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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 Story 1
 Global pharmaceutical companies were recently called on to pay for a $2bn (1.3bn) innovation fund for researching new antibiotics, in a report by a review team led by economist Jim O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill draws parallels between the banking crisis and the looming catastrophe of a world where antibiotics no longer work. He says that big pharma needs to act with "enlightened self-interest" because "if it gets really bad, somebody is going to come gunning for these guys just how people came gunning for finance".

But who are the real culprits?

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News Shorts
Almost half do no research before buying a pet

Animal charity Wood Green has revealed nearly 50 per cent of the pet owners it surveyed did no research at all before choosing their pet. The charity released the results to coincide with this week's National Unwanted Pet Week.

There are around a quarter of a million unwanted animals in the UK at any one time, according to the Association of Dog and Cat Homes. Wood Green believes this is a deepening problem and has itself seen a 6 per cent rise in stray dogs in the past six months. The charity says lack of research before buying a pet is partially to blame.