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Pigs ‘could be a better model for human influenza’
The results suggest that targeting the lower respiratory tract with aerosol vaccination could be more effective in preventing severe disease.

’Striking difference’ to the same vaccine in pigs and ferrets 

A new study has raised questions about whether ferrets are a good model for studying human influenza.

Ferrets are considered to be a gold standard animal model for influenza research, but scientists now say that S-FLU - a universal flu vaccine candidate - evokes different immune responses in pigs and ferrets.

Findings published in the Journal of Immunology suggest that pigs may offer a more faithful representation of influenza disease in humans.

S-FLU is a weakened strain of flu virus, designed to trigger a response from T cells that are able to react to multiple strains of flu.

Researchers found a ‘striking difference’ in the way that pigs and ferrets responded to the same vaccine. When administered to pigs, the vaccine activated a newly-identified type of T cell, against a flu virus of a different strain. Disease severity was reduced, but the amount of virus stayed the same.

When it was administered to ferrets, however, the viral replication was reduced, as was the amount of virus transmitted to other animals. Scientists said pigs provide a model that is closer in size and has a very similar respiratory system to humans. Pigs are also naturally infected with influenza viruses.

The team’s discovery of a new type of T cell - tissue-resident memory T-cells - also sheds light on how influenza is fought in the lung.

The results also suggest that targeting the lower respiratory tract with aerosol vaccination could be more effective in preventing severe disease in pigs. This finding offers promising evidence that the same could be true in humans.

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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.