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U of M School of Nursing faculty join southern Liberia Ebola response

Four University of Minnesota School of Nursing faculty were invited by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) to be part of a leadership team of health professionals charged with launching a new Ebola treatment center in southern Liberia. Two members of the group departed today to aid in the response efforts.

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Research Snapshot: Modeling how the flu moves through pig farms

Humans aren’t the only ones who can contract the flu.

Influenza A viruses can also affect pigs and their piglets, which is why, just like in human populations, pig populations are commonly vaccinated against the flu.

Last week, University of Minnesota researchers published a new model addressing how swine producers approach vaccinating their pigs.

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

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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Dental Therapy: Good news for Minnesota safety net clinics

Dental therapy, the newest oral healthcare profession in Minnesota, has firm roots in the state’s safety net clinics, found new research from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

Findings from the study indicate dental therapists are being used in innovative and diverse ways, allowing the dental therapy profession to continue to evolve in the way it addresses specific oral health care needs.

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U of M graduates first cohort of Saudi Arabia MHA students

A unique cohort of 25 Executive Master of Health Administration (MHA) students graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health having never before stepped foot in Minnesota, and having taken all of their classes while living in Saudi Arabia.

Similar to many students of the stateside MHA program, students of the Saudi Arabian program were all full-time professionals who completed a University of Minnesota MHA degree in 25 months.

The Saudi Arabia Executive MHA program launched at the King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) in Riyadh, Saudi in 2012. The program was the first of its kind available in Saudi Arabia and attracted healthcare professionals who wished to further grow their careers.

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Industrial Hygiene: How to protect workers from everyday hazards

Imagine putting up drywall without wearing a mask to filter out the dust, or cleaning up an oil spill without a full bodysuit to protect you. Sound crazy? As commonplace as health and safety practices are today, industrial hygiene regulations aren’t accidental.

The people responsible for worker health and safety regulations are industrial hygienists. At the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Division of Environmental Health Sciences, researchers like professor Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Ph.D., work to recognize, evaluate and control potential workplace hazards, including chemical, physical and biological agents. They also work to analyze the potential health threats to the community and the environment.

“The types of research that we conduct range from assessing chemical hazards in the workplace, to physical hazards such as noise, to biological hazards such as mold, bacteria and viruses,” said Ramachandran. “In our research we assess the exposures to workers in various situations such as mining, or the clean up efforts relating to the BP oil spill, test how well filters work, see how to reduce coal dust in mines and assess the smoke exposure of firefighters.”

Using mathematical equations, environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure, Ramachandran and his colleagues can assess and control potential health hazards.

“You can’t just tell every kind of worker to wear a protective mask and expect positive outcomes, because all working conditions are different,” said Ramachandran. “Each situation is different and calls for different protocols to ensure worker safety.”

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