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U of M researcher works to prevent disease transmission in pumas

Minnesota may not seem like the obvious place for researching disease transmission and prevention among America’s large wild felids. But through collaborations with Colorado State University, the University of Tasmania, and state and federal agencies, the University of Minnesota will soon begin work studying six wild puma populations in California and Colorado, in addition to Florida’s endangered panther.

The work to study pathogens in puma populations is made possible through a new $2.14 million grant shared among the three institutions from the National Science Foundation.

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Health Talk Recommends: U.S. causes of death then & now

Of the many spectacular inventions of the 1900s, it’s safe to say we never may have made it to where we are today without radar, plastics or the once-revolutionary vacuum tube triode (responsible, in case you’re wondering, for launching the age of electronics).

Medical advances made throughout the 20th century, too, are nothing to bat an eye at.

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Norovirus: The worst kind of cruise ship stowaway

Imagine lounging under sunny skies aboard a cruise ship sailing through the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Sounds great, right? Except now imagine that 700 of your fellow passengers are all violently ill. Yeah, that changes things a bit.

The Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s ill-fated cruise ship, returned to port yesterday following an outbreak of norovirus among at least 630 passengers and 54 crew members. Those numbers are an unfortunate record among cruise ships over the last 20 years for the highest number of ill passengers.

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UMN, UNMC research shows persistent HIV replication is associated with lower drug concentrations in lymphatic tissues

Drugs used to treat HIV penetrate poorly into lymphatic tissues where most HIV replication takes place and there is persistent low-level virus replication in these tissues according to research from the University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“We know the drugs we use today are effective because our patients are doing better and living longer, but these drugs cannot cure the infection,” said Timothy Schacker, M.D., director of the Program in HIV Medicine at the University of Minnesota. “We wanted to know why and thought that maybe the drugs were not getting into the tissues where most virus replication is happening.”

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Do docs need a new way to greet? The case for and against the handshake

According to researchers at West Virginia University, it may be better to skip the handshake with the doctor at your next hospital visit. By studying the amount of skin-to-skin contact a hand shake requires, researchers concluded that a “fist bump” is a safer alternative in terms of germ transmission.

“One possible solution to help control the spread of infectious diseases in the healthcare setting would be to eliminate voluntary hand-to-hand contact,” the authors wrote. “Hand-to-hand contact is a known vector for the transmission of infectious diseases; as many as 80% of individuals retain some disease-causing bacteria after washing.”

Although eliminating voluntary handshakes would reduce infections that thrive in a hospital environment, it would neglect the social importance that the handshake signifies…

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Health Talk Recommends: Measles, the most infectious of all infectious diseases

Measles is a rare but potentially deadly disease in children. According to a recent article by Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 60 cases of measles in the U.S. each year. In 2013, however, there have been 175 reported cases in the first 11 months.

And while that number doesn’t seem outrageous, measles is a very serious disease. According to Frieden, “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 of 10 people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

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