Weekly News Roundup 5/15 to 5/21


Airport dogs could sniff out coronavirus

Sniffer dogs are already a common sight in United Kingdom airports—usually, they’re looking out for drugs, weapons, or other contraband. But specially trained dogs have also been trained to detect infections and diseases, including cancer, malaria, and Parkinson’s disease. Now, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with charity Medical Detection Dogs and the UK’s Durham University, say respiratory diseases change body odor, and they reckon trained dogs will be able to pick up this shift on people with COVID-19. The UK government has given the team more than $600,000 to put toward the research. The preliminary trial has recruited six dogs, dubbed “The Super Six,” all either Labrador retrievers or cocker spaniels. . . . more

New veterinary colleges aim to open in COVID-19 era

As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on much of higher education, plans at new and emerging veterinary programs persist, bringing the number of accredited veterinary colleges in the United States to 32. Officials with Long Island University and the University of Arizona, which are welcoming their first veterinary classes on August 24, both report that their biggest uncertainties revolve around the logistics of how to teach—in person or online. Universities nationwide have transitioned to online instruction while absorbing revenue losses from on-campus housing, suspended or eliminated sporting events, and suspended medical care at teaching hospitals. Many institutions, even major universities, are eliminating entire academic programs and firing or furloughing staff. . . . more

Fears for cats increase after new study shows they can be infected with coronavirus

Evidence continues to mount that cats need to either be kept at a distance or confined to your bubble after a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found laboratory cats can readily become infected with SARS-CoV-2. These infected cats were then put in cages with new cats—and, within days, they had passed the virus along. The findings suggest pet cats may be capable of becoming infected with the virus when exposed to people or other cats positive for SARS-CoV-2. “It’s something for people to keep in mind,” says Peter Halfmann, PhD, a research professor at the University of Wisconsin, who helped lead the study. “If they are quarantined in their house and are worried about passing COVID-19 to children and spouses, they should also worry about giving it to their animals.” . . . more

People drive more carefully when their dog is in the car

Research out of the United Kingdom has found drivers take more care on the road and are less stressed behind the wheel when driving with their pet dog in the car. A survey of 2,000 dog-owning drivers found that 54% of respondents drove more carefully when they had their pet in the car. Having their pet as a passenger also aided stress levels, with 35% of those surveyed saying they felt calmer with their dog in the car. Younger drivers, in particular, took their pet's safety seriously, with 69% of those aged 18 to 24 admitting to being extra cautious in the presence of their pet, compared with 45% of respondents over 55. However, the research also found a troubling lack of awareness around the safety of dogs in cars, with a third of dog-owning drivers admitting they weren’t sure whether there were any rules around traveling with dogs in the car. One-fifth of respondents said they didn't restrain their pets at all. . . . more

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