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Scientists developing rapid diagnostic test for sheep scab
Sheep scab is a major welfare issue.
Test would enable diagnosis before the appearance of clinical signs

A rapid, point-of-care diagnostic blood test for sheep scab infestation is being developed by scientists at the Moredun Research Institute.

In a press release, Moredun said that it is working with veterinary diagnostics firm Global DX to complete the development and validation of the test.

‘Use of the test by veterinarians would enable them to rapidly diagnose sheep scab infestation before the appearance of clinical signs and importantly, without the need to send blood samples to a laboratory for analysis,’ the press release said. ‘Both of these points are highly important as they will allow for early interventions and treatments, thereby reducing the spread of disease.’

Sheep scab is an endemic disease in the UK and occurs in many sheep farming regions across the world. Caused by the parasitic mite Psoroptes ovis, the disease is a major welfare issue and affects the productivity of sheep farms.

For control programmes to be successful, it is critical that all infected animals are identified as soon as possible. However, this can prove difficult because, during the early stages of sheep scab, infestations are not always obvious.

'Results from a pen-side diagnostic are almost immediate,' Moredun continued. 'The new point of care test format will, therefore, significantly speed up the testing process.'

The test is highly specific because it detects host antibodies to a specific protein found only in the sheep scab mite. This means that it can accurately detect that an infestation is due to the scab mite and not another ectoparasite - both of which are critical for early intervention and in the administration of the correct treatment.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Global DX to further develop this test; the company has significant experience in the development and commercialisation of point of care tests for the veterinary market,” said Dr Stewart Burgess who is developing the diagnostic test at Moredun.
 
Andrew Shepherd, founder and CEO of Global DX added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Moredun to bring the new test to market enabling the sheep industry to combat sheep scab infestation in their flocks.”

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.