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New cat virus could reveal insights about hepatitis B
Until now, it was not known that companion animals could contract HBV.

Discovery first step in developing vaccine to prevent infection

Scientists in Australia have discovered hepadnavirus (HBV) in an immunocompromised feline.

Until now, it was not known that companion animals could contract HBV - a virus that is in the same family as hepatitis B. Researchers said that the importance of the finding could not be overstated.

“Finding a new virus responsible for disease is the first step in developing a vaccine to prevent infection,” said Dr Kelly Diehl of the Morris Animal Foundation, which funded the research. “It’s especially exciting if the vaccine could prevent a future cancer from developing in immunocompromised or other vulnerable cats.”

The virus was first discovered by a team at the University of Sydney in an immunodeficient cat that had died of lymphoma. After identifying the virus, the researchers tested stored blood samples from adult cats.

To their surprise, they found evidence of hepadnavirus infection in the samples.

“This is a very exciting discovery,” said corresponding author Julia Beatty, Professor of Feline Medicine at Sydney. “Apart from its relevance for feline health, this discovery helps us understand how hepatitis viruses – which can be deadly – are evolving in all species."

The study, published in the journal Viruses, notes that the discovery presents no risk to humans or other pets.

 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”