Millions of pounds of Government funding has been awarded to veterinary researchers modelling the H1N1 “swine ‘flu” virus in British pigs, while people are warned to be alert to cases of the virus in companion animals, horses and poultry.

Millions of pounds of Government funding has been awarded to veterinary researchers modelling the H1N1 “swine ‘flu” virus in British pigs. However, practitioners in the UK and the US have urged people to be alert to cases of the new influenza virus in horses, companion animals and poultry.

H1N1DEFRA, in collaboration with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, has allocated £1.7m to projects run by James Woods of Cambridge vet school and VLA scientist Ian Brown, which aim to model disease spread among UK pigs and people, and discover possible immunopathology against H1N1.

The funders are also supporting human health research into the disease, totaling £4.8m.

Following cases of H1N1 in pigs in Northern Ireland, DEFRA has also announced the first known case of the disease in English animals after a Norfolk pig herd became infected.

Douglas KellBBSRC chief executive Douglas Kell said: “When we are faced with diseases that can jump the species barrier, like swine flu, we cannot separate research on animals and humans.
 
“We face a single challenge from an evolving species of virus. With researchers sharing data and resources across the human and animal barrier, and funders working together in these initiatives we have a real chance to understand how swine flu originated, how it is circulated in pigs and how we can prevent future pandemics.”

Prof Wood said his research, in conjunction with Prof Brown’s work, would utilise gene sequencing technology to look at the mutation of other ‘flu viruses to determine the epidemiology of H1N1.

See the full story in this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol. 39, No. 50)

 

H1N1 image: Anna Tanczos / Wellsome Trust
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