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Weekly News Roundup 8/7 to 8/13

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Dog who died at veterinary school hospital tested positive for coronavirus

North Carolina health officials on Tuesday reported the state’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in a dog. The dog died last week at the North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital (NCSU). The SARS-CoV-2 virus was confirmed by both the hospital lab and by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories. The dog’s cause of death is still undetermined. The dog was taken to NCSU on August 3 after showing signs of respiratory distress, officials said. The owner told staff at the veterinary hospital that a family member had previously tested positive for coronavirus. There remains no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the virus. . . . more

Students, recent grads from underrepresented backgrounds are building spaces for themselves

More groups representing individuals underrepresented in veterinary medicine are launching within the profession; most are being led by younger veterinarians or students. The founders and members of these groups are banding together to share resources, create community, and tell their stories. The leaders of five of these groups talked about their goals for the future and how they’re creating a space for members—who are largely Black, indigenous, people of color, or LGBTQ+—to be seen. . . . more

Study suggests animals think probabilistically to distinguish contexts

Among the many things rodents have taught neuroscientists is that, in a region called the hippocampus, the brain creates a new map for every unique spatial context—for instance, a different room or maze. But scientists have so far struggled to learn how animals decide when a context is novel enough to merit creating, or at least revising, these mental maps. In a new study, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University propose a new understanding: the process of “remapping” can be mathematically modeled as a feat of probabilistic reasoning by the rodents. . . . more

Could cat medicine treat humans with COVID-19?

A type of coronavirus that only infects cats can cause feline enteric coronavirus, an infection that affects the gastrointestinal tract and seldom causes any symptoms. However, in about 1 in 10 infected cats, the virus mutates after infecting the animal in a way that lets it infiltrate specific immune cells, spread throughout the body, and set off severe inflammation. At this stage, the infection is called feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) and is usually fatal if left untreated. Two experimental drugs have been designed to treat cats with FIPV, although neither has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. That said, preliminary research hints that both drugs could be used to battle human coronaviruses, including COVID-19. . . . more

Study: 1 in 4 puppies are taken from their mothers prematurely

One in four people acquired their puppies before the advised age of eight weeks old, according to a new study from the UK. In the study, researchers at the University of Bristol follow a generation of puppies over the course of their lifetime to investigate how factors such as environment, social interaction, diet, and exercise can impact their development in later life. Early findings from 1,844 dogs who had been recruited for the study revealed that 25% of owners got their puppies before eight weeks of age, contrary to current thinking that puppies should not leave their mothers before eight weeks of age. The study also found that 8% of puppies were acquired without the owner having seen them alongside their mothers. . . . more