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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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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

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News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.