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September 11, 2020

Weekend reads: Can you catch the coronavirus from your pet? Probably not, experts say.

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    How will the coronavirus pandemic end? The coronavirus pandemic may be the first pandemic to hit the United States in more than century, but it's far from the first pandemic the world has ever faced. Writing for ABC News, Tegan Taylor looks back at past, similar pandemics, including the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, and details how those pandemics came to an end—and what they might mean for the current coronavirus crisis.

    Why do Americans go to the gym? Americans are flocking back to gyms as the facilities begin to reopen, even as the novel coronavirus remains a threat. Writing for The Atlantic, Amanda Mull looks at why Americans prefer going to the gym as opposed to working out at home, what role the gym plays in American culture, and how physical activity has changed over the past 70 years, evolving from a necessity to a leisure activity.

    José Vasquez's reads

    Can you catch the coronavirus from your dog? Since the coronavirus pandemic first began, the World Organization for Animal Health has recorded at least 20 cases of the virus among individual animals, as well as some outbreaks among groups of animals living in close proximity to each other, the Wall Street Journal's Jason Douglas reports. According to Douglas, public health officials in nearly every case confirmed that the animals had contracted the coronavirus from a human who was infected, and there currently are no recorded cases of animals transmitting the coronavirus to people. Jenny Stavisky, an assistant professor in veterinary medicine and science at the University of Nottingham in England, told Douglas that current evidence suggests humans are unlikely to contract the virus from their pets. "The main message here is that even if pets get it they are unlikely to get sick, and there is so far no evidence that an infected pet can go on and infect a human," she said.

    Muscular mice may help scientists unlock the key to preventing muscle and bone loss—in space. When astronauts travel to space, they exercise two hours per day to slow down muscle and bone less, NPR's John Hamilton reports. But a study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests mice may offer clues on how to preserve muscle and bone mass in people, including those who are on interplanetary journeys. For the study, researchers gave mice that spent a month on the International Space Station a drug that neutralized two naturally occurring substances in mice—myostatin and activin A—that typically limit muscle and bone growth. Se-Jin Lee, a professor at The Jackson Laboratory and the University of Connecticut who was involved in the study, said the researchers found "[t]he drug was effective not just in preserving the muscle mass and bone mass, but actually caused the muscles and bones to grow." Based on those findings, the researchers are hopeful that the drug may also help protect astronauts against muscle and bone loss—and perhaps even people with weak muscles or easily fractured bones.

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