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

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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Rat poisoning’s secondary effects can harm Minnesota owls

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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In the News: UMN researchers identify new strain of deadly pig virus in U.S.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has resulted in the deaths of millions of pigs and piglets since its introduction to the United States in early 2013. Since its introduction, the University of Minnesota has been on the frontline of PEDV disease spread prevention research with the development of rapid detection and herd surveillance tests.

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine experts have now contributed to PEDV understanding by detecting a new, third strain of the disease on a Minnesota hog farm. The strain was found to be at least as virulent as the original strain that emerged in the U.S. in early 2013, according to Reuters.

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

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

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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What happens to a rehabilitated eagle after release?

Each year in September, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota releases a small number of rehabilitated birds back to the wild at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center in Hastings, Minnesota. While a few thousand spectators come out to observe the release and see education birds including bald eagles, great horned owls and kestrels up-close, it’s not often that the audience gets to learn what happens in the days, weeks and months following.

Did the bird make it? Did it fall prey to another urban landscape challenge such as a chimney, window or methane burner? Or is the bird we saw fly free in good health, hunting and soaring over the plains?

For one bird released in July, there was a rare opportunity to find out.

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