Major studies into rotovirus in cats and intestinal disease in horses have been backed with £20,000 grants by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Charitable Trust.
Allison German and Kenton Morgan achieved the Richard Daubney Research Fellowship to investigate zoonotic potential of feline rotovirus in UK cats, using samples from Cat Protection Adoption Centres.
Allison said, ''Feline rotaviruses have been identified in diarrhoeic children in Japan, Italy, Israel and America, but because of limited funding options, there has been no systematic study of rotaviruses in cats, so the prevalence, risk factors and zoonotic potential are unknown.
''I am pleased the Trust has recognised the importance of emerging infectious diseases in companion animals, and their potential role in animal and human health.''
Faecal samples will be assessed to establish whether they share any identity to human strains of rotovirus.
A second award of £20,000 was made to Chris Proudman and Alistair Darby, both of whom are based at the University's Leahurst campus.
The grant will allow the Metagenomic Analytical Utilities for Equines (MANURE), to sequence DNA from microbes taken from horse intestines before analysing the diversity, composition and abundance of the microbial populations, to go ahead.
The project is expected to improve veterinary understanding of the role of equine gut bacteria, and benefit horses and their owners.
RCVS Trust director, Cherry Bushell said, ''The feline rotavirus research could have important findings in the longer term if it is found that there is genuine risk to human health, and also shows clear potential for further study.
''Similarly, the equine gut bacteria study is likely to increase considerably knowledge over the longer term and to attract funding from elsewhere for further research.''