First widespread bird flu outbreak in cows
H5N1, a virus that has killed hundreds of millions of wild and domestic
birds, is spreading in US dairy cows for the first time.
Researchers are closely monitoring the situation to see how the virus is
infecting the animals.
The overall threat to people remains low, but the outbreak in cattle could
allow the virus to spread to humans.
“There’s always a worry that viruses will surprise us,” says evolutionary
virologist Daniel Goldhill.
One dairy worker has been infected and is recovering.
The viral strain isolated from the infected person is closely related to
strains targeted by a candidate vaccine.

Taiwan was prepared for a big earthquake.
Taiwan has been hit with the biggest earthquake the island has seen in
25 years.
The magnitude-7.4 quake killed several people, flattened buildings and
triggered landslides. But it could have been much worse: in the past two
decades, Taiwan has ramped up its efforts to prepare for quakes.
It has an early warning system that sends alerts seconds after an
earthquake strikes, and many buildings have been upgraded.
Taiwan is situated in one of the most seismically active regions in the
world and a magnitude-7.6 tremor in 1999 resulted in more than 2,400

Gut bacteria break down cholesterol.
Researchers have identified gut bacteria that can transform artery-
clogging cholesterol into a more harmless form.
In previous work, the authors showed that a bacterial enzyme called
ismA can metabolize cholesterol into coprostanol, a lipid that is
excreted instead of absorbed by the body.
They have now identified gut bacteria, including several Oscillibacter
species, that correlate with lower cholesterol levels in people.
These species could also metabolize cholesterol in lab experiments.
Whether these bacteria can directly influence blood cholesterol in
people needs to be confirmed, but if they could be delivered to the right
place in the gut, it might lead to new treatments.

Why loneliness is bad for your health.
Heart disease, depression, dementia and even early death have all been
linked to loneliness.
According to a 2023 poll, around one-quarter of adults worldwide feel
very or fairly lonely, with twice as many young people reporting
loneliness as the elderly.
Early results from neuroscience suggest that loneliness might alter
aspects of the brain, such as the connections between neurons and the
volume of grey matter.
Links are also emerging between loneliness and how the brain processes
feelings of stress, motivation or reward.

A reason for right- or left-handedness
Left-handed people are almost three times more likely to have rare
variants in the genes for tubulins, proteins that build cells’ internal
Tubulins assemble into long filaments called microtubules, which
control the shapes and movements of cells.
Microtubules could influence handedness because they form hair-like
protrusions in cell membranes that can direct fluid flows in an
asymmetric way during embryonic development.

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