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New insights into retention of FMDV
The outcomes of the study could benefit farmers of African buffalo, whose herds can harbour the disease for five years or more.
Foot-and-Mouth Disease study explores persistent infection.

A new study has revealed detailed insights into how the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) causes persistent infection in livestock.

A team comprised of researchers from the Roslin Institute and the Pirbright Institute explored how FMDV interacts with immune cells, in order to inform the development of a future long-lasting vaccine.

Using mice in the study, the scientists found that FMDV binds to follicular dendritic cells, found in lymphoid tissues in the immune system, such as in the spleen.

The Pirbright Institute's Professor Bryan Charleston explained: “This research helps to bridge the knowledge gap of how the immune system deals with FMDV infection in large animals.

“Our extensive work in African buffalo, a natural host of the disease, allowed us to predict why and how persistence may occur and then test this theory in a small animal model.”

Follicular dendritic cells, which FMDV binds to, behave similarly to spider webs, trapping foreign particles and certain viruses within them for significant periods of time, in order for the other cells in the immune system to make immune responses.

This retention of the virus within the follicular dendritic cells is what the researchers believe may assist the virus in persisting in livestock, allowing them to become carriers and risking the health of other susceptible livestock.

Professor Neil Mabbott, of the Roslin Institute, commented on the value of the research for informing future vaccine development: “Our research has uncovered a key biological process by which the virus for Foot-and-Mouth Disease is able to remain in the immune systems of animals such as African buffalo.

“This could inform efforts to develop improved vaccines which, unlike current vaccines, provide longer term protection to safeguard livestock.”

The study is published in PLOS Pathogens.

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on minsmere@rspb.org.uk outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit moredun.org.uk