Public Health | Policy Briefs

Chronic Wasting Disease and Policy Options

October 2018. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always fatal neurodegenerative disease found in both farmed and wild cervids. It poses a large threat to the deer and elk populations, and may also have public health implications. Limited knowledge about the nature of CWD makes developing management strategies challenging.

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The Raw Milk Paradox in Minnesota

September 2018. The sale and consumption of raw milk is a controversial issue in the United States. Many advocates for raw milk value its perceived health benefits, environmentally-friendly practices, and consumer choice.  Advocates for pasteurized milk--wary of the health risks associated with unpasteurized milk--tend to emphasize the food safety benefits of pasteurization, as well as the lack of scientific data to support purported health benefits of raw milk.

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Pre-Pandemic Mass Vaccination

August 2016. Public health experts are concerned that the next human influenza pandemic will be caused by the novel Influenza A virus H5N1. Vaccination is the most effective strategy for preventing influenza infection in humans and reducing the severity of disease caused by influenza viruses. However, pre-pandemic mass vaccination in humans for the H5N1 virus is not currently used as a control strategy since the virus is constantly changing and public health officials cannot accurately predict the pandemic strain.

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One Health Collaboration to Eliminate Neglected Zoonotic Diseases

September 2015. Many zoonoses are classified as neglected zoonotic diseases (NZDs) due to the low priority given to them by governments, the international public health community and aid groups. NZDs debilitate people and limit work productivity while also decreasing the productivity and welfare of the livestock on which most poor rural communities depend. NZDs can be a serious drain on a country’s economy, which can have wider repercussions, trapping citizens in a cycle of poverty and disease.

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Raw Milk and Implications for Public Health

March 2014. Consumer demand exists for the sale of unpasteurized (i.e., raw) milk, driven by a number of consumer interests. Current Minnesota law allows “occasional” sale of raw milk only by dairy producers on the farm where the milk was produced. Public health investigations have identified links between raw milk consumption and foodborne illness outbreaks caused by a range of pathogens in Minnesota and other states. While sanitation inspections and regular product testing may decrease the health risks of raw milk, multiple policy options exist regarding regulation of raw milk sales.

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Hunting Ammunition and Implications for Public Health

March 2014. Multiple types of hunting ammunition are available with varying ballistics and public health implications. Game meat harvested with lead ammunition may be contaminated with lead fragments, and ingestion of lead fragments in game meat may present health risks, especially to women and children. There is no level of lead exposure in children known to be without adverse effects. Public health risks can be mitigated by use of alternative hunting ammunitions.

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Backyard Poultry: Implications for Public Health and Safety

August 2013. Keeping backyard poultry is predominately regulated at the local level through county and city ordinances and zoning. Keeping backyard poultry as pets may contribute to overall human well-being through their companionship. However, backyard poultry also can expose people to disease; live birds can appear healthy and show no sign of illness while carrying germs and bacteria that can make humans sick.

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Food Irradiation and Public Health

November 2012. The US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recognize the potential of food irradiation to prevent many infectious diseases that are transmitted by meat, poultry, fresh produce and other foods. Irradiation has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to kill harmful and spoilage bacteria and pests on many varieties of foods. However, food irradiation currently is underutilized, most likely due to limited processing capacity, demand uncertainty, consumer perceptions, and the feelings of some organizations that more research is needed.

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