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Virus study to investigate cattle ‘commingling events’
Cattle commingling can be complex and stressful, impacting the animals' ability to fight disease.
The US-UK collaboration will focus on cattle-type coronavirus.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool are to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Minnesota to investigate the impact of ‘commingling events’ on virus spread in cattle.

The study aims to discover why some people and cattle become infected and sick during commingling events, while some do not.

To investigate this, the group will monitor the spread of a cattle-type coronavirus among commingling cattle. This will involve measuring the immune systems of the cattle, as well as the microbes in their body, in an effort to understand how the differences impact whether cattle get infected or sick.

The focus on commingling as a transmission risk was vital during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, when situations such as mass-gathering events, back-to-school and air travel were restricted to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, commingling events among unfamiliar animals take place regularly during livestock production. These events can be complex and feature many stressors, which impacts animals’ ability to fight disease, while also exposing them to more pathogens.

Much like during the COVID-19 pandemic, virus spread in commingling events has the potential to have global consequences.

The researchers will monitor the spread of the cattle-type coronavirus using metagenomic and immunological data, as well as advanced modeling techniques.

This study into disease transmission will be led by Dr Noelle Noyes, associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in a collaborative research team with other US institutions as well as the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences.

It will be funded by a $3.5 million award from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The findings are expected to have an immediate effect on livestock husbandry practices, as well as developing an understanding of virus behaviour that may support future research.

Dr Joe Neary, a senior lecturer in livestock health and welfare at the University of Liverpool, said: “We hope to uncover the complex multi-level mechanisms that underlie viral transmission during intensive mixing of unfamiliar calves,

“These new insights will better inform calf husbandry practices to reduce infectious disease transmission risk, particularly where newly mixed calves have been sourced from multiple farms.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.