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Promising new live vaccine for equine influenza
The vaccine was created using reverse genetics, which means it can be updated to protect against emerging strains.
Scientists say progress is important for human and animal health

A new ‘live attenuated’ vaccine against equine influenza is showing promise, an initial trial suggests.

According to a paper published in the journal Virology, a single spray of the vaccine protected mice and horses against the H3N8 equine influenza virus, which is currently circulating.

Vaccinated horses reportedly showed none of the ‘tell-tale’ signs of influenza - which include nasal discharge, coughing and wheezing - after being exposed to a natural virus. In addition, scientists said no negative side effects were seen.

However, the study was small and involved only six horses, so plans are underway to conduct a larger study.

Given as a spray through the nose, the vaccine works by replicating and generating an immune response in the nose, where the virus first enters the body. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center said the idea is to stop the virus taking hold in the horse’s respiratory tract.

The vaccine was created using a genetic engineering technique called reverse genetics, which offers a major advantage as it can be updated quickly and easily to protect against emerging strains. Traditional vaccines, on the other hand, take months to produce and do not allow the same flexibility.

Equine influenza is currently circulating in North America and Europe and is highly contagious, yet there has not been an updated vaccine for 25 years.

Associate professor Luis Martinez-Sobrido, said a new vaccine is not only important for animal health, but for humans too.

Animals such as horses, pigs and dogs can be infected with multiple influenza viruses and have the potential to act as ‘mixing vessels’, creating new strains that could infect people. While this has not yet occurred, it is possible, and these strains would be particularly dangerous as humans would have no pre-existing immunity.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”