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Weekly News Roundup 10/2 to 10/8

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Multistate Salmonella outbreaks tied to pet hedgehogs, lizards

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced two separate outbreaks of Salmonella in states across the United States, totaling 43 cases. Through whole-genome sequencing, public health investigators have traced the outbreaks to hedgehogs (Salmonella typhimurium) and bearded dragons (Salmonella muenster), but no common source for either has been found yet. Although the CDC has listed no new cases as of September 22 and September 25 for the bearded dragon– and hedgehog-related cases, respectively, it takes about two to four weeks from when the illness occurs for it to be added to the investigation numbers. . . . more

Evidence of a cat recognizing and mimicking human behavior

A small team of researchers with Eötvös Loránd University's Department of Ethology in Budapest has observed an instance of a house cat recognizing and then mimicking human behavior. The group has written a paper describing their observations and published it in the journal Animal Cognition. Very few species have been observed imitating human behavior—only orcas, apes, elephants, dolphins, and magpies—and now, that list has grown to include house cats. The finding comes as a surprise because cats were not thought to possess the necessary cognitive abilities to intentionally mimic the actions of other creatures. . . . more

Ancient North Americans bred dogs for their wool: Study

Some people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest selectively bred special “wool dogs” to make blankets from their hair, perhaps thousands of years before Europeans arrived in the area, new research suggests. The study reinforces accounts by European explorers and traditional histories of special wool dogs in the region, and indicates the cultural importance of dogs—the only animal who had been domesticated when the first peoples crossed from Siberia to North America at least 17,000 years ago. It also reveals the economic importance of wool dogs to some coastal communities, where blankets, robes, and belts woven from dog wool, sometimes mixed with other fibers, were prized before the influx of textiles from industrialized Europe. . . . more

Community College of Denver launches nation’s first veterinary technician apprenticeship program

Something is happening at the Community College of Denver (CCD) that has never happened anywhere in the United States before. “We are the first Veterinary Technician Apprenticeship program in the country,” said Apprenticeship Manager Jennifer Gunther. CCD wants students to learn at school and at work, according to Gunther. “Absolutely critical, this is a technical program,” Gunther said. “Learning through a textbook is certainly a huge part of it, but then being able to implement that.” Students going through the apprenticeship will work more than 2,000 hours in a local veterinary hospital in addition to taking classes at CCD. . . . more

Researchers develop publicly available COVID-19 animal susceptibility prediction tool

A team of experts in virology, genetics, structural biology, chemistry, physiology, medicine, immunology, and pharmacology from Vanderbilt University has developed technology to understand and predict animal susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. The group has also released a publicly available tool to enable people to understand the likelihood of other animals’ susceptibility. The article, “Predicting susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection based on structural differences in ACE2 across species,” was published this week in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. Among their findings: horses and camels may be at increased risk of the virus. . . . more