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I got my flu shot today and here’s why you should, too

Today I did something that could help safeguard my community from getting a potentially deadly infectious disease. Before you begin to think I did something heroic, I did something so simple it may surprise you (sans the title of this blog post): I got my flu shot.

Yes, it’s that simple folks. I got my flu shot. It took less than 30 seconds and the pain involved from the flu shot was far less than the pain involved in getting the actual flu.

I’ve heard many excuses or explanations as to why people choose not to get a flu shot, and many are rooted in myth, not fact. Health Talk even debunked many common flu shot myths in a blog post in 2013.

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expert-perspectives

E. coli in our lakes: What does it really mean?

Image courtesy Death to the Stock Photo

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the personal blog of University of Minnesota associate professor of biosciences Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Johnson’s research at the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine includes investigations into antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, microbial communities in the animal gastrointestinal tract, and multidrug resistance of E. coli and Salmonella in both humans and animals.

If you follow the local news, or have children that love swimming, you have probably noticed an increasing number of beaches in Minnesota closed recently due to high E. coli levels. Just in Minneapolis, Lake Hiawatha Beach and Lake Calhoun’s Thomas and 32nd Street beaches were recently closed in response to high E. coli counts in the water. The simple phrase “E. coli” strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced gastrointestinal distress. However, it is important to understand what E. coli actually is and what “high E. coli levels” actually means to our lakes.

What is E. coliE. coli stands for Escherichia coli. This is the formal name for a species of bacteria in honor of the German-Austrian physician Theodor Escherich, who first identified the bacteria associated with digestion in infants. Here are the important take-home messages about E. coli:

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patient-care

Some drugs may be off-label, but not off focus

Photo courtesy Flickr user Jamie

The advancement of medicine and technology have allowed doctors to find many uses for medications beyond the initially intended benefits. For example, a teenager’s alopecia was recently cured by an arthritis drug. This type of use is called “off-label drug use,” the common term for using a medication to treat or manage symptoms outside the approved uses.

Off-label drug use is more prominent than you may think. For example, aspirin helps reduce blood pressure and oral contraception can be used to treat acne or endometriosis. These are all examples of using a drug off-label.

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u-of-m-voices

How pharmacy education differs from U.S. to Germany

Editor’s note: Ashley Artmann is a doctor of pharmacy student at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. To document her five-week rotation in Germany, Artmann is blogging about her experiences learning about German pharmacy education and practice. Find this and additional posts from Artmann at aeartma.blogspot.com.

Last Tuesday we ventured via bus and train in the rain to Düsseldorf to visit their university and pharmacy school.

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u-of-m-voices

U of M Voices: Exploring the nuances and complexities of global health

I had only one certainty when I decided to sign-up for the University of Minnesota’s Global Health Case Competition, and that was knowing I would be tackling a global health issue.

Little did I realize that a proposed strategy for how China should invest in sanitation, would lead to a national competition and the challenge of restructuring the World Health Organization (WHO). Even though I put in countless hours debating strategy and presentation late into the night with my team, I can definitively say I have gotten far more out of the experience than I put in.

As you may have already assumed, I did not become a global health expert over the course of two case competitions, but I did gain a stronger appreciation for the nuances and complexity of global health.

When solving global health challenges there are many factors to consider, but during the course of the competitions I found the following to be key: identify and consider all the stakeholders involved and the perspectives they bring to the situation; scalability and feasibility are vital – great ideas cannot become actionable without these; and maybe most importantly, the fact that there is no right solution, only the best one right now. The latter point is the reason it is vital for students at the University of Minnesota to pursue global health today and into the future.

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u-of-m-voices

Dental Therapy: Filling the gaps in dental disparities

Photo courtesy University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

The next time you’re in a dental office, there’s a chance your clinician might say, “Hi, I’m the dental therapist who will be working with you today.” More of these providers are entering the market each year thanks to innovative programs like the one found at the University of Minnesota. As a result, more and more Minnesotans are getting exposed to dental therapists.

But some patients still have questions around what a dental therapist actually is and the type of work they’re licensed to perform. Here’s some quick background.

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