Weekly News Roundup 10/30 to 11/5



Georgia couple starts nonprofit to fight scarcity of minority veterinarians

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the estimated 104,000 veterinarians in America, there are so few Black veterinarians that, statistically, their percentage registers as 0.0%. Citing similar data, The Atlantic magazine in 2013 reported that being a veterinarian was “the whitest job in America.” Ian Scholer, DVM, and Megan Scholer, want to change that. Ian is a veterinarian in Evans, Georgia, and Megan resigned from her teaching career to devote more time to their four children. Now, they’re both devoting more time to Vets of All Colors, a nonprofit they kicked off officially in October. The goal is to build more interest among all school-age children to pursue careers in veterinary science, and to give minority students in particular the financial help to complete the schooling necessary to treat and heal animals. . . . more

New app claims to translate what cats say so humans can understand

Plenty of technological advances may be regarded as the cat’s meow. Here’s one that claims to actually understand what cats are saying. Javier Sanchez, a technical program manager at a Bellevue, Washington–based tech company, has built a cat translation app called “MeowTalk” that he hopes will change how people interact with their feline friends. Using data science and machine learning, MeowTalk listens to the sounds a cat makes and offers up a human language translation. With user input, an out-of-the-box version of the app can be trained to understand a specific cat. . . .more

Dean of UC Davis veterinary school to step down

Michael Lairmore, DVM, PhD, has announced that he will step down as dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine in June, after nearly 10 years in office. He will take a sabbatical, then resume his career as a distinguished professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology. After joining the school in 2011, Lairmore developed and led a comprehensive strategic plan that has guided the school to tremendous progress during his two five-year terms as dean. . . . more

Where—and how many times—were dogs domesticated?

Sometime toward the end of the last ice age, a gray wolf gingerly approached a human encampment. Those first tentative steps set his species on the path to a dramatic transformation: By at least 15,000 years ago, those wolves had become dogs, and neither they nor their human companions would ever be the same. But just how this relationship evolved over the ensuing millennia has been a mystery. Now, in the most comprehensive comparison yet of ancient dog and human DNA, scientists are starting to fill in some of the blanks, revealing where dogs and humans traveled together—and where they may have parted ways. . . . more

New study finds upper respiratory infections in felines significantly decreased with ultraviolet air disinfection

Upper respiratory infections in an animal shelter’s kitten nursery decreased 87.1%—“a significant decrease”—when ultraviolet germicidal irradiation air-disinfection systems were used, according to a new study conducted at the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, Arizona. Airborne transmission of viral and bacterial pathogens has not been adequately addressed in disinfection protocols in animal facilities, the study’s authors note, but respiratory pathogens pose a considerable threat to animal health in these facilities. The impact of aerosolized droplets, or aerosols, is addressed as these microscopic, potentially infectious particles can remain airborne for extended periods of time. The field trial is the first reported study of the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems in an animal shelter. . . . more

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