The University of Guelph

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The University of Guelph Blogs

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Viruses need to attach to cells to infect them, and they do this by binding to specific receptors on the cell. If a virus can’t attach, it can’t infect. Some receptors are very specific to an individual animal species, while some are more general. These differences in receptor binding explain why some viruses only infect one species (or cell type) while others can infect more. Therefore, understanding how a virus attaches to cells can help…
Here’s a question I get a lot that I’ve posted about before: I am immunocompromised, is it safe for me for my pet to get a modified live vaccine? Or A client came in and said their physician told them their pet should only receive killed vaccines. Here is a little background first:  Killed vaccines contain dead (inactived) viruses or bacteria, or bits of them. There’s nothing “alive” in the vaccine that can replicate,…
I’ve gotten behind on writing so I’ll start back with a quick post. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has released an advisory document about the new coronavirus (the cause of the newly named disease COVID-19). On the animal front, it’s still an ongoing battle to balance awareness (considering potential zoonotic sources and what to do with exposed animals) and over-reaction (resulting in paranoia about contact with any animals). We still have no…
I haven’t written much here about the 2019 novel coronavirus from China lately. In part, that’s because I’ve spent a lot of my time writing or reviewing documents for various groups on the topic. A common challenge I face with zoonotic diseases is the message. On one hand (or for some groups), I’m trying to raise awareness, to makes sure animal aspects are properly addressed. On the other, I’m trying to make sure people don’t…
While the whole story hasn’t been sorted out, it seems pretty clear that one or more animal species at the Wuhan Seafood Market (which sold much more than just aquatic animals and their products) was the source of the novel coronavirus.  Just like SARS. Once again, this has raised concerns about markets where diverse live animal species are sold to large crowds. In a few interviews lately I’ve been asked about the role of wildlife…
It was a bit of a slog but we’ve posted the updated 2020 edition Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices for Small Animal Veterinary Clinics. In addition to updated information, the new version has many new and expanded subjects, and provides a comprehensive guide to infection control for veterinary hospitals. Click here to download the guidelines (open access). There’s also a voluntary survey linked to it for any veterinary staff members who want to…
The situation with this novel coronavirus in China is rapidly evolving, with more aggressive control measures locally and lots of planning elsewhere. Recently, snakes were suggested as the origin of this virus, which was surprising and contrary to the assumption that this would be traced back to bats. Information (as well as speculation) now seems to be flowing more rapidly with this outbreak, and the snake hypothesis has been challenged by many since it…
Norovirus infections suck. I know from personal experience. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as the stomach flu (since it has nothing to do with influenza), norovirus infections in most otherwise healthy people tend to be fairly short-lived, but they still make you feel miserable (to say the least). Previous studies have suggested that dogs can sometimes be infected with noroviruses, but data have been limited. So, my general recommendation has been to just try to avoid…
The recent reports of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus that’s been identified in China certainly raise the stakes. While this virus still seems to be less transmissible and less virulent than its relative, the SARS coronavirus, it’s pretty early to have a lot of confidence in that. Lessons seem to have been learned from SARS, but at the start of an outbreak it’s hard to predict too much. What’s the companion animal spin?…
I saw a TV commercial yesterday talking about a skin product and how it “protects your microbiome.” Microbiome is a big buzzword now, but do what do we really know? A lot, and almost nothing. The microbiome is the vast population of microorganisms (mainly bacteria) that live in a site like the intestinal tract, respiratory tract or on the skin. While we often think about bacteria as causes of disease, they’re also critical for our…