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Findings from sheep study could help reduce spread of vCJD in humans
The study of sheep was used to estimate the spread of vCJD in humans.

Improved measures may lessen risk of transmission through blood transfer.

A study led by the Roslin Institute has revealed that the risk of spreading variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) by blood transfer may be higher than previously thought and that further improvements to preventative measures are needed to reduce the risk of disease spread.

The 12-year study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, was funded by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care. The research looked at the behaviour of vCJD in sheep, in order to estimate the spread of the disease in humans.

Scientists used sheep infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) by oral transmission to investigate whether and how these animals would spread disease to others through blood transfer.

The research revealed that removing white blood cells from red cells, plasma and platelets substantially reduced the risk of spread of vCJD, but did not completely prevent it.

A high number of sheep also became infected after receiving blood with detectable levels of contamination, indicating a high risk of disease spread by blood transfusion.

“If our results reflect the situation in human vCJD, then blood transfusions could contribute to spread of disease as much, or more, as eating contaminated meat,” says researcher Dr Fiona Houston.

The study authors argue that this fatal condition could be tackled more effectively by further improving protective measures, as well as further developing tests to diagnose infection in people.

Dr Khalid Salamat, research fellow at Roslin Institute and co-author of the study, said: “Current control measures appear to be effective, but risks could be further reduced by enhanced methods to remove infectious components from blood products. It is also important to develop ultrasensitive tests that can detect disease in asymptomatic blood donors.”

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Vets asked to opt-in to Scottish SPCA fostering programme

News Story 1
 The Scottish SPCA is encouraging veterinary practices to opt into its new fostering programme, by agreeing to register foster animals when approached by one of the foster carers.

The programme goes live in August 2021, and will help to rehabilitate animals under the Scottish SPCA's care until they are able to be properly re-homed. The programme will help the animals to receive care and attention in a stable and happy home environment, as some animals do not cope with a rescue and re-homing centre environment as well as others.

Specific information for veterinary practices on the new programme can be found at www.scottishspca.org/veterinarysurgeons 

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Webinar provides insight into old age pets

A new webinar providing insights into the BSAVA PetSavers Old Age Pets citizen science project is now available free of charge to its members via the BSAVA Library

The webinar presents an exclusive insight into the research process and progression of the study, which aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

It also discusses the study's research methods, the researchers' personal interests in this area of study, and how they envisage the findings being used to create a guidance tool to improve discussions between vets and owners about their ageing dogs.