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Health Talk Recommends: Why Pakistan’s polio problem is of global concern

For most Americans, polio is a concern relegated to the past. The crippling disease once plagued so many, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in the decades since vaccines were developed in the 1950’s, the condition has been eradicated in the United States. The disease is still active in a handful of places, however, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Nigeria.

Now, according to reports by Reuters, polio cases are on the rise in Pakistan and appear to be linked to a strong anti-vaccination policy by the Taliban, which maintains a presence along the country’s northern border.

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U of M researchers land $5.7M grant to employ a new approach in the fight against HIV

Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Program in HIV Medicine have been awarded a $5.7 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a new treatment approach in the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In clinical trials supported by the latest grant, University researchers will employ an FDA-approved drug with anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties to reverse the inflammatory damage caused by HIV replication in lymphatic tissues in an attempt to restore the population of immune cells (CD4 cells) that are essential for normal immune responses.

If successful, the trials could point to a new adjunctive therapy for HIV that could improve immune function and lead to a functional cure for the disease. The approach could also help protect HIV infected people from diseases associated with ongoing inflammation like heart attacks, blood clots and cancer.

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Health Talk Recommends: Is cat poop dangerous?

The dangers of cat feces exposure for pregnant women is well documented: cat poop can contain Toxoplasma gondii, one of the world’s most common parasites, which can cause the condition toxoplasmosis, which in turn can cause serious complications for a fetus. The condition can also cause dramatic brain infections for patients battling AIDS or other immunodeficiency disorders.

Now, two researchers from Maryland – E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Robert H. Yolken, M.D., director of the Stanley Neurovirology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - are expanding our understanding of additional risks Toxoplasma gondii may entail.

In an Expert Q & A with the duo earlier this month, CNN discussed the additional risks of Toxoplasma gondii, the types of research needed to fully understand the dangers of cat poop and how people can avoid exposure to the parasite.

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In the News: U of M responds to cyclospora outbreak

There’s a new stomach bug spreading in the United States and its got health officials scrambling to find its source. Cyclospora, a parasite typically found in the tropics, has infected 321 people in 14 different states, including one person in Minnesota. Craig Hedberg, Ph.D., an expert in foodborne illnesses in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, spoke to KSTP about the outbreak…

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Summer safety tips: enjoying food outside

This summer, as you plan to spend time picnicking and eating meals outdoors, U of M public health experts have some advice: be mindful of how long your food has been sitting out. For those who think foodborne illnesses are limited to contaminated or poorly prepared meat, read on.

Craig Hedberg, Ph.D., a professor with the University of School of Public Health, is here to offer his summer safety tips for enjoying food outside, especially fruits and veggies:

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HPV vaccine shown to lower cancer risk among girls

Last week, attention was drawn to the declining prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in young women by more than half since the introduction of the HPV vaccine.

The real kicker: this decline happened despite low vaccine uptake, demonstrating the potential for an even larger impact as vaccine rates rise.

According to an article in USA Today, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in The Journal of Infectious Disease, found the HPV vaccine has decreased the incidence of the cancer-causing virus among teenage girls by 56 percent, though only one-third of girls 13-17 have gotten a full course of three HPV vaccine injections.

To shed some light on HPV and the vaccine, Carrie Ann Terrell, M.D., director of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School and director of the Women’s Health Specialists Clinic sat down to answer a few questions.

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