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Weekly News Roundup 5/29 to 6/4

Minnesota cat contracts COVID-19

The cat was recently brought to a veterinarian after its owner had tested positive for COVID-19 a week earlier. The cat presented for examination with a fever of 105 and upper respiratory symptoms. The veterinarian collected samples, and the test later returned positive for SARS-CoV-2, according to a statement released Tuesday, June 3, by Michael Crusan of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Upon recommendation by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Health, the cat remained at home for 14 days following the visit. The animal recovered after 5 days, officials said. A dog also lives in the house, health officials said, but has not contracted the illness at this time. . . more 

Dogs are instinctively wired to protect owners, research shows

In a new study, researchers found dogs will instinctively try to help people in distress, even without emergency training. Until now, little research has been done on why dogs will rush to aid someone in trouble. Psychologist Clive Wynne, PhD, and graduate student Joshua Van Bourg of Arizona State University’s canine science laboratory assessed how likely 60 pet dogs were to rescue their owners. None of the dogs had training in such an endeavor. In the main test, each owner was confined to a large box equipped with a lightweight door, which the dog could move aside. The owners feigned distress by calling out “help,” or “help me.” The owners were coached so their cries for help sounded authentic. . . . more

New cat virus discovered after “mysterious” outbreak at British Columbia shelter

A “mysterious” and “contagious” disease outbreak at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (SPCA) Community Animal Center in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), has led to the discovery of a new feline virus, the BC SPCA has now confirmed. The organization said it first became concerned about the situation in 2018, when eight cats fell ill on a single day at their Vancouver facility. The affected felines presented “symptoms similar to a human ‘stomach flu’—vomiting [and] diarrhea, followed by recovery within a few days in most cases,” the SPCA said. And when their tests came back negative, BC SPCA senior manager Emilia Gordon, DVM, said she and her team became worried that another type of virus or bacteria could be the culprit. . . . more

Fast-clotting blood makes dogs more vulnerable to snakebites

New research by the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia has found snake venom is twice as likely to be fatal to dogs than to other household pets. Through evolution, dogs’ blood clots faster than many other animals, including cats, as they sustain more injuries and must recover quicker in the wild. The UQ researchers found that dogs’ ability to clot blood faster made them more vulnerable to venom. “A dog would reach that level of lethal pathophysiological state much sooner than, say, cats, so there’s a huge difference in how quickly they go down,” said Bryan Fry, PhD, of the university’s Venom Evolution Lab. . . . more

Scientists develop COVID-19 test for dolphins, sea turtles

Scientists are developing coronavirus tests for marine mammals and say the research could ultimately benefit humans. “We know that dolphins and whales do get coronaviruses, but we don’t know if they're susceptible to COVID-19 specifically,” said Tracy Romano, PhD, a neuroimmunologist who’s leading a team of scientists at Mystic Aquarium in Stonington, Connecticut. “We’re hoping to find that out but also learn more about coronaviruses in general and what pathogens impact whales.” The scientists in Connecticut and Massachusetts also plan to test seals and sea turtles. In an interview, Romano said researchers want to answer a key question: “Is there something unique in their immune system that might enable them to fight off pathogens that could contribute to human medicine as well?” . . . more