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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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Natural England authorises second year of badger culls

Badger culling in west Somerset and Gloucestershire can continue this year after being officially authorised by Natural England, it was confirmed yesterday.

Start dates for the six-week culls have not yet been announced and will be decided by the companies licensed to conduct the culls.

Licensees have been given a target to remove a minimum of 615 badgers from the population in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset. The maximum number of badgers allowed to be culled has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Natural England says the minimum number remains under review as the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) that monitored last year's culls advised there were significant difficulties in gaining an accurate estimate of badger populations.

The IEP report on last year's culls found they failed on effectiveness and humaneness.

This year, Natural England says it will carry out field observations to monitor the accuracy of controlled shooting. AHVLA vets will conduct post-mortem examinations on a minimum of 60 badgers randomly selected from each cull area.