Friday, 22 May 2020 22:19

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Some pet groomers in Pennsylvania are growing frustrated with the coronavirus lockdown and say they should be allowed the right to reopen because their services are essential to pet health.

Groomers in the state can get back to business only when their county enters the “yellow” stage of reopening, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. That can happen when cases have declined for two weeks, with the area’s hospital capacity also factored in. And while the yellow phase allows certain businesses to open if they follow health and social distancing guidelines, it still doesn’t permit theaters, gyms or restaurant dining rooms to open, according to the Inquirer.

But a petition signed by more than 22,500 people calls on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to treat pet groomers as “essential businesses” and allow them to open right away, provided they implement social distancing procedures. Such a move would be in line with the path that Phil Murphy, governor of neighboring New Jersey, took last month.

Citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet groomers say animals do not play a role in the spread of COVID-19. And they note that lack of grooming can lead to health problems for pets.

“If we stay closed longer than June, you’re going to see more skin issues, major matting,” said Gwendolyn Carry, owner of Chez Bow Wow Pet Grooming in Northern Liberties, according to the Inquirer. “Vets are going to be overwhelmed with medically necessary groomings.”


A dog who has spent a career serving the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University community has been recognized in a special commencement ceremony.

Moose, an 8-year-old therapy dog at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center, received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine evening as part of virtual commencement exercises. It was the latest recognition for the “pawsome” member of Hokie Nation, according to a press release from the university.

Like the Hokies he helps, Moose has had a challenging few months. Just a week after his birthday in February (his 64th, in human years), the Labrador Retriever was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy and other therapies.

His treatment has been managed by providers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. Moose was cared for and housed by a Virginia Tech veterinary student earlier this year while receiving radiation treatments at a private veterinary specialist in Richmond.

Moose, who came to Virginia Tech in 2014, is now one of four dogs at the counseling center who serve as working therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness.

Trent Davis, the coordinator of animal-assisted therapy and a counselor at the center, credited Veterinary Teaching Hospital staff for providing Moose with excellent care. Moose continues to receive chemotherapy and has been given a good prognosis.

“They’re wonderful, amazing people,” Davis said of the veterinary staff.

Moose has returned to work with canine colleague Derek, who is also owned and cared for by Davis. Virginia Tech’s team of therapy dogs is rounded out by Carson and Wagner, whose humans are also staff members at the counseling center.

Moose has aided in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and over 500 outreach events in his six years at Virginia Tech. He was honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award. When not working, he enjoys swimming, playing tug of war, and perhaps most of all, eating.


Housecats take an enormous toll on local wildlife when they’re allowed to roam outdoors, a new report suggests.

Researchers reviewed 66 studies to determine how domestic cats affect Australia’s fauna, according to an article published by Science Alert.

“On average, each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, most of them native to Australia,” the article explains.

In Australia that amounts to 390 million animals killed by pet cats each year.

The report authors advise keeping your cat indoors. Your cat may be hunting even if you never see any prey. Research suggests that pet cats bring home only about 15 percent of the animals they catch.

“If we want native wildlife in our towns and cities – rather than introduced rodents and birds – then there are choices to be made,” Sarah Legge, professor at the University of Queensland, told The Guardian.


Nearly 90,000 people in Massachusetts have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. But it's still unclear if having had the virus makes a person immune to further infection, and if so, for how long. As the state expands its re-opening and looks toward the possibility of schools opening in the fall, these questions become more pressing.

Two studies on monkeys published Wednesday in the journal Science suggest that having antibodies to the novel coronavirus — either from previous infection or from certain prototype vaccines — offer protection from getting re-infected. The work was led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

“Overall, this is very good news," said senior author Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. "This shows, at least in a proof-of-concept setting, that natural immunity as well as vaccine-induced immunity can exist."

In one study, researchers showed that all nine rhesus macaques exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus developed antibodies against it. The researchers re-exposed the monkeys to the virus more than a month later, and while some virus did show up in the animals' noses and lungs, each had a strong immune response and few symptoms.

"If these animal data are indeed translatable to humans, then we would also predict that humans — or at least a large fraction of humans — who are infected and then recover likely will resist a challenge," said Barouch.

In the second study, the researchers tested six prototype vaccines in 25 adult rhesus macaques, while 10 monkeys received a placebo. (The vaccines they used are prototypes for research purposes only, and not being developed into human vaccines. Barouch said that other vaccines under development will likely perform better.) The vaccinated monkeys developed "neutralizing" antibodies in their bloodstream. Researchers then exposed all 35 animals to the virus and measured their response. Eight of the 25 vaccinated monkeys had no detectable virus at any point following exposure, while the other monkeys showed levels of virus lower than the control group.

In addition, monkeys with higher levels of antibodies in their blood had lower levels of the virus in their bodies, which suggests that antibody levels may be a useful marker of protection against the novel coronavirus.

Barouch emphasized that animal studies do not always apply to humans, and said that because the studies were relatively short, researchers couldn't determine whether any antibody protection was short- or long-lived.

"These studies are a first step," he said, "but not the last step."


A California animal sanctuary said it rescued 1,000 hens that were going to be euthanized from a struggling Iowa egg farm.

The farm, which the rescue did not name, had to scale down due to the pandemic disrupting supply chains, according to a press release from Animal Place, an animal advocacy group.

The egg farm decided to scale down operations and planned to euthanize more than 100,000 hens with carbon dioxide gas. The Iowa farm agreed to allow Animal Place, a large animal sanctuary in northern California, to rescue 1,000 of those hens.

The pandemic has severely impacted the food supply chain -- meatpacking plants have closed and farmers have been unable to sell their products. Last month, two million chickens on several farms in Delaware and Maryland were euthanized due to a lack of employees at chicken processing plants, according to a statement from Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

Animal Place chartered two private planes -- that was paid for by a donor -- to Iowa to transport the animals to their new home in California. Two of the animal sanctuary's staff members also made the nearly 30-hour drive to the farm to oversee the rescue.

"With funds running low, the farm had not been feeding the hens well for a week prior to rescue," according to the sanctuary's press release. "The farm employs a battery cage system with cages stacked four to five high, and 10 hens per cage."

During the rescue, other local animal advocates assisted Animal Place to remove the birds from the wire cages and placing them into plastic crates for transportation. The group noted that they found dead hens inside the barn and in cages with surviving hens.

The hens were then loaded up on the planes in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and flown to Truckee, California. The flight was eight hours long, including a stop to refuel.

"The entire process, from the 27-hour drive, arriving at the farm at 3 a.m., loading and unloading full crates from the planes and vehicles, and going straight to caring for them once we arrived at the sanctuary was the most exhausting experience I've ever had," Hannah Beins, Animal Place animal care director, said in a statement.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat, because until their rescue these hens never got to touch grass or feel the sunshine, and now they can live out the rest of their lives as chickens should."

The animals now live in Grass Valley, California, at Animal Place, one of the oldest and largest sanctuaries in the state, according to the group. The hens will be nursed back to health and available for adoption for backyard flocks throughout the state.


Scientists have created a mouse embryo that's part human -- 4% to be exact.

The hybrid is what scientists call a human-animal chimera, a single organism that's made up of two different sets of cells -- in this case, a mouse embryo that has both mouse cells and human cells.

This human-mouse chimera has by far the highest number of human cells ever recorded in an animal, according to researchers. Their experiment suggests that many types of human cells can be generated in mouse embryos, and at a much faster rate than in human embryos.

And that, the scientists say, carries enormous potential for the treatment of human diseases, possibly even Covid-19.

Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center published the findings last week in the journal Science Advances.

 These findings are important for a number of reasons, said Jian Feng, one of the study's authors and a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University at Buffalo.

For one, it shows that it's possible to generate many types of mature human cells in mouse embryos, which could potentially be used to make cells, tissues or organs to treat diseases.

In this study, the team of researchers injected 10 to 12 human stem cells into developing mouse embryos. Within 17 days, those stem cells developed into millions of mature cells, including human red blood cells and eye cells.

Most of the human cells are red blood cells, which are accumulated in the mouse fetal liver.

In a human embryo, it would take about eight weeks to generate human red blood cells and even longer to generate human eye cells, Feng said.

"These observations suggest that the mechanism that specify time in development can be changed," he wrote in an email to CNN. "With this implication, there will be more dramatic discoveries down the road."


Outbreaks of E. coli illness that sickened 188 people who ate romaine lettuce grown in California probably came from cattle grazing near the farms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a report released Thursday.

Feces from the cows, which contain the bacteria, is considered "the most likely contributing factor" to three outbreaks of food-borne illness traced to fields in the Salinas Valley, the report said.

The outbreaks occurred last November and December and affected people in at least 16 states and Canada. No deaths were reported.

Investigators concluded that the illness was centered on ranches and fields owned by the same grower and that were located downslope from public land where cattle grazed.

E. coli infection usually causes sickness two to eight days later, according to health authorities. Most people get diarrhea and abdominal cramps. However, some cases can be life-threatening, causing kidney failure and seizures.

E. coli bacteria can get into water and soil through multiple routes, including waste from domesticated animals or wild animals, fertilizer and other agricultural products.

The FDA couldn't definitely identify a route of contamination for the three 2019 outbreaks. But the agency said the possibilities included water runoff from the grazing area, wind-blown material, or animals or vehicles tracking it to the fields.

"Agricultural water sources used to grow the romaine" also were possible routes, the report's executive summary said.

Another E. coli outbreak in spring 2018 that sickened more than 200 people and killed five was traced to tainted irrigation water near a cattle lot.

Between 2009 and 2018, federal authorities identified 40 food-borne outbreaks of E. coli in the U.S. "with a confirmed or suspected link to leafy greens," the FDA said.

Industry groups tightened safety measures following the 2018 outbreak, including expanding buffer zones between growing fields and livestock. The FDA this March issued a plan with a number of voluntary recommendations for reducing the risk of contaminating fields. They include increasing buffer zones between grazing lands and growing fields and adding barriers such as ditches and berms.

The investigation was performed by FDA with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agencies in several states and Canadian health and food inspection agencies.


A bald eagle died last year in Maine after being stabbed through the heart by a loon, wildlife officials said.

A biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recently got word about the July 2019 attack, the Bangor Daily News reported Wednesday.

Danielle D’Auria believes it to be one of the strangest cases of eagle death she has ever seen.

The bird had been found with a puncture would in its chest by a loon biologist in New Hampshire. A dead loon chick was also discovered near the eagle.

When D’Auria heard about the case she had the bird radiographed fro a possible bullet wound as it is illegal in the U.S. to kill bald eagles.

The evidence showed no gun residue but indicated that the big bird had been stabbed through the heart by the beak of a loon.

“We know conflicts between bald eagles and loons have soared in recent years as a result of the recovery of our eagle population,” D’Auria wrote in a blog entry for the state agency. “We are seeing more and more eagle predation on loon chicks and even adult loons.”

The biologist believes the loon’s attack was a result of its attempt to protect its chick from the bird.

D’Auria wrote the evidence is important because it shows an attack that appears to be the first recorded wherein a loon has killed an eagle.

She added, “Who would think a loon would stand a chance against such a powerful predator?”


Animal control officers recovered a stolen, four-week old German shepherd following a crash in Eaton County, Michigan.

Animal Control staff members Becky and Kim assisted an Eaton County deputy at the scene of the crash in Delta Township. The occupant of the vehicle was allegedly trying to hide the small puppy in his pants. The animal control women quickly recognized it as a stolen puppy reported in nearby Ingham County.

The puppy was returned to its owner and mother. All three stolen puppies have now been returned, according to Eaton County officials who are working with Ingham County in assisting with their criminal case, according to a Facebook post.

Read 700 times Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2020 22:41
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