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Reverse zoonosis causes concern
reverse zoonosis concern influenza flu season transmission illness
Humans must beware of passing flu on to their pets

The concept of reverse zoonosis, in which humans can pass illness on to their pets, is causing concern with the approach of the influenza (flu) season.

Many people do not realise they can not only pass flu on to other humans when they get sick, but also animals, including dogs, cats and ferrets.

Scientists and vets hope to help prevent reverse zoonosis by raising awareness of the issue.

It is well known that animals such as pigs and birds introduce new strains of flu to humans, such as the most recent H1N1 flu strain, however, it is less known that humans have further passed these on to other animals.

There is currently little known about reverse zoonosis by scientists and vets, however researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Iowa State University are looking at this type of disease transmission.

"We worry a lot about zoonosis, the transmission of diseases from animals to people," said Christine Loehr, an associate professor at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. "Any time you have infection of a virus into a new species, it's a concern, a black box of uncertainty.

"We don't know for sure what the implications might be, but we do think this deserves more attention."

Professor Loehr advises that people with flu-like symptoms distance themselves from their pets in future.

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News Shorts
Beef production is more damaging to the environment than other protein sources, study suggests

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that beef production is approximately 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.

It has long been known that beef has a greater impact than other meats, but this paper is the first to quantify the scale in a comparative way, the BBC reports.

The scientists measured the environment inputs required to produce the main sources of protein. It was found that beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.

Although the study was based on US data, researchers say that the conclusions are applicable in Europe.

Speaking to the BBC, professor Mark Sutton, from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: "The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume,"

"The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60 per cent of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef. Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe, the overall message will be similar: cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US."