Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Fears For Deadly Virus Outbreaks In Livestock

Date:
April 2, 2009
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Global warming could have chilling consequences for European livestock, warned an expert. Since 1998, rising temperatures have led to outbreaks of bluetongue across most of Europe, which have killed over two million ruminants. Related viruses, such as African horse sickness virus, with a fatality rate of more than 95 percent and sharing the same insect vectors as bluetongue, could also be introduced.

Global warming could have chilling consequences for European livestock, warned Professor Peter Mertens from the Institute for Animal Health, at the meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate on March 30.

Since 1998, rising temperatures have led to outbreaks of bluetongue (BT) across most of Europe, which have killed over 2 million ruminants (mainly sheep). The outbreak (the largest on record) caused by Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8), which started in the Netherlands and Belgium during 2006, has since spread to most European countries, including the UK in August and September 2007. This outbreak, the first ever recorded in northern Europe, was not an isolated event. There are also fears that related viruses, such as African horse sickness virus, which can have a fatality rate of more than 95% and shares the same insect vectors as bluetongue, could also be introduced.

Bluetongue is spread by the biting midge, Culicoides imicola, which has recently colonised the northern Mediterranean coast, leading to outbreaks in affected regions. However, BT outbreaks have also been spread by other novel vector species of midge (C.pulicaris and C obsoletus groups), which are abundant across the whole of central and northern Europe. In experiments, a single bite from a fully infected midge can transmit the virus and as midges are blown across Europe "like aerial plankton" it is almost impossible to prevent them getting to the United Kingdom.

Warmer weather increases the rate of infection and virus replication in the midge itself, and increases their activity in more northern areas. Indeed, the 2006 outbreak started in the Netherlands when temperatures were six degrees higher than previously recorded. Mild winters may also play a significant part in the problem, as the midges that are not killed by the cold (in the absence of frosts) may survive in sufficient numbers to maintain a reservoir of the disease. It is clear that BTV-8 can also be transmitted directly between cattle, providing an overwintering mechanism for the virus to survive from one midge season to the next.

"We have seen outbreaks caused by twelve strains, from nine distinct serotypes of bluetongue virus, which have arrived in Europe via at least four different routes since 1998", said Professor Mertens, "This indicates that there has been a fundamental shift in bluetongue epidemiology, linked to climate change. In 2008 the UK vaccinated over 10 million sheep and cows against BTV-8 and was the only country in Europe to successfully suppress the disease outbreak. However different BT virus types have subsequently arrived in northern Europe which represent further threats to the UK for 2009 and beyond."

"These events demonstrate that the whole region is now at risk from further incursions of BT virus, as well as other insect transmitted viruses, many of which can also affect humans. Although the vaccines against BT virus currently available for use in northern Europe are relatively crude, as they are made from inactivated virus grown in tissue culture cells, it is clear that they can work against BTV-8. However, more advanced vaccines, made from the protein-subunits of the virus, along with diagnostic tests that can distinguish vaccinated from infected animals, are urgently needed. Vaccines are also needed for other related viruses, including African horse sickness virus, and potentially both Epizootic haemorrhagic disease virus and Equine encephalosis virus."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Climate Change Fears For Deadly Virus Outbreaks In Livestock." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330200716.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2009, April 2). Climate Change Fears For Deadly Virus Outbreaks In Livestock. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330200716.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Climate Change Fears For Deadly Virus Outbreaks In Livestock." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330200716.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins