Here are some interested animal related headlines from the month the past month:

Link between cats and HIV vaccine

A Gainesville scientist has discovered that cats might provide promising clues for an HIV vaccine, reported the news site Gainesville.com.

“Janet Yamamoto, a petite and fiery professor of immunology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine who has spent the past 30 years studying feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), has identified a common region in FIV and HIV: part of a protein on the virus that is critical to its survival and may be key to a vaccine,” the article stated.

“When I discovered FIV in 1986, it was a distant cousin to human HIV,” Yamamoto said, adding that “the protein sequence of the virus was similar between the two species.” Now Yamamoto has found that a protein on the FIV virus triggered an immune response in blood from HIV-infected people. Her findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Virology.

Researches look into dog deaths

The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that “the Ohio Department of Agriculture is trying to determine whether four dead dogs — three in Cincinnati and one in the Akron-Canton area — had the same illness and whether that illness was caused by a newly detected virus.

“On Friday, the department asked Ohio veterinarians to watch for the symptoms of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, and to contact the state if they suspect the illness,” the Dispatch reported. “Owners whose animals have the symptoms should call their vet, said Erica Hawkins, communication director for the department.

“We feel obligated to make sure pet owners are aware this is happening,” Hawkins said. “Supportive therapies can be helpful if started early enough. But we don’t want people to get too worried.”

AVMA looks for clarification from DEA

“Given an ambiguous response from the Drug Enforcement Administration late this spring regarding how veterinarians should transport and dispense controlled substances while away from their clinics, American Veterinary Medical Assn. continues to seek confirmation and clarification from the agency,” reports the website FeedStuff.com. “In a May 2013 letter to Congress, DEA stated that veterinarians are allowed to bring and use controlled substances–which are used to provide pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia–on an as-needed and random basis so long as the locations are within a state where the veterinarian is registered and the location is not a principal place of practice.

“Previously, the agency said that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not permit veterinarians to bring these medications away from their principle places of business, often their clinics or homes.”

AVMA said although the agency has responded to Congress, it still remains unclear as to what constitutes an “as-needed and random basis” and a “principal place of professional practice.” It also does not resolve the issue of a veterinarian who registers in one state where he or she is licensed, but also practices in another state (such as a veterinarian who lives on the border of two states and practices in both states).

Research shows happy life possible after diagnosis

New research shows that a retinal disease found in dogs may not have a cure, but dogs can live a happy life anyways.

“Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome is an acute retinal disorder of dogs characterized by sudden loss of vision that is often associated with various systemic signs and clinicopathologic abnormalities,” reported the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “In a survey of owners of 100 dogs with SARDS initially evaluated between 2005 and 2010, polyphagia was the only systemic sign found to increase in severity over time. Medical treatment was attempted in 22 dogs; visual improvement was not detected in any. Thirty-seven respondents reported an improved relationship with their dog after diagnosis, and 95 indicated they would discourage euthanasia of dogs with SARDS. Most owners believed their pets had a good quality of life.”

The research is being promoted as proof that despite the diagnosis of a retinal disease, dogs can maintain a happy quality of life. Veterinary facilities play an important role in diagnosing animals and treating them, but they also help inform pet owners of conditions and how they can continue to care for their animal in a healthy and loving way.