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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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New DNA testing scheme for Labradors

News Story 1
 The Kennel Club has approved a new DNA testing scheme for hereditary nasal parakeratosis (HNPK) in Labrador retrievers. Announcing the news, Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko, said: "The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog in the UK, so ensuring that the resources are available for breeders to make informed breeding decisions is paramount.

"We are pleased to be announcing this new DNA test for the breed, which will assist in responsible breeding and enable potential puppy buyers to be aware of an issue which could affect their chosen breed, and ultimately protect and maintain the health of the breed."

A list of the laboratories the Kennel Club accepts results from can be found here: thekennelclub.org.uk  

News Shorts
Prion diseases 'should remain national research priority'

Professor Neil Mabbott, a group leader at the Roslin Institute, has written about the importance of further research into prion diseases in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Prion diseases remain untreatable but research over the past 10 years has shed light on how prion proteins are transmitted and has allowed preventative measures to be adopted.

Prof Mabbott said there is a clear need for further research into how prions spread from the gut to the brain, causing irreversible damage, and for this knowledge to be translated into therapies.