradication efforts are expensive.”

Eradication efforts can put other species such as birds at risk, too.

That’s why Ponder became involved in research recently published in the journal Biological Conservation.

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news-and-notes

The Raptor Center advises against duck hunting with falcons in Pacific Northwest

Northern pintail image by Brendan Lally/CC 2.0/ flic.kr/p/4yqE26

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota is adding to the understanding of avian influenza, or bird flu, in the Pacific Northwest. The center recently advised an extended cessation from waterfowl hunting by falconers through the end of the hunting season, which comes to a close mid-January.

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in-the-news

In the News: Generic drug prices soar

Photo: David Goehring/CC 2.0/ flic.kr/p/7FDNYM

High-priced prescription drugs are not unfamiliar to the American consumer.

But generic drugs – widely accepted as the cheaper alternative to big brand names – are making their own name in high pricing as of late.

Generic drug prices on some commonly prescribed medications have risen by as much as 500 percent over the past year.

University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy pharmaceutical economist Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D., spoke with WCCO Radio’s Chad Hartmann about the rising cost trend and what it could mean for consumers.

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