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December 01, 2020

In Short

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Studies in Australia focus on aiding wildlife impacted by wildfires

Koala in a burning landscapeMorris Animal Foundation has awarded $553,000 to fund five studies in Australia designed to improve the care, rehabilitation, and release of wildlife impacted by wildfires, the organization announced in October.

The studies, supported by the foundation’s Australian Wildlife Fund, will help veterinary and animal health scientists prepare for future wildfires  in Australia and may also inform responses to other wildfire crises around the globe.

The five studies address the following research topics: recovering missing marsupials, clinical assessment of koalas during and following bushfires, treatment and rehabilitation of fire-affected wildlife, improving decision-making to optimize outcomes for bushfire-impacted Australian wildlife, and identification of prognostic indicators for survival in koalas, macropods such as kangaroos and wallabies, and wombats affected by wildfires.

“There is a significant lack of evidence-based research on best practices to assist animals injured in wildfire events,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, the foundation’s chief scientific officer, in an announcement about the studies. “As global climate change, drought and habitat destruction continue to fuel ever-more destructive fires around the world, we need to know how to save and rehabilitate our wildlife.”

Organization awards full-tuition scholarships

Ashley Newman
Ashley Newman
Yvette Huizar
Yvette Huizar

The Veterinary Emergency Group has chosen Ashley Newman and Yvette Huizar, both fourth-year students at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, as this year’s recipients of its annual VEG Scholarship. The scholarship, first established in 2019, covers full tuition for the fourth year of study for a veterinary student in the United States attending a veterinary college in state or out of state. It also offers the recipient a full-time role as an emergency veterinarian following graduation. This year, in light of the financial burden placed on many students because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organization decided to award an additional scholarship.

According to the VEG, Newman and Huizar represent the group’s values of love and support for pets and their families and of openness and inclusivity. Huizar is the co-founder of the Latinx VMA, which aims to empower Latino professionals in the veterinary field and to support the next generation of Latino veterinarians.

APHIS expands brucellosis research

A new draft policy issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will allow researchers to better study transmission of brucellosis in swine, elk, bison, and cattle that cannot be easily housed or studied indoors.

The draft statement, “Biosafety for Large Animal Study-Related Activities with Brucella abortus and B. suis Using Outdoor Containment Spaces,” outlines the information investigators must provide to the Federal Select Agent Program for their study to be approved.

“Endemic Brucella abortus is expanding its range in the Greater Yellowstone Area and Brucella suis is being found in more feral swine populations throughout various areas of the United States,” according to APHIS. “This expansion emphasizes a critical need for both improved diagnostics and vaccine development related to wildlife. Traditional studies will not work for wildlife species, but this draft policy statement provides an outline for how to safely conduct outdoor studies. The information gathered from these types of studies will help both wildlife managers and livestock producers across the country, while still addressing the need to handle Brucella according to select agent requirements.”

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