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Weekly News Roundup 2/12 to 2/18

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Water is a probable vector for mammalian virus transmission

Water is a necessity for all life but its availability can be limited. In geographical areas experiencing dry seasons, animals congregate near the few freshwater sources, often reaching large densities. Many animals of different species come to the same spots to drink, meaning these spots potentially operate as key locations for pathogen transmission within and between species. An international team of scientists led by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research suggests that viruses can use restricted freshwater sources as a vector to be spread among animals. The key prediction of this idea is that animal viruses remain stable and infectious in water. . . . more

New and improved dog reference genome will aid a new generation of investigation

Researchers at Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have used new methods for DNA sequencing and annotation to build a new, and more complete, dog reference genome. This tool will serve as the foundation for a new era of research, helping scientists to better understand the link between DNA and disease, in dogs and in their human friends. The dog has been aiding our understanding of the human genome since both genomes were released in the early 2000s. At that time, a comparison of both genomes, and two others, revealed that the human genome contained circa 20,000 genes, down from the around 100,000 predicted earlier. In the new study, researchers have greatly improved the dog genome, identifying missing genes and highlighting regions of the genome that regulate when these genes are on or off. . . . more

Button-face kitty: MSPCA-Angell uses rare technique to help cat recover from dog attack

A cat nicknamed Juicebox was rushed to AAHA-accredited Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center (MSPCA-Angell) in Boston, Massachusetts, after being attacked by the family dog on January 20. The staff used a rare technique involving small buttons to help the seven-month-old feline recover. MSPCA-Angell’s emergency veterinarians treated the cat for pain and head trauma, and diagnosed serious facial injuries: multiple jaw fractures, lacerations, and damage to the palate in the roof of his mouth. Juicebox underwent surgery to repair the fractures and, in what veterinarians describe as a novel but highly effective approach, he now has four plastic buttons on his face—two on his cheeks and two below his chin—to hold sutures in place and stabilize his jaw so that healing can take place. The hospital’s dentistry team recommended using the buttons in a technique that has been used at the hospital only once before. . . . more

Animal science and engineering researchers partner to improve veterinary procedure

An interdisciplinary team of University of Arkansas researchers has come together to develop a surgical spoon that is currently in clinical testing to make a common veterinary procedure safer and more effective. Faculty and students from the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food, and Life Sciences are working alongside researchers in the College of Engineering to develop a novel spoon that will allow veterinarians to remove bladder stones more effectively from companion animals. The project combines expertise and experience in veterinary medicine with expertise in medical device design and manufacturing. The team created a series of 3D printed spoons that are currently in clinical testing by local veterinary hospitals. The spoons were optimized with computational simulations and mechanical testing and the team is currently evaluating feedback from the practices. . . . more

Dog show: Pet canines play more when humans are watching

Pet dogs are far more likely to play with one another when their owner is present and being attentive, according to a new study, raising the intriguing possibility that they are putting on a show for our benefit. That our canine companions are keenly attuned to the level of interest humans show them is well established, “but we weren’t aware of any research that has really shown the effect of a human audience impacting species-typical behavior, in this case, dog-dog play,” said Lindsay Mehrkam, PhD, BCBA-D, an animal behaviorist and lead author of the paper. Mehrkam, an assistant professor of psychology at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, oversaw an experiment involving 10 pairs of pet dogs who had lived together for at least six months. The duos ordinarily engaged in play at least once a day, according to their owners. . . . more

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