Glasgow scientists tackle animal diseases with US counterparts

Issued: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT

Scientists in Glasgow are working with colleagues at Kansas State University to tackle animal diseases caused by bunyaviruses.

The University has received a grant of £479,311 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the US Department of Agriculture to look at new ways of controlling emerging viruses.

The funding is part of the US-UK Collaborative Animal Health and Disease and Veterinary Immune Reagents program.

Bunyaviruses are responsible for a range of conditions in ruminant animals such as cattle, sheep and goats – including the Schmallenberg Virus which was first detected in the UK in January 2012.

Schmallenberg Virus can cause fever, diarrhoea, reduced milk production, still births and birth defects and is thought to be spread by midges. A vaccine was developed for the virus in 2013 and now protects animals in the UK.

Professor Richard Elliott, the Bill Jarrett Chair of Infectious Diseases, said: “Ensuring our food supplies are safe is hugely important, particularly as demand increases and resources are stretched.

“This grant will allow us to gain a greater understanding of emerging threats and, should any new viruses similar to Schmallenberg arise in the UK, enable us to develop means to deal with them.”

Steve Visscher, BBSRC Deputy Chief Executive, International, said: "A growing world population means that safe and secure food supplies are going to become more and more important in the years to come. The scale of such challenges require increased international collaboration, and this partnership of co-investment between BBSRC and NIFA will allow world-leading researchers in both countries to work together to combat livestock diseases and safeguard food supplies."

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