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Untreated water 'could be source of EHV'
horse drinkng
Horses and other susceptible mammals could be infected by herpesviruses from water bodies, long after the animals that shed the virus have left the area.
Equine herpesvirus remains infectious for three weeks - study

Berlin researchers have discovered that equine herpesvirus (EHV) can remain stable and infectious over a three-week period, challenging the idea that herpesviruses are relatively unstable outside their host.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that untreated water could be a source of infection for some herpesviruses.

Enveloped viruses, such as herpesviruses, cause disease when they spread from host to host via aerosol transmission. However, they are generally thought to be unstable in the environment, requiring rapid, direct transfer in order to survive and remain infectious.

Testing this idea, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research spiked water with equine herpesviruses under different conditions over a period of three weeks, to examine whether the virus remained infectious.

The team say the virus did remain stable and infectious for up to three weeks, with pH and temperature being the two key factors in determining how long the viruses survived.

Adding soil to the water appeared to 'pull' the virus out of the water, stabilising it in the soil. This suggests viruses may persist for an extended period of time in natural water bodies. In the case of EHV, horses and other susceptible mammals could be infected by herpesviruses from water bodies, long after the animals that shed the virus have left the area.

Viruses such as EHV may therefore become part of the environmental 'virome' and remain infectious, researchers say. Equine herpesviruses have spread among mammals including polar bears and rhinos, without coming into direct contact with horses or their relatives. This has occurred in captivity and in the wild, according to the Leibniz Institute, often resulting in fatalities. Shared water sources could be a source of, and potential vector for, infection.

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.