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Leaky vaccines help reduce transmission of Marek’s disease
Leaky vaccines are currently the most commonly used method of controlling Marek's disease.

Study finds imperfect vaccines control severity of viral disease

A new study conducted on chickens infected with Marek’s disease has revealed that vaccines that do not prevent onward transmission or infection are more effective in controlling the severity of the disease than previously thought.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and the US Department of Agriculture’s Avian Disease and Oncology laboratory (ADOL), conducted the study to analyse how leaky vaccines impact overall populations.

One group of chickens received a leaky vaccine – this contained a related live virus originating from turkeys, which triggers an immune response, but no symptoms. While a second control group was given a sham vaccine, which contained no biological material. Both groups were then infected with Marek’s disease virus and placed with different sets of unvaccinated chickens for 48 hours.

More than 97 per cent of the birds became infected. However, the unvaccinated chickens that had contact with those who had received the leaky vaccine were less likely to develop full-blown Marek’s disease and there were also fewer deaths. This was found to be a result of vaccinated birds transmitting fewer copies of Marek’s disease virus.

Lead author Dr Richard Bailey, who is also a research fellow at the Roslin Institute, said: “In our study, we found that leaky vaccines can provide benefit in terms of reducing the presence and severity of symptoms, and mortality, caused by Marek’s disease even for unvaccinated chickens. We need further research to understand how this effect changes as the virus mutates and in other strains of chickens.” 

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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk