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Weekly News Roundup 11/13 to 11/19

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Scientists identify protein that protects against Lyme disease

Yale researchers have discovered a protein that helps protect hosts from infection with the tick-borne spirochete that causes Lyme disease, a finding that may help diagnose and treat this infection. For the study, the Yale team expressed more than 1,000 human genes in yeast and analyzed their interactions with 36 samples of B. burgdorferi. They found that one protein, peptidoglycan recognition protein 1 (PGLYRP1), which has an ortholog in dogs, acts as an early warning signal to the immune system when exposed to the bacteria. When exposed to the Lyme spirochete, mice lacking PGLYRP1 had much higher levels of B. burgdorferi than mice with the protein and showed signs of immune system dysfunction, the researchers report. . . . more

A gene defect associated with a severe canine lung disease identified

In 2007, Airedale terrier breeders in Finland sent puppies who had died only a few days after being born to the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) for pathological examinations. Some litters had lost several puppies. A research project initiated at Evira under the direction of Marjukka Anttila, DVM, PhD, DACVP, uncovered a problem in the puppies’ lungs. “There are vacuoles, or specialized membrane-bound organelles, in the epithelial, or superficial, cells of the pulmonary alveoli, which are responsible for gas exchange. They are tasked with producing a substance [essential to breathing] that reduces surface tension on the surface of these cells. The vacuoles in the lungs of the dead puppies hadn’t matured normally, nor were they able to produce this surfactant,” explains doctoral candidate Kati Dillard, LVM, from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, and the Finnish Food Authority. . . . more

Two new studies focus on SARS-CoV-2 transmission in domestic cats, pigs

Two recently published studies from Kansas State University researchers and collaborators have led to two important findings related to the COVID-19 pandemic: Domestic cats can be asymptomatic carriers of SARS-CoV-2, but pigs are unlikely to be significant carriers of the virus. “Other research has shown that COVID-19-infected human patients are transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to cats; this includes domestic cats and even large cats, such as lions and tigers,” said Jürgen A. Richt, DVM, PhD, the Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our findings are important because of the close association between humans and companion animals.” . . . more

Major puppy shortage in UK leads to animal theft, illegal breeders, increased illnesses

The United Kingdom is facing a major puppy shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, fueling a rise in the illegal puppy trade, animal charities have warned. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which operates in England and Wales, has documented a 650% rise in searches on its website for “puppies near me.” Not only has that sent puppy prices soaring, with some breeders demanding up to £10,000 ($13,000) for a single puppy, it has also meant a sharp rise in the number of animals being imported into the country from abroad, including dogs with illnesses. Additionally, five policing areas in England saw a double-digit increase in the number of dog thefts reported between January and July 2020, compared to last year. . . . more

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