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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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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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News Shorts
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