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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Agriculture Department said Tuesday that the agency will cease its controversial practice of infecting kittens with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite for laboratory research to combat foodborne illness.

The backdrop: Bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress last month to end the agency's practice. The department’s Agricultural Research Service has been using this practice to study the parasite it says is the leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the U.S. NBC News reported that since 1982, the agency had also been feeding cats with dog and cat remains obtained from "Asian meat markets." The USDA said it hasn’t infected any kittens in its facilities since last September, and the cats that were never infected will be available for adoption.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.