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Weekly News Roundup 1/22 to 1/28

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Study: Catnip leaves kitties feeling groovy, wards off mosquitoes

Catnip is known to hold a special place in the hearts of felines, who often respond by rubbing their face and head in the plant, rolling around on the ground, then zoning out in a state of intoxicated repose. But the biological mechanisms by which it works its magic, and whether it confers any additional benefits to cats, had remained unanswered questions until now. An international team of researchers found that catnip and silver vine, an even more potent herb found in the mountains of Japan and China, ward off mosquitoes. . . . more

Feral honeybee colonies provide clues for enhancing tolerance to pathogens

Understanding the genetic and environmental factors that enable some feral honeybee colonies to tolerate pathogens and survive the winter in the absence of beekeeping management may help lead to breeding stocks that would enhance survival of managed colonies, according to a study led by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The research team set out to answer three questions: Are feral colonies reservoirs of pathogens, with high pathogen levels compared to managed colonies? Do increased pathogen levels lead to higher expression of immune genes in feral colonies than in managed colonies? Is immune gene expression correlated with survival of honeybee colonies? . . . more

Florida International University is training dogs to detect COVID-19

A team of Florida International University (FIU) researchers has trained detector dogs to accurately identify the COVID-19 virus. FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute is using its decades of experience researching and identifying odors to help train and improve the ability of detector dogs to locate COVID-19. The COVID-19-detector dogs will be working on campus at FIU this spring as part of the effort to control the spread of the virus. Much like bomb-detecting dogs, COVID-19-detecting dogs can sweep an area and alert handlers to the presence of the odor that is left on surfaces by a person infected with COVID-19. FIU’s COVID-detector dogs were also invited to sweep the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. . . . more

Two scholarships available for 2021

Winn Feline Foundation and the American Association of Feline Practitioners announced Monday that they’re offering two scholarships for third- or fourth-year veterinary students enrolled in accredited veterinary colleges or schools in the United States or Canada. The $2,500 awards are based upon academic achievement, financial need, leadership, and dedication to and excellence in the study of feline medicine, health, and welfare. This marks the fifth year the two feline-dedicated organizations have teamed up to offer both a $2,500 scholarship for a veterinary student with an interest in feline practice and a $2,500 scholarship for a veterinary student with an interest in clinical scientific research. . . . more

Southwest Airlines bans emotional-support animals on flights, only trained service dogs allowed

Southwest Airlines has made the decision to no longer allow emotional-support animals on their flights, following a decision by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) last month to revise the Air Carrier Access Act regulation on the transportation of service animals. According to Southwest Airlines, emotional-support animals will be banned from their flights starting March 1, 2021. The airline said that customers who do travel with trained service dogs must now present a completed Service Animal Air Transportation Form issued by the DOT at the gate or ticket counter at the airport and must include details on the animal’s health, behavior, and training. . . . more

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