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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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Rabbit Awareness Week set to return this summer

News Story 1
 Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is returning this summer, running from 24-28 June 2024. The theme for this year will be 'Healthy Diet, Happy Bunnies'.

The focus on rabbits' diet comes after the most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report report revealed that 42 per cent of veterinary professionals identified inappropriate diet as one of the five most important rabbit welfare issues that need to be address.

The campaign will include veterinary blogs, videos, and digital waiting room resources. Practices can sign up to receive updates about RAW. 

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CVS Group hit by cyber attack

CVS Group, which owns more than 450 veterinary practices in the UK, has been hit by a cyber attack.

In a statement, the group said the incident involved unauthorised external access to a limited number of its IT systems. As soon as the attack was discovered, the group took its IT systems temporarily offline, causing 'considerable operational disruption'.

It has warned that the security steps taken and ongoing plans to move its operational systems and IT infrastructure to the Cloud are likely to have an ongoing impact over a number of weeks.

Due to the risk that personal information was accessed, CVS has informed the Information Commissioner's Office. The company is working with third party consultants to investigate the incident.