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New cat virus could reveal insights about hepatitis B
Until now, it was not known that companion animals could contract HBV.

Discovery first step in developing vaccine to prevent infection

Scientists in Australia have discovered hepadnavirus (HBV) in an immunocompromised feline.

Until now, it was not known that companion animals could contract HBV - a virus that is in the same family as hepatitis B. Researchers said that the importance of the finding could not be overstated.

“Finding a new virus responsible for disease is the first step in developing a vaccine to prevent infection,” said Dr Kelly Diehl of the Morris Animal Foundation, which funded the research. “It’s especially exciting if the vaccine could prevent a future cancer from developing in immunocompromised or other vulnerable cats.”

The virus was first discovered by a team at the University of Sydney in an immunodeficient cat that had died of lymphoma. After identifying the virus, the researchers tested stored blood samples from adult cats.

To their surprise, they found evidence of hepadnavirus infection in the samples.

“This is a very exciting discovery,” said corresponding author Julia Beatty, Professor of Feline Medicine at Sydney. “Apart from its relevance for feline health, this discovery helps us understand how hepatitis viruses – which can be deadly – are evolving in all species."

The study, published in the journal Viruses, notes that the discovery presents no risk to humans or other pets.

 

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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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Scotland to fund OV training

The Scottish Government has revealed it will fund training for new Official Veterinarians (OVs), covering the Essential Skills, Statutory Surveillance and TB Testing.

Funding will also be provided for the revalidation of Essential Skills, as well as TB Testing for existing OVs. This is the second round of financial support from the Scottish Government for OVs.

BVA president Simon Doherty said he is “delighted” with the announcement.

“Official Veterinarians’ work in safeguarding animal health and welfare and ensuring food safety is invaluable,” he added. “This announcement has come at a crucial time, with Brexit and an uncertain future ahead, the role of OVs will be more important than ever in enabling the UK’s trade in animal products.