Series

No two flu seasons are alike — from one year to the next, different types of the influenza virus dominate. Every year, virologists, health officials and healthcare providers marshall their resources to prevent and treat infections. When a flu season is particularly tough, as was the case in 2017-18, the illness tests limitations and vulnerabilities in the public health system. Wisconsin plays a crucial role in a nationwide network of influenza surveillance, which is also on guard for the emergence of a global flu pandemic. Meeting future challenges of influenza hinges on relationships that connect scientists and healthcare providers at local, state, federal and international levels.More
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Rural Wisconsin faces a broad array of economic challenges. Many communities are experiencing a decrease in population and struggling to retain young people and attract newcomers. As the workforce ages, additional factors including limited infrastructure, agricultural and manufacturing business woes, and the dictates of distance and cost can combine to frustrate entrepreneurial and job opportunities. At the same time, the distinct attributes of rural areas can encourage economic development, and both public and private efforts to revitalize individual communities and broader regions are being pursued around the state. One particularly notable element is access to broadband internet, which is sparse in many rural areas but has the potential to be transformational for both work and lifestyle. Rural Wisconsin's economy is changing, but its future course has yet to be charted.More
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Opioid overdoses kill hundreds of Wisconsinites every year, amid a nationwide surge in painkiller and heroin abuse that's been building since the turn of the century. Opioids are a category of pain relief drugs that include long-known substances like morphine and heroin, but also powerful synthetic pharmaceuticals like hydrocodone and fentanyl. Years of widespread opioid prescriptions helped initiate the crisis, and the increasing cheap cost of these drugs fueled the spread of abuse in rural, suburban and urban communities alike. All levels of government are mobilizing to address opioid abuse, and like many states, Wisconsin is adopting policies that focus on public health approaches over emphasizing criminalization. As the contours of this epidemic continues to shift, so do efforts to contain and reverse it among health care providers, law enforcement and community organizations.More
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Since the turn of the century, Wisconsin's population has steadily grown more diverse, but there has also been growing understanding that the state has some of the worst racial disparities in the United States. Particularly stark indicators come in the form of health, education and housing struggles of racial minorities. These problems have deep roots in Wisconsin, from the establishment of Native American reservations to the treatment of the state's first Latin-American and African-American residents to the segregation of neighborhoods in Milwaukee. A growing body of research across disciplines ranging from public health to economics is revealing the far-reaching impacts of structural racism, and in the process outlines the challenges policymakers, educators and health care providers will need to address to make Wisconsin an equitable place for all people.More
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Energy is an essential necessity of human life that powers individual everyday needs and the economy as a whole. Its sources span millenia, from draft animals and wood to coal and oil to nuclear fission. Advancing technology continues to transform energy production, and renewable sources like solar, wind and biofuels are increasingly used. A growing number of homeowners, businesses and communities across Wisconsin are considering renewables as part of their own energy portfolios. The backdrop of a changing climate is one motivation for these shifts, as are changing consumer demand, investment opportunities and public policy incentives. As the state's energy landscape adapts to meet new opportunities, researchers are investigating the potential of renewables and evaluating challenges to pursuing sustainable and secure sources.More
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