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April 23, 2021 – For more than 70 years, Morris Animal Foundation has been a global leader in funding studies to advance animal health. With the help of generous donors like you, we are improving the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses and wildlife around the world.

When Cancer Isn't Cancer

Some English bulldogs with high white blood cell counts thought to be cancerous may instead have a newly described, non-cancerous syndrome called polyclonal B-cell lymphocytosis. Colorado State University researchers made the discovery during a study to better understand B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (BCLL). Rather than being at high risk for BCLL as originally thought, some English bulldogs develop a benign syndrome that has many similarities to leukemia. (Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, October 2020)

Virus Discovery

Australian researchers at the University of Sydney and Hong Kong researchers at City University developed genomic methods to study viruses in cats. Their noninvasive approach uses fecal samples and is leading to the discovery of new cat viruses, including two astroviruses in kittens. The significance of this finding as it relates to disease in cats still is unclear. However, studies show astroviruses in humans can cause gastroenteritis and are responsible for up to 10% of nonbacterial gastroenteritis cases. (Viruses, November 2020)

Drug-Resistant Pneumonia

The bacterium Rhodococcus equi is the most common cause of severe pneumonia in foals. Currently, control of R. equi infections relies heavily on antibiotic therapy and some farms administer antibiotics to healthy foals as a preventive measure. Researchers at University of Georgia and Texas A&M University found the commonly used macrolide antimicrobials with rifampin combination (MaR) promotes multidrug resistance for R. equi. These bacteria are then shed into the environment where they persist and potentially infect other animals. Given these findings, MaR for treating all foals with subclinical pneumonia should be reconsidered. (Scientific Reports, January 2020)

Spillover Disease in Gorillas

University of California, Davis researchers are studying better ways to detect the transmission and monitor impact of respiratory diseases in mountain gorillas. Outbreaks can cause significant illness and death in great apes. The team recently documented human respiratory syncytial virus, a common human virus, in wild mountain gorillas, confirming regular spillover of human respiratory viruses into gorilla populations. This is a timely finding given the recent discovery of the virus that causes COVID-19 in captive gorillas. Methods developed by this team will help improve health monitoring of gorillas from introduced human respiratory viruses. (EcoHealth, December 2020)