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Reverse zoonosis causes concern
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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Pirbright student wins top award

News Story 1
 A student studying for his PhD at the Pirbright Institute has been honoured for his research on egg anti-viral proteins which could lead to a major step forward in vaccine production rates.

Tom Whitehead was named Young Innovator of the Year at the Guildford Innovation Awards on Wednesday (22nd February).

Working with scientists at The Pirbright Institute, Tom identified the family of antiviral proteins which generate the embryo's anti-viral immune response. His research demonstrated that restricting the activity of these proteins enables the levels of virus to increase.  

News Shorts
Collaboration to improve animal disaster preparedness in California

Animal rescue specialist Jim Green has joined the University of California Davis's Centre for Equine Health, for a one-year collaboration to support major advances in disaster preparedness. Recent weather conditions in California have led to declarations of emergencies in 50 out of 58 counties and there is growing concern about pets and livestock safety in light of increased wildfires and floods.

Disaster plans are in place for human and property safety but UC Davis says there is a critical lack of funding and standardisation for animal disaster planning. Mr Green has created and implemented programmes for the UK Fire and Rescue Service, to educate and integrate first responders and vets. He will coordinate with the university and local and state emergency response stakeholders in California.