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Study finds TB bacteria can survive in amoebae found in soil
England currently has the highest incidence of bovine TB infection in Europe.

Bacterium’s survivability could explain high transmission rates

In a recent study at the University of Surrey and the University of Geneva, scientists discovered that the bacteria that causes bovine TB can survive and grow in single-celled organisms found in soil and dung.

In order to find out how the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M.bovis) – which causes bovine TB – can survive in different environments, scientists infected an amoebae known as Dictyostelium discoideum with the bacterium.

Unique from other bacterium, which were digested by the amoebae, M.bovis continued to survive unharmed for two days, using the same genes to escape the amoebae that it used to avoid being killed by immune cells in cattle and humans.

It was also discovered that M.bovis continued to grow at lower temperatures than previously thought, although at a slower pace.

Until now, it was thought that M.bovis could only replicate at 37°C, however, in this new study replication of the bacterium was identified at 25°C.

Researchers speculate that the bacterium’s ability to survive in amoebae, as well as it’s adaptability in different temperatures, explain the high transmission rates of M.bovis between animals.

Professor Graham Stewart, lead author and head of the department of microbial sciences and the University of Surrey, said: “Despite implementation of control measures, bovine TB continues to be a major threat to cattle and has an enormous impact on the rural economy. Understanding the biology behind the TB disease and how it spreads is crucial for a balanced discussion on this devastating problem and to developing preventative measures to stop its spread.”

Prof Stewart also addressed the potential this new study has created for “carrying out at least some future TB research in amoebae rather than large animals.”

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.