All known Influenza A viruses originate from aquatic birds that serve as virus reservoirs in nature. Avian viruses can cause severe disease and may lead to devastating pandemics when introduced into the human population. Therefore, a world-wide surveillance program has been set up to monitor influenza virus activity in birds. Surprisingly, bats were recently identified as a potential new source of influenza viruses.
Rabies vaccines stored at warmer temperatures still protect against the disease in dogs, a new research study concludes. The work could lead to improved vaccination coverage in hard to reach, rural areas in Africa and Asia where electricity for cooling is limited.
Dogs are one of the most common household pets in the world, so it's curious that we know relatively little about their cognitive abilities when we know so much about the abilities of other animals, from primates to cetaceans. Over the last couple decades, researchers have been aiming to bridge this gap in scientific knowledge, investigating how our canine companions behave and what they know and why. An entire special issue of a journal is this month dedicated to exploring all that psychological scientists have learned about dog behavior and cognition in recent years.
A genomic analysis of 28 dog breeds has traced the genetic history of the remarkable Fonni's Dog, a herd guardian endemic to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The results reveal that the regional variety has developed into a true breed through unregulated selection for its distinctive behavior, and that its ancestors came from the very same geographic areas as Sardinia's human migrants. Just as Sardinian people have long provided a wealth of genetic insights to scientists, the canine natives are an example of an isolated population that could prove a powerful resource for finding genes that influence health and behavior.
Protocol for keeping dogs from transmitting disease has, until now, lagged decades behind efforts to contain human infectious disease. New guidance for halting the spread of a multitude of dog diseases is now available, thanks to an effort led by veterinary experts.