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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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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.