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Disease transmission among humans, animals affects chimpanzee conservation in Tanzania

The spread of disease from animal to human is no new phenomenon; the bubonic plague spread through rat fleas, Rabies normally transfers through animal bites and Ebola has commonly been linked to bats. It’s called zoonosis: when a disease from an infected animal population spills over to humans.

But pathogens can spread both ways. Humans can pass diseases to animals, too (called anthropozoonosis).

Cryptosporidiosis, commonly called Crypto, is one such disease taking a particular toll on chimpanzees within Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. A thorough analysis of the epidemiology of cryptosporidium – the parasite that causes Crypto – recently published in PLOS One, reveals the complexities of disease transmission in the Gombe ecosystem. The discovery could have broader implications on wildlife and chimpanzee conservation models.

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Newborn testing shows prenatal nicotine exposure higher than maternal reported rates

New evidence out of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, shows more mothers are smoking while pregnant than is reported on their children’s birth certificates. The research was done using newly developed assay methods, allowing researchers to look at very small blood samples while maintaining accurate results.

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Taking a deeper dive into the latest CDC obesity data

Given the intense volume of media coverage this week around the CDC’s latest report on obesity in the U.S., many in the public now know that obesity rates among children aged two to five have fallen over the last decade, a key takeaway from the report.

The media’s interpretation and coverage of that particular point has varied widely; some headlines celebrated the shift as a positive as others focused on the statistic as a lone bright spot among otherwise unchanging obesity rates. As is often the case, perusing multiple media stories – even around the same issue – can generate a feeling of “OK, what’s really going on?”

According to Simone French, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota epidemiologist and obesity prevention expert, a deeper dive into the study is critical for a thorough understanding of what the study actually tells us about obesity trends in the U.S. She points out that where some may see stalled obesity rates as a negative, the flat rates could actually be viewed as a sign of progress.

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U of M research team presents update on Taconite Workers Health Study findings

On Friday in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, in the heart of the state’s Iron Range, University of Minnesota researchers confirmed an association between time spent working in the taconite industry and an increased risk of contracting mesothelioma, an association evident across Minnesota’s Iron Range. Researchers also found that air quality in communities surrounding taconite mines is cleaner in terms of particulates than air found in Minneapolis.

They’ve also found that current occupational exposure to dust from taconite operations is generally within safe exposure limits.

The updated results come as the Taconite Workers Health Study, a multi-pronged research initiative funded by the state of Minnesota, winds down later this year. The Minnesota Legislature commissioned the $4.9 million project in 2008, after data from the Minnesota Cancer Registry revealed an apparent excess of cases of mesothelioma in Iron Range workers. The mesothelioma deaths only occurred in men working in the taconite industry.

The University of Minnesota School of Public Health partnered with the Medical School and the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth on the project.

“This is a landmark study for Minnesota and the Iron Range,” said John Finnegan, Ph.D., dean of the School of Public Health. “Our goal was to begin to answer questions around how mining and taconite processing have impacted the health of Minnesotans. These studies have started to uncover those answers.”

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