Thursday, November 06, 2008
The globe and mail reports on the TOTALLY GROUNDBREAKING discovery that wild raccoons get infected with influenza. Thanks guys. Now I know not to eat my garbage after the coons have been into it. As if the fear of rabies wasn't already enough.
It's always interesting to see which science stories newspapers choose to report on. There's a lots of fascinating questions in virology. This is not one of them. Is it really surprising to learn that raccoons, who will pretty much stick their noses into anything, get infected by a virus that will stick its genome into pretty much any available cell? As the author of the study says, "More diseases have been found in raccoons than pretty much any other wild animals,...You name it, raccoons get it. But they're tough as nails." Ok, this is getting a bit more interesting. Apparently infected coons can shed and transmit the flu, but they don't get sick.
Maybe someone needs to establish a coon model for immunology. What's so gosh-darn special about the raccoon immune system? That would be interesting. Warm fuzzy mammals for press releases AND some novelty...