The Pirbright Institute, in partnership with the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), has been awarded £90,000 by Defra to analyse the threat posed to UK livestock and horses from insect- and tick-borne viruses, and the UK's capability to respond to these threats.
These viruses are highly responsive to environmental change, as illustrated by the recent emergence of bluetongue virus in Europe and West Nile virus in the US. Whilst some of these viruses cause only mild disease or would be unlikely to spread in the UK, others could result in the deaths of tens of thousands of animals - such as African horse sickness virus, which kills up to 90% of the horses it infects.
The scientists will identify the greatest threats to the UK and produce an up-to-date inventory of national facilities and expertise. They will also highlight areas where knowledge is lacking, and suggest priorities for future research. This is in line with Defra's "Evidence Investment Strategy" of using scientific evidence to identify emerging issues and to support decision-making.
The six-month project, which has just begun, is led by Dr Anthony Wilson and Professor Tony Fooks (VLA).
|Midge Culicoides sonorensis
|Soft tick Ornithodoros