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Scientists seek avian flu tests to assess emerging strains
"It is critical that we seek to better understand the risks associated with these potentially harmful viruses" - Professor Lonneke Vervelde.

Outcomes could support ongoing global surveillance measures.

Scientists are seeking to develop tissue tests that can identify mild strains of avian influenza that have the potential to become more dangerous.

Led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, the project will focus on both mild and more severe strains associated with recent outbreaks.

The results could identify the risks linked to emerging strains, so those with a high potential for disease can be better managed. Scientists say the outcomes could also support ongoing global surveillance measures for avian flu.

“We know that mild H5 H7 strains can become very dangerous, but it is becoming clear that other mild strains are, to our surprise, becoming more virulent,” explained Professor Lonneke Vervelde of the Roslin Institute. “It is critical that we seek to better understand the risks associated with these potentially harmful viruses.”

In the project, researchers will seek to discover the biological factors that cause some low-risk avian flu strains to become more dangerous. They will do this by manipulating the RNA of some influenza strains in the laboratory to identify the genetic code linked to the risk of harmful disease.

The team will also assess how these viruses interact with wild birds and poultry to understand the potential risks from viruses that pass between the two groups. Experiments will test the impact of the strains on various tissues to check for signs of severe disease than would be expected in domestic or wild birds.

The project is a collaboration with Royal GD Animal Health in the Netherlands, the University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany, the National Veterinary Research Institute of Poland, and the National Food Chain Safety Office Veterinary Diagnostic Directorate in Hungary.

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'Rolls Royce' of writing awards, the Page Turner competition provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to submit unpublished fiction and non-fiction work to be read by a panel of influential players in the publishing industry.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

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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.

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