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Study to explore threat of fatal disease in deer
"We hope to shed light on how this disease could affect deer farms and wild deer populations" - Dr Fiona Houston.
Findings will inform control strategies for chronic wasting disease.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have launched a new project to understand the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease on European deer.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive brain condition, similar to BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in cattle, that affects deer and related species such as reindeer, moose and elk. Found primarily in North America, there have also been a small number of cases in Europe in recent years. 

Through this study, researchers hope to inform efficient strategies to control infections and to understand the risks posed by CWD to farmed livestock and humans. 

“We hope to shed light on how this disease could affect deer farms and wild deer populations – how infection occurs, how it spreads among deer and how it could potentially cross into other species,” explained Dr Fiona Houston of the Roslin Institute. “With better insight, we can identify useful approaches to monitor and limit the likelihood of costly outbreaks.”

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that causes emaciation, loss of bodily functions and abnormal behaviour. It belongs to the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) group of diseases, that also includes BSE in cattle and transmissible mink encephalopathy in farmed mink. 

In the study, researchers will analyse cases in Norway and Sweden to develop a greater understanding of how CWD spreads. The international team will study details such as age, location, movements of affected deer and data on deer populations in these countries. 

Guided by mathematical tools, the project aims to identify the disease and predict its potential spread so researchers can develop and test control strategies. Currently, farmed animals that contract CWD must be culled. 

The team also aims to understand how an animal’s genes influence its susceptibility to disease. Defining the genes that make animals more resilient to infection could lead to selective breeding in farmed animals or support research into a vaccine, scientists say.

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Budding 'Dr Dolittles' sought for writing competition

News Story 1
 Vets are being invited to enter a writing competition run by the Page Turner Awards for a chance to get their story published or even made into a film.

Dubbed the 'Rolls Royce' of writing awards, the Page Turner competition provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to submit unpublished fiction and non-fiction work to be read by a panel of influential players in the publishing industry.

A spokesperson said: 'Do you think of yourself as a magical healer, like Dr Dolittle. Or maybe you have a story to share about the times when, sadly, animals can't be treated, and pet owners reflect on those moments they took for granted."

For more information, visit 

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News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

For more information, please click here.