The microbiome is the sum of all the bacteria that live in and on an organism. These bacteria can play an important role in keeping unwanted pathogens, such as viruses, from getting a foothold and causing disease.

Dr. Brianna Beechler is a researcher at the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. She has joined forces with Dr. Rhea Hanselmann, of the Western University of Health Sciences, to study how the microbiome in the respiratory tract differs between cats with and without upper respiratory infections.

Both researchers have a veterinary clinical background and know how devastating upper respiratory infections can be in cats. They have wondered why some cats are resistant to infection, even if they are sharing a home with an infected cat. “We don’t know why some animals can have a pathogen and exhibit clinical signs and others have the same pathogen and don’t,” said Dr. Beechler. “We say it’s related to stress, but what does that really mean? We know there’s a link in African buffalo between their upper respiratory microbiome and whether they get other diseases or not. We thought the same thing might be happening in cats.”

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