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Terms and Dates:

  • Summer 2019
One Time Opportunity


Valerie Reyna

Cornell Affiliations:

Human Ecology, Cornell Cooperative Extension


Worksite Location: Tompkins County/CCE Tompkins office

Opportunity Description

Growth in raw milk consumption has increased foodborne illnesses in NYS. Raw milk poses a serious health risk to pregnant women, infants, and the elderly. According to the CDC, from 1993 to 2012, there were 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk and caused 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. Many raw milk outbreaks affect children – 59% of outbreaks from 2007 to 2012 involved a child under the age of 5. The CDC recently reported that 81% of all raw milk-related illnesses are due to campylobacter bacteria. Further, campylobacter is increasingly resistant to antibiotics - in 2015, 50% of campylobacter samples tested in NYS were antibiotic-resistant. Cooperative Extension educates the public more about food safety than other organizations, including public health (35% vs. 21%). Educating the public about raw milk risks addresses both pathogens and antibiotic resistance that impact the health of New Yorkers. Pro- and anti-raw milk groups use social media to promote their views. We will analyze these tweets to better understand why people engage in risky behavior (drinking raw milk) and why social media messages about it propagate (influencing others to drink or not drink raw milk). Understanding the reasoning for engaging in this risky behavior will result in the ability to create more effective prevention materials and techniques. The intern will help us develop a survey, recruit community groups and give them a survey measuring memory for presented information and other knowledge and attitude tests, plus fuzzy trace theory concepts. Also, the intern will work with our CCE partner to identify social media platforms and community engagement strategies for our outreach goals.