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Weekly News Roundup 7/10 to 7/16

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Ontario’s Feral Cat Project works through COVID-induced obstacles

As COVID cases in Malheur County continue to rise, volunteers at Ontario’s Feral Cat Project worry they will hit another round of roadblocks in their mission to reduce feral cat overpopulation and give cats permanent homes. The project, started in 2009, has run into obstacles throughout the pandemic, including a smaller staff, fewer donations, and reduced access to veterinary hospitals. Cathy Rohrer, a Feral Cat Project volunteer and board member, said many of the project’s volunteers are older individuals who are particularly at risk of catching COVID. Because of that, many volunteers had to temporarily step back, leaving the project short of help. . . . more  

Desperate cat owners are buying illegal cat drugs on Facebook’s black market

A single glance at foster kitten Harper told Jessica Thompson, DVM, all she needed to know. Harper’s once-velvety gray coat was greasy and dull. She was still small—just five pounds—but her abdomen swelled like she had a baseball in her stomach. In the clinic, Thompson used a syringe to remove cloudy, yellowish fluid from the five-month-old cat. She had seen these symptoms two years before, in two other foster kittens. The disease, known as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), is caused by a mutant form of a common feline virus. It most frequently strikes cats at the beginning and end of their lives, when their immune system is the weakest. Historically, FIP has been 100% fatal. And there is a potential cure—but it’s only available via black market. . . . more

University of Idaho Agricultural College combines animal, veterinary, and food sciences into new department

A move to better align the University of Idaho’s (U of I) efforts with the state’s agricultural industry will combine animal, veterinary, and food sciences research, education, and outreach into one department. The Idaho State Board of Education in June approved the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences proposal, which took effect July 1. Eight food science faculty members joined twenty-two animal and veterinary science faculty to expand collaborative efforts and establish the new Department of Animal, Veterinary, and Food Sciences. The change reflected a joint decision by U of I and Washington State University in January to dissolve the Bi-State School of Food Science. The change will allow each university to refocus on its state’s priorities. . . . more

Zoo Miami gorilla gets COVID-19 test during treatment for bites

A 31-year-old lowland gorilla named Shango received a coronavirus test as he was immobilized for a procedure on Wednesday. According to Zoo Miami, Shango was taken to the zoo’s animal hospital for treatment of several wounds inflicted by his 26-year-old brother during a confrontation. Shango received X-rays, vaccines, an ultrasound, a TB test and bronchoscopy, and a coronavirus test. The zoo said the tests were negative.  . . . more

Researchers grapple with anxiety, new policies as universities reopen

Four months ago, researchers scrambled to save their work as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered universities and closed labs. Now, with restrictions lifting—even as cases rise in some parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world—many researchers are cautiously returning to work, socially distanced, and with masks in hand. Many of the precautions they are taking in their labs resemble those put in place in businesses and restaurants: wearing face masks, maintaining a physical distance from others, and staying home as much as possible. But lab work presents unique complications and calls for additional policies and culture shifts, scientists say. . . . more