Around the Big Ten

News from the home cities and states of the Big Ten universities:

PURDUE: Scientists join battle against egg-borne salmonella

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Purdue University scientists are testing samples from Indiana's chicken farms as part of a new federal push targeting the spread of a potentially fatal illness found in undercooked, infected eggs.

Dozens of samples taken from the farms are arriving each week at the Purdue-based Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to test for salmonella enteritidis, the bacteria that can lead to salmonellosis in humans.

The illness causes fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea, and can be deadly in the very young and people with weakened immune systems by spreading beyond the intestine to the bloodstream.

The testing is part of a fairly new federal requirement.

"The object is to reduce the illness from salmonella – prevent it from spreading into food," said Steve Hooser, director of the state's Toxicology Section at the Purdue lab.

To handle the influx of samples, the lab has spent the past year developing a uniform testing procedure for salmonella enteritidis.

Hooser said that to get a sample, egg producers must literally take a swab and run it through all the excrement on the floors of poultry houses. He said those samples are needed to get a true picture of what's on those floors.

Ching Ching Wu, a professor of comparative pathobiology at Purdue, developed the testing technique, including explicit instructions on how samples should be handled so that tests can be reliably repeated.

Growing, testing and identifying a salmonella sample at the lab on the campus' south side takes up to 10 days.

Under the Food and Drug Administration rule that took effect last year, farms with at least 50,000 laying hens that do not sell all their eggs directly to consumers must meet the first compliance deadline of July 9.

Farms with fewer than 50,000 but at least 3,000 laying hens have until July 9, 2012.

The regulation does not apply to producers with fewer than 3,000 laying hens.

Proper refrigeration and cooking of eggs until the yolks are firm reduces the risk of contracting salmonella, according to the FDA.

Paul Brennan, executive vice president of the Purdue-based Indiana State Poultry Association, said the industry already has adopted programs to reduce the risk of salmonella infections.

Disinfecting poultry houses, getting rid of salmonella-carrying rodents and pest control programs are doing the job. Brennan said he believes much of the work for reducing salmonella in the egg industry "is already in place."

Producers can send samples to Purdue and other labs or even create their own approved testing facilities under the FDA rule, which spells out what producers must do if poultry houses or eggs test positive for salmonella.

If salmonella is found in eggs, the producer must process the eggs to destroy the bacteria or divert the eggs to a nonfood use until four consecutive egg tests over an eight-week period are negative.

Poultry houses that test positive must be cleaned and disinfected.

PURDUE: Indiana farm fatalities down for 1st time in 3 years

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Indiana's farm fatalities decreased last year for the first time in three years.

Wednesday's annual report by Purdue University shows that 20 Indiana residents died last year in farm-related accidents, down from 28 in 2008 and 24 in 2007.

The report says three of the deaths resulted from tractor rollovers, while six people died when they were run over by a tractor or implement.

Four workers at commercial grain facilities died after they were entrapped in grain.

The report also says three Indiana children under age 10 died from accidents involving farm trucks and skid loaders.

The full Farm Fatality Summary is available at http://www.farmsafety.org

MICHIGAN STATE: $4 million study seeking better beans

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan State University is part of a $4 million, four-year federal study to improve the nutrition and economic value of the common bean.

Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Jim Kelly is participating in the study, backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The project involves 26 researchers from 16 U.S. institutions. North Dakota State University's Phillip McClean heads the project.

The research seeks to develop breeder-friendly genomic research tools to select for traits such as yield, plant shape, processing quality, drought tolerance, disease resistance and nutrition.

Common beans include black, navy, pinto, great northern, kidney and snap beans. They're the mostly widely eaten legumes.

IOWA: Universities get federal research money

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – State officials have announced more than $1 million in federal grant money to three colleges in Iowa.

The University of Iowa will get more than $700,000 in grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services for research on oral diseases and disorders.

The Department of Education has awarded two grants.

Loras College will receive $200,000 and for educational science equipment and Iowa Valley Community College will get $165,000 for equipment designed to improve health occupation programs.

IOWA: University looks for housing with record freshman class

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The University of Iowa is bracing for a housing crunch with a record number of freshmen this fall.

To meet the housing needs, the university is considering leasing private apartments.

University officials told the Iowa Board of Regents at Wednesday's meeting in Vinton that it expects a freshman class of nearly 4,500 students, mostly due to an increase in out-of state and international students.

The university presented plans for a new residence hall, but that won't be ready until 2013. In the meantime, officials are negotiating to lease private apartments that would be used by upperclassmen.

University spokesman Tom Rocklin says the apartments would be run like a residence hall, with programming and dining plans.

IOWA: University president: No answers for alcohol arrests

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – University leaders admit they have few answers to a surge in alcohol arrests on their campuses.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason says her school is attempting to analyze what is going on, but has not come up with no single or simple answer.

Mason said there could be an increase in charges because UI has significantly increased the number of public safety officers and is assisting Iowa City police with patrolling downtown.

The University of Iowa reported a 53 percent increase in alcohol-related offenses between Jan. 1 and March 31 when compared with the same period in 2009. There also has been a spike in driving-under-the-influence offenses.

Iowa State University saw a 46 percent increase in alcohol-related offenses. The University of Northern Iowa reported marginal increases in disorderly-conduct and drunken driving offenses.

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