Tag Archives: safety

Looking for clues about disease affecting cattle and people

A Virginia Tech researcher is hoping to better understand a bacterium responsible for both spontaneous abortions in cattle and an inconsistent and sometimes fatal fever in humans.

Clay Caswell (left), assistant professor of bacteriology, seeks to better understand brucellosis with Ph.D. students James Budnick and Lauren Sheehan.

Clay Caswell (left), assistant professor of bacteriology, seeks to better understand brucellosis with Ph.D. students James Budnick and Lauren Sheehan.

Clay Caswell, assistant professor of bacteriology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute, has focused his attention on Brucella. While his colleagues at the veterinary college have spent years developing more-effective vaccines, Caswell is taking a different approach to better understand the molecular basis for Brucella infection.

Brucella lives inside a host immune cell called a ‘macrophage,’ “ said Caswell, who is studying how two small regulatory RNAs allow the bacterium to survive there. “The paradox is that it’s living inside the very cell that’s trying to destroy it.”

Caswell has received funding from the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station to characterize a novel genetic pathway linked to the bacterium’s virulence. He has also been awarded recent grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health to develop the basic science needed to develop treatments in humans who are exposed through unpasteurized milk and other means.

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‘Proactive’ programming in Loudoun County tackles foodborne illness from the ground up

Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths linked to foodborne illness. Twenty foodborne illness outbreaks were reported in 2013 in Virginia alone, with an average of 18 Virginia residents sickened per outbreak.

In Loudoun County, Virginia Cooperative Extension has spent the past two years delivering food safety education programming to locals. In 2015, this included a farmer’s market “Vendor Tuneup” workshop, a presentation on safe food preparation at a farmer’s market annual meeting, a pH testing workshop, two ServSafe Manager courses, on-site evaluations of farms and kitchen operations, and consulting.

In 2016, Extension added onto the program list with food safety and direct marketing workshops for growers, farmers market food safety workshops, ServSafe, a drinking water clinic, and more.

Two greenhouse operations in the area were trained on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and food safety practices, and have implemented changes as a result of this effort.

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Water testing program helps get the lead out

Virginia Tech’s recent discovery of abnormally high amounts of lead in the Flint, Michigan, water system has made safe drinking water a hot topic. But while the water in Flint came from a municipal source, private water systems, such as wells, springs, and cisterns, are not immune to this problem.

Emily Hutchins of Blacksburg, Virginia, fills water collection bottles.

Emily Hutchins of Blacksburg, Virginia, fills water collection bottles.

Testing conducted though Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Household Water Quality Program has found high levels of lead in private systems around the state.

Kelsey Pieper, a researcher on the Flint team who received her doctorate from Virginia Tech, was the primary author on the study that found 1 in 5 private systems had lead concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency standard for municipal systems. About 45 percent of the samples contained coliform bacteria and 10 percent contained E. coli.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension keeps food supply safe for consumers and viable for businesses in Loudon County

When a Loudon County businesswoman needed some help to make sure her food was safe for consumers and she had the needed knowledge on how to increase her business, she knew just where to look.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is playing an important role in keeping the food supply safe for consumers, as well as viable for businesses throughout the commonwealth.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is playing an important role in keeping the food supply safe for consumers, as well as viable for businesses throughout the commonwealth.

“The Loudoun County Extension Office and Virginia Cooperative Extension have been invaluable to us in many ways as we’ve grown our business,” said a local greenhouse owner. “At one of the first classes I attended they talked a lot about GAP, or Good Agricultural Practice. As a food consumer, I was happy to find out all that’s involved in food safety.”

Virginia Cooperative Extension is playing an important role in keeping the food supply safe for consumers, as well as viable for businesses throughout the commonwealth.

The need for food safety regulation and training has increased with the amended Food Safety Modernization Act and the rise in popularity and consumption of fresh local foods.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension encourages residents to plan ahead during National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 15-21.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is encouraging residents to plan ahead during National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 15-21, 2016. Hurricanes are one of the most common natural disasters that Virginia experiences. In addition to high winds, other hazards also follow hurricanes including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and tornadoes.   Hurricane season begins June 1, so begin planning now.

One of the greatest hazard risks for Virginia residents during hurricane season is flooding. This risk is particularly high in the many coastal communities of Virginia where the elevation is very low and the impact from storm surge is increased. However, inland areas are also susceptible to flooding, especially along rivers and streams that can overflow their banks during intense and sustained periods of rainfall. Even if you have never experienced a flood in the past, it doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future.

What many homeowners don’t know is that standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not typically cover flooding. In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program to help provide a means for property owners and those who rent property to financially protect themselves. However, to be eligible for flood insurance, you must live in a community that participates in the NFIP. Fortunately, most communities in Virginia do participate in the NFIP. To find the listing, go to: https://www.fema.gov/cis/VA.html In addition, not all insurance companies participate with the NFIP to sell and service flood insurance policies, so check with your local provider to find out if they do.

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