The Pirbright Institute publication directory contains details of selected publications written by our researchers.

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Duck virus enteritis is an acute contagious viral disease affecting birds of the order Anseriformes (ducks, geese and swans). The disease agent is a member of the Herpesviridae family (Anatidae herpes virus 1). A group of Anseriformes waterfowl from a Nature Reserve and Centre for the Recovery of Endangered Species in Spain suffered an outbreak of the disease, affecting adults, young and newborns. Other non-Anseriformes waterfowl such as coots, from the family Rallidae, order Gruiformes, were also affected. Histopathological and ultrastructural findings confirmed the viral infection. The present study provides evidence that birds different from the order Anseriformes can be affected, suggesting that the virus has the ability to infest other non-Anseriformes waterfows.


In this paper we report on an outbreak of reovirus, herpesvirus (Pacheco disease), and/or mycosis infection (Aspergillus spp. and Zygomyces spp.) affecting a batch of young African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), with 80% morbidity and 30% mortality. Study material was taken from five birds (four dead and one euthanatized) with a range of clinical symptoms (depression, diarrhea, respiratory symptoms). Diagnosis was confirmed by immunohistochemical detection of avian reovirus, electron microscopy, and virus isolation. Viral antigen of reovirus was detected mainly in large mononuclear cells in the bursa of Fabricius and the spleen, pancreas epithelia-l cells, and circulating cells; lymphoid organs displayed the largest number of immunopositive cells and severe lymphocyte depletion. Bacteriologic study was negative. Reovirus infection was common in all birds studied, whereas Pacheco disease and mycosis were found in only some, suggesting that reovirus could be the initial cause triggering the outbreak and facilitating infection by other agents and their swift spread through the batch.
Sanchez-Cordon P J, Salguero F J, Nunez A, Gomez-Villamandos J C, Carrasco L O (2002)

Glomerulonephritis associated with simultaneous canine adenovirus-1 and Dirofilaria immitis infection in a dog

Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series B-Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health 49 (5), 235-239


This article describes a case of glomerulonephritis and immunocomplex (IgM, IgG and C3c) deposition in the mesangium and basement membranes of a 2-year-old dog with canine viral hepatitis and dirofilariasis. The deposits observed in the mesangium were in the vicinity of cells with viral replication. However, no clear relationship was found between viral replication and the deposition of immunocomplexes in the glomerular capillary basement membranes, which may be the reason why these deposits have only been tentatively related to the concomitant infestation by Dirofilaria immitis.
Tchilian E Z, Beverley P C L (2002)

CD45 in memory and disease

Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis 50 (2), 85-93


CD45 (the leukocyte common antigen) is known to function as a tyrosine phosphatase in leukocyte signaling. Biochemical studies indicate that CD45 is involved in the regulation both of T cell receptor-associated kinases and Janus kinases that transmit signals from cytokine receptors. However, the function of the different isoforms of CD45 generated by complex alternative splicing, and indeed the role of the whole extracellular domain of the molecule, remain mysterious. Analysis of CD45 knock-outs and of transgenic mice expressing single CD45 isoforms, as well as the disease associations of human polymorphisms, is providing new insights into CD45 function. Accumulating data from these genetic and biochemical studies promises to elucidate the role of high and low molecular weight isoforms of CD45 in the function of naive and memory T lymphocytes.


Production of alpha/beta interferons (IFN-?/?) in response to viral infection is one of the main defense mechanisms of the innate immune system. Many viruses therefore encode factors that subvert the IFN system to enhance their virulence. Bunyamwera virus (BUN) is the prototype of the Bunyaviridae family. By using reverse genetics, we previously produced a recombinant virus lacking the nonstructural protein NSs (BUNdelNSs) and showed that NSs is a nonessential gene product that contributes to viral pathogenesis. Here we demonstrate that BUNdelNSs is a strong inducer of IFN-?/?, whereas in cells infected with the wild-type counterpart expressing NSs (wild-type BUN), neither IFN nor IFN mRNA could be detected. IFN induction by BUNdelNSs correlated with activation of NF-?B and was dependent on virally produced double-stranded RNA and on the IFN transcription factor IRF-3. Furthermore, both in cultured cells and in mice lacking a functional IFN-?/? system, BUNdelNSs replicated to wild-type BUN levels, whereas in IFN-competent systems, wild-type BUN grew more efficiently. These results suggest that BUN NSs is an IFN induction antagonist that blocks the transcriptional activation of IFN-?/? in order to increase the virulence of Bunyamwera virus.
Beard P M, Daniels M J, Henderson D, Pirie A, Rudge K, Buxton D, Rhind S, Greig A, Hutchings M R, McKendrick I, Stevenson K, Sharp J M (2001)

Paratuberculosis infection of nonruminant wildlife in Scotland

Journal of Clinical Microbiology 39 (4), 1517-1521


Recent reports of natural paratuberculosis (or Johne's disease) in rabbits, foxes, and stoats has focused debate on the presence and importance of wildlife reservoirs in the epidemiology of this disease. This paper describes an extensive study investigating 18 nonruminant wildlife species for evidence of paratuberculosis. Using both culture and histopathological analysis, fox, stoat, weasel, crow, rook, jackdaw, rat, wood mouse, hare, and badger were found to harbor Mycobacterium avium subsp, paratuberculosis, the causative organism of paratuberculosis, suggesting that the epidemiology of this disease is more complex than previously realized.

Beard P M, Rhind S M, Buxton D, Daniels M J, Henderson D, Pirie A, Rudge K, Greig A, Hutchings M R, Stevenson K, Sharp J M (2001)

Natural paratuberculosis infection in rabbits in Scotland

Journal of Comparative Pathology 124 (4), 290-299


Natural paratuberculosis infection of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was recently diagnosed in Scotland, and an investigation into the pathology of the disease in wild rabbits is reported in this paper. Evidence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (M.a. paratuberculosis) infection was detected in 22% of 110 rabbits: the organism was cultured from 17 of 110 rabbits, Land histopathological lesions consistent with many. paratuberculosis infection were noted in 18 of 98 rabbits examined. No macroscopical lesions suggestive of M.a. paratuberculosis infection were observed. The histopathological le,ions were either severe or mild. Severe lesions consisted of extensive macrophage granulomata and numerous giant cells, with many intracellular acid-fast bacteria in the small intestine. For the examination formalin-fixed, paraffin wax-embedded tissues, neither immunohistochemistry nor the polymerase chain reaction was as sensitive a method of diagnosis as histopathology.


The role of wildlife species in the epidemiology of paratuberculosis has been the subject of increased research efforts following the discovery of natural paratuberculosis in free-living rabbits from farms in east Scotland. This paper describes the experimental inoculation of young calves with an isolate of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis recovered from a free-living rabbit. After a 6-month incubation period, all eight calves inoculated with the rabbit isolate had developed histopathological and/or microbiological evidence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection. Similar results were obtained from a group of calves infected with a bovine isolate of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. The virulence of the rabbit isolate for calves demonstrated in this study suggests that rabbits are capable of passing paratuberculosis to domestic ruminants and that wildlife reservoirs of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis should therefore be considered when formulating control plans for the disease.

Carrasco L, Lima J S, Halfen D C, Salguero F J, Sanchez-Cordon P, Becker G (2001)

Systemic aspergillosis in an oiled Magallanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)

Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series B-Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health 48 (7), 551-554


This report describes a case of fatal aspergillosis caused by A. fumigatus during the recovery of an oiled Magallanic penguin. The possible role of aspergillosis as a possible complication responsible for the mortality of penguins surviving the first days of treatment for oil is emphasized.


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