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Novel viruses carried by Scottish midge
There are at least 41 different species of biting midge described in the UK, of which 37 are present in Scotland.

Biting midge population carries previously-unknown viruses

According to new research, published in Viruses, scientists at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research have used high-throughput sequencing to study, for the first time, to determine the total collection of viruses in the biting midge, Culicoides impunctatus.
 
The scientists discovered several new viruses in the ‘virome’ of the midge, including an alphanodavirus, two rhabdo-like viruses and a chuvirus. These viruses are mainly found in insects and other invertebrates, but some members of the alphanodaviruses naturally infect pigs and herons, sometimes causing death.
 
The newly-identified viruses were found to be sufficiently different from known species to be categorised as novel. However, there is currently no evidence that these viruses pose a threat to humans. 
 
Despite their prevalence in Scotland, midges – small biting flies that are a predominantly a nuisance to humans – are currently understudied. Yet midges are carriers of arboviruses (viral infections transmitted to humans from a group of insects) and were responsible for the emergence and spread of Schmallenberg virus in Europe in 2011, and are likely to be involved in the emergence of other arboviruses in Europe.
 
There are at least 41 different species of biting midge described in the UK, of which 37 are present in Scotland.

Viral metagenomics, the name of the technique used to identify the midge viruses, has been widely presented and accepted within the scientific community as one of the most unbiased methods for the characterisation of viral sequences.
 
The midges studied were collected at the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment, located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park; and the study was funded by the Medical Research Council.

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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
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SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."