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Weekly News Roundup 3/27 to 4/2

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A cat appears to have caught the coronavirus, but it’s complicated

A cat in Belgium seems to have become infected with the coronavirus and may have had COVID-19, the disease that the virus causes. While the case—the first reported in cats—suggests that the animals can catch the virus, there is no evidence that felines play a role in spreading the coronavirus, and it’s still unclear how susceptible they are to the disease. The cat probably picked up the virus from its owner, who fell ill with COVID-19 after traveling to northern Italy. About a week later, the cat started to show signs of illness: respiratory issues, nausea, and diarrhea. In lab tests, feces and vomit samples showed high levels of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material. But that positive result comes with caveats. . . . more

Canadian researchers: Antiviral used to treat cat coronavirus could hold key to COVID-19

University of Alberta (UA) researchers are racing against the clock to test an antiviral drug that has been proven to cure a cat of coronavirus and is hoped to have the same effect on people with COVID-19. “Our lab has been working as fast as we can to get our results out,” said biochemist Joanne Lemieux, PhD, MSc. “We have not taken weekends; the days of the week have blurred. We’re all working nonstop to get results as fast as we can.” The project is 1 of 11 at the UA to receive funding from the Canadian government’s $52.6 million investment in COVID-19 research. . . . more

Coronavirus threatens other areas of scientific progress, researchers fear

On a normal day, Maddie LaRue would wake up, head to her lab, and get to work. As a PhD candidate at New York University studying pancreatic cancer, and just months away from defending her thesis, she’s spent years getting to this point—years of cultivating a mouse colony with a particular genetic composition, harvesting cells from those mice, and then growing the cells in petri dishes to study their metabolism. Her goal: to understand how pancreatic cancer cells grow. And the pursuit of that goal requires a daily presence, not only to run experiments and analyze results but to simply ensure that the mice and cells are cared for and maintained. But with COVID-19 proliferating throughout the US, these are not normal days. . . . more

Veterinary colleges go online only amid COVID-19 concerns

Margaret V. Root Kustritz, DVM, PhD, didn’t expect veterinary colleges to handle going online only as well as they have. “If you had asked me a month ago, ‘Would you be prepared?’ I think I would have said ‘I am not sure,’ but boy, have I been so pleased,” said Root Kustritz, associate dean of education at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “We are prepared to educate our students, and we are prepared as a profession.” Root Kustritz is among leaders at veterinary colleges across the world who have been faced with developing alternative teaching methods quickly for veterinary students who are practicing social distancing to lower the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Veterinary educators also seem optimistic about students being on track to graduate and are hopeful because of how everyone has come together. . . . more

Man arrested after high-speed chase told police he was teaching his dog to drive

A man was arrested in Washington State last Sunday after a high-speed car chase, but he wasn't in the driver’s seat—his pet pit bull was. The 51-year-old man is facing several charges, including driving under the influence, reckless driving, hit and run, and felony eluding, officials said. The suspect was driving a 1996 Buick when authorities say he struck two vehicles and fled on Interstate 5. Officials said the vehicle at one point was traveling over 100 mph. Eventually, troopers used spike strips to end the chase, and during the arrest, the driver told police that he was “trying to teach his dog how to drive.” . . . more