Harvard Medical Students learn to treat species like the red panda above through a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Zoo New England. (Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Mathias Appel)

By Jacob Williamson-Rea

Our weekly round-up compiles stories and news, both from here at Penn and around the world, that highlight the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health.

Doctor, your patient is waiting. It’s a red panda.
The New York Times, June 29, 2018
During a clinical elective at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Harvard Medical School students treat animal patients instead of humans. The rotation reinforces the future doctors’ understanding of our ecosystems’ interconnectedness through translational and veterinary medicine.

Biodiversity is the ‘infrastructure that supports all life’
The Guardian, June 28, 2018
E. O. Wilson developed the concept of “Half Earth,” which suggests we must set aside 50 percent of this planet as nature preserves to sustain life as we know it. Scientists are considering this idea’s potential ahead of the 2020 UN Biodiversity Convention in Beijing.

These animals depend on darkness. But humans have ruined their nights.
The Washington Post, June 29, 2018
City development, noise pollution, and light pollution have influenced nocturnal wildlife for years. But the widespread switch from sodium lamps—which give off orange light—to the white and blue LEDs in 2009 might have negative consequences, according to a recent study.

Saving koalas: Gene study promises solution to deadly sex disease
BBC, July 2, 2018
Though koalas can stomach the often-poisonous eucalyptus plant, numerous STDs, including a recent bout of chlamydia, have plagued the marsupial population. Scientists say they can develop an effective vaccine against this disease by decoding the koala genome.

Alarming polio outbreak spreads in Congo, threatening global eradication efforts
Science, July 2, 2018
The recent Ebola outbreak in Congo dominated news headlines. But another ailment has been quietly, rapidly spreading there, too. Polio has already paralyzed 29 children and made its way to the border of Uganda, far beyond the original “outbreak zone.”

Horses had dentists 3,000 years ago
National Geographic, July 2, 2018
It appears that horse riding and horse dentistry emerged simultaneously more than 3,000 years ago. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered archaeological evidence that humans sawed and pulled infected horse teeth, which likely allowed the animals to remain healthy, enabling longer travel.