Weekly News Roundup 6/12 to 6/18


Coronaviruses extremely widespread in wildlife trade

Clinical coronaviruses are extremely widespread in wild animals bred for food in Vietnam, with the wildlife supply chain quickly spreading those viruses to uninfected animals, preliminary research shows. The study did not find the specific strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but it illustrates how efficiently the $300 billion global wildlife trade amplifies animal viruses and brings them into contact with humans—the exact process most scientists suspect is behind the emergence of COVID-19 at a wet market in Wuhan. “These results are pretty much what all of us in this business expect,” said Hamish McCallum, PhD, a wildlife disease ecologist at Griffith University’s Environmental Futures Research Institute in Queensland, Australia. “If you wanted a way to transfer viruses between species and amplify them, you couldn’t find a better way to do it than wildlife trading.” . . . more

Dogs biting fewer postal workers

This is Dog Bite Awareness Week, and, far from being a cartoonish cliché, dog attacks on postal workers are a harsh reality, with thousands of incidents occurring across the US every year. The US Postal Service records dog attacks on its employees at city and state levels, and published the latest ranking earlier this month. A total of 5,714 postal employees were attacked by dogs during their rounds in 2018. The good news is that the number of incidents is continuing to fall, with 500 fewer employees attacked last year than in 2017, and 1,000 fewer were attacked than in 2016. . . . more

Surgeons perform first known US lung transplant for COVID-19 patient

A former COVID-19 patient has received a double-lung transplant, a surgery believed to be the first of its kind in the United States since the pandemic began, medical officials announced Thursday. Northwestern Medicine in Chicago said the recipient, a woman in her twenties who would not have survived without the transplant, is in intensive care recovering from the operation and two previous months on lung- and heart-assistance devices. Ankit Bharat, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of Northwestern’s lung transplant program, said organ transplantation may become more frequent for victims of the most severe forms of COVID-19. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus most commonly attacks the respiratory system but also can inflict damage on kidneys, hearts, blood vessels, and the neurological system. . . . more

A street cat named Bob dies

Bob, a cat whose relationship with the recovering heroin addict who adopted him inspired the book and film A Street Cat Named Bob, died Monday. He was at least 14. Publisher Hodder & Stoughton said in a statement that Bob “was an extraordinary cat who will be greatly missed.” Bob’s life took him from the streets of London to red carpet premieres as a film star. Musician James Bowen found the ginger cat abandoned and injured in 2007 and adopted him. The cat was soon accompanying Bowen as he busked and sold The Big Issue, a magazine that generates income for the homeless, on the streets of London, England. . . . more

How much is that robo-dog in the window? $74,500

Want a dog without the pain of house training him? Or feeding or walking him? Well, you still can’t have one, but Boston Dynamics has begun selling Spot, its robotic dog, to businesses. Spot is up for any task without the need for treats. The company announced that businesses can preorder Spot for a mere $74,500. The four-legged agile robot has garnered attention for the tasks it can perform, which include running, climbing stairs, and even reminding people to practice social distancing in the COVID-19 era. Tuesday’s announcement opens availability up for the dog, which was previously used exclusively by “domestic and international businesses and research facilities,” the website said. It’s generally used for inspections on construction sites or similar situations. . . . more