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Matthew Baylis - Top 30 Publications

Dairy heifers naturally exposed to Fasciola hepatica develop a type-2 immune response and concomitant suppression of leukocyte proliferation.

Fasciola hepatica is a parasitic trematode of global importance in livestock. Control strategies reliant on anthelmintics are unsustainable due to the emergence of drug resistance. Vaccines are under development, but efficacy is variable. Evidence from experimental infection suggest vaccine efficacy may be affected by parasite-induced immunomodulation. Little is known about the immune response to F. hepatica following natural exposure. Hence we analysed the immune responses over time in calves naturally exposed to F. hepatica infection.Cohorts of replacement dairy heifer calves (n=42) with no prior exposure to F. hepatica, on three commercial dairy farms, were sampled over the course of a grazing season. Exposure was determined through F. hepatica-specific serum antibody ELISA and fluke egg counts. Concurrent changes in peripheral blood leukocyte sub-populations, lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine responses were measured. Relationships between fluke infection and immune responses were analysed using multivariable linear mixed effect models.All calves from one farm showed evidence of exposure, whilst cohorts from the remaining two farms remained negative over the grazing season. A type-2 immune response was associated with exposure, with increased interleukin (IL)-4 production, IL-5 transcription and eosinophilia. Suppression of parasite-specific PBMC proliferation was evident; while decreased mitogen stimulated IFN-γ production suggested immunomodulation, which was not restricted to parasite-specific responses. Our findings show that the global immune response is modulated towards a non-proliferative type-2 state following natural challenge with F. hepatica This has implications for vaccination programmes in terms of the timing of administration of vaccination programmes, and for host susceptibility to co-infecting pathogens.

Torix group Rickettsia are widespread in Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae), reach high frequency and carry unique genomic features.

There is increasing interest in the heritable bacteria of invertebrate vectors of disease as they present novel targets for control initiatives. Previous studies on biting midges (Culicoides spp.), known to transmit several RNA viruses of veterinary importance, have revealed infections with the endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia and Cardinium. However, rickettsial symbionts in these vectors are underexplored. Here, we present the genome of a previously uncharacterized Rickettsia endosymbiont from Culicoides newsteadi (RiCNE). This genome presents unique features potentially associated with host invasion and adaptation, including genes for the complete non-oxidative phase of the pentose phosphate pathway, and others predicted to mediate lipopolysaccharides and cell wall modification. Screening of 414 Culicoides individuals from 29 Palearctic or Afrotropical species revealed that Rickettsia represent a widespread but previously overlooked association, reaching high frequencies in midge populations and present in 38% of the species tested. Sequence typing clusters the Rickettsia within the Torix group of the genus, a group known to infect several aquatic and hematophagous taxa. FISH analysis indicated the presence of Rickettsia bacteria in ovary tissue, indicating their maternal inheritance. Given the importance of biting midges as vectors, a key area of future research is to establish the impact of this endosymbiont on vector competence.

Systematic Assessment of the Climate Sensitivity of Important Human and Domestic Animals Pathogens in Europe.

Climate change is expected to threaten human health and well-being via its effects on climate-sensitive infectious diseases, potentially changing their spatial distributions, affecting annual/seasonal cycles, or altering disease incidence and severity. Climate sensitivity of pathogens is a key indicator that diseases might respond to climate change, but the proportion of pathogens that is climate-sensitive, and their characteristics, are not known. The climate sensitivity of European human and domestic animal infectious pathogens, and the characteristics associated with sensitivity, were assessed systematically in terms of selection of pathogens and choice of literature reviewed. Sixty-three percent (N = 157) of pathogens were climate sensitive; 82% to primary drivers such as rainfall and temperature. Protozoa and helminths, vector-borne, foodborne, soilborne and waterborne transmission routes were associated with larger numbers of climate drivers. Zoonotic pathogens were more climate sensitive than human- or animal-only pathogens. Thirty-seven percent of disability-adjusted-life-years arise from human infectious diseases that are sensitive to primary climate drivers. These results help prioritize surveillance for pathogens that may respond to climate change. Although this study identifies a high degree of climate sensitivity among important pathogens, their response to climate change will be dependent on the nature of their association with climate drivers and impacts of other drivers.

Co-occurrence of viruses and mosquitoes at the vectors' optimal climate range: An underestimated risk to temperate regions?

Mosquito-borne viruses have been estimated to cause over 100 million cases of human disease annually. Many methodologies have been developed to help identify areas most at risk from transmission of these viruses. However, generally, these methodologies focus predominantly on the effects of climate on either the vectors or the pathogens they spread, and do not consider the dynamic interaction between the optimal conditions for both vector and virus. Here, we use a new approach that considers the complex interplay between the optimal temperature for virus transmission, and the optimal climate for the mosquito vectors. Using published geolocated data we identified temperature and rainfall ranges in which a number of mosquito vectors have been observed to co-occur with West Nile virus, dengue virus or chikungunya virus. We then investigated whether the optimal climate for co-occurrence of vector and virus varies between "warmer" and "cooler" adapted vectors for the same virus. We found that different mosquito vectors co-occur with the same virus at different temperatures, despite significant overlap in vector temperature ranges. Specifically, we found that co-occurrence correlates with the optimal climatic conditions for the respective vector; cooler-adapted mosquitoes tend to co-occur with the same virus in cooler conditions than their warmer-adapted counterparts. We conclude that mosquitoes appear to be most able to transmit virus in the mosquitoes' optimal climate range, and hypothesise that this may be due to proportionally over-extended vector longevity, and other increased fitness attributes, within this optimal range. These results suggest that the threat posed by vector-competent mosquito species indigenous to temperate regions may have been underestimated, whilst the threat arising from invasive tropical vectors moving to cooler temperate regions may be overestimated.

Global risk model for vector-borne transmission of Zika virus reveals the role of El Niño 2015.

Zika, a mosquito-borne viral disease that emerged in South America in 2015, was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO in February of 2016. We developed a climate-driven R0 mathematical model for the transmission risk of Zika virus (ZIKV) that explicitly includes two key mosquito vector species: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus The model was parameterized and calibrated using the most up to date information from the available literature. It was then driven by observed gridded temperature and rainfall datasets for the period 1950-2015. We find that the transmission risk in South America in 2015 was the highest since 1950. This maximum is related to favoring temperature conditions that caused the simulated biting rates to be largest and mosquito mortality rates and extrinsic incubation periods to be smallest in 2015. This event followed the suspected introduction of ZIKV in Brazil in 2013. The ZIKV outbreak in Latin America has very likely been fueled by the 2015-2016 El Niño climate phenomenon affecting the region. The highest transmission risk globally is in South America and tropical countries where Ae. aegypti is abundant. Transmission risk is strongly seasonal in temperate regions where Ae. albopictus is present, with significant risk of ZIKV transmission in the southeastern states of the United States, in southern China, and to a lesser extent, over southern Europe during the boreal summer season.

Infectious bronchitis vaccine virus detection and part-S1 genetic variation following single or dual inoculation in broiler chicks.

An investigation was undertaken of the extent of genetic variation occurring within infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccine strains following vaccination of day-old broiler chicks. Chicks were divided into seven groups, with two groups receiving single Massachusetts (Mass) vaccinations while the other four were inoculated with combinations of different IBV serotypes; Mass, 793B, D274 and Arkansas (Ark). The remaining group was maintained as an unvaccinated control. Following vaccination, swabs and tissues collected at intervals were pooled and RNA was extracted for detection of IBV by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Positive amplicons were sequenced for the part-S1 gene and compared to the original vaccine strain sequences. Single nucleotide polymorphisms, amino acid variations and hydrophobicity changes were identified and recorded for each sampling point. A total of 106 single nucleotide polymorphisms were detected within 28 isolates. The average single nucleotide polymorphism counts of swab isolates were greater than those found in tissue samples. This translated into 64 amino acid changes; however only six resulted in a change to the hydrophobicity properties. All hydrophobic alterations occurred within swab isolates and the majority were recovered at 3 days post vaccination suggesting such changes to be detrimental to early virus survival. Nucleotide deletions were seen only in the group given the combination of Mass and Ark. Of the 16 sequenced samples in this group, 13 contained the same AAT deletion at position 1033 1035 in the Ark strains. Findings presented in this study demonstrate alteration in the S1 nucleotide sequence following co-administration of live IBV vaccines.

The potential role of Wolbachia in controlling the transmission of emerging human arboviral infections.

Wolbachia is a genus of Gram-negative intracellular bacteria that is naturally found in more than half of all arthropod species. These bacteria cannot only reduce the fitness and the reproductive capacities of arthropod vectors, but also increase their resistance to arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses). This article reviews the evidence supporting a Wolbachia-based strategy for controlling the transmission of dengue and other arboviral infections.

Modeling of spatio-temporal variation in plague incidence in Madagascar from 1980 to 2007.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which, during the fourteenth century, caused the deaths of an estimated 75-200 million people in Europe. Plague epidemics still occur in Africa, Asia and South America. Madagascar is today one of the most endemic countries, reporting nearly one third of the human cases worldwide from 2004 to 2009. The persistence of plague in Madagascar is associated with environmental and climatic conditions. In this paper we present a case study of the spatio-temporal analysis of plague incidence in Madagascar from 1980 to 2007. We study the relationship of plague with temperature and precipitation anomalies, and with elevation. A joint spatio-temporal analysis of the data proves to be computationally intractable. We therefore develop a spatio-temporal log-Gaussian Cox process model, but then carry out marginal temporal and spatial analyses. We also introduce a spatially discrete approximation for Gaussian processes, whose parameters retain a spatially continuous interpretation. We find evidence of a cumulative effect, over time, of temperature anomalies on plague incidence, and of a very high relative risk of plague occurrence for locations above 800 m in elevation. Our approach provides a useful modeling framework to assess the relationship between exposures and plague risk, irrespective of the spatial resolution at which the latter has been recorded.

A freedom from disease study: Schmallenberg virus in the south of England in 2015.

In 2011-2012, northern European livestock faced a threat from a newly emerged virus, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), only a few years after a major outbreak of bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8). Like BTV-8, SBV is transmitted by Culicoides biting midges to ruminants and spread throughout Europe. SBV, however, spread faster, reaching the UK within three months of initial discovery. Adult ruminants show only mild, if any, clinical signs; however, infection of naive ruminants by SBV during the vulnerable period of gestation leads to abortions, stillbirths and fetal malformations. Although some data exist for the prevalence of SBV on UK sheep farms early in the outbreak, we have no information on its current status. Is SBV still circulating in the UK? To answer this, the authors designed a freedom from disease study across the southernmost counties of the UK. During autumn 2015, 1444 sheep, from 131 farms, were tested for antibodies against SBV by ELISA; 5 samples from 4 farms were twice found positive by ELISA but were later confirmed negative by virus neutralisation test. As the sheep were born between October 2014 and April 2015, the authors conclude that it is unlikely that SBV is still circulating in the south of England.

Evaluation of the vector competence of a native UK mosquito Ochlerotatus detritus (Aedes detritus) for dengue, chikungunya and West Nile viruses.

To date there has been no evidence of mosquito-borne virus transmission of public health concern in the UK, despite the occurrence of more than 30 species of mosquito, including putative vectors of arboviruses. The saltmarsh mosquito Ochlerotatus detritus [syn. Aedes (Ochlerotatus) detritus] is locally common in parts of the UK where it can be a voracious feeder on people.

Experimental infection of IS/885/00-like infectious bronchitis virus in specific pathogen free and commercial broiler chicks.

Pathogenesis of an IS/885/00-like (IS/885) strain of variant infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) was examined in one day old specific pathogen free (SPF) and commercial broiler chicks. Chicks were humanely euthanized at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 21 and 28 days post infection (dpi) for necropsy examination, and tissues were collected for histopathology and virus detection by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Respiratory clinical signs and gross lesions consisting of tracheal caseous exudate and plugs, and swollen kidneys (with or without) urate deposits were observed in SPF and broiler chicks. The onset of disease developed more slowly and were of lesser severity in broiler compared to SPF chicks, reflecting the inhibitory effects of the IBV maternal-antibodies in the broiler chicks or genetic/strain susceptibility, or both. Head swelling was observed in one infected broiler chick at 15 dpi and the virus was recovered by RT-PCR and isolation. In the IS/885-infected SPF chicks, cystic oviducts were found in two female chicks. IS/885 was isolated from the cystic fluid. Using ELISA, low to moderate levels of the antibodies to IBV was detected in the SPF compared to broiler infected chicks.

A model to assess the efficacy of vaccines for control of liver fluke infection.

Fasciola hepatica, common liver fluke, infects cattle and sheep causing disease and production losses costing approximately $3 billion annually. Current control relies on drugs designed to kill the parasite. However, resistance is evident worldwide and widespread in some areas. Work towards a vaccine has identified several antigens of F. hepatica that show partial efficacy in terms of reducing worm burden and egg output. A critical question is what level of efficacy is required for such a vaccine to be useful? We have created the first mathematical model to assess the effectiveness of liver fluke vaccines under simulated field conditions. The model describes development of fluke within a group of animals and includes heterogeneity in host susceptibility, seasonal exposure to metacercariae and seasonal changes in temperature affecting metacercarial survival. Our analysis suggests that the potential vaccine candidates could reduce total fluke burden and egg output by up to 43% and 99%, respectively, on average under field conditions. It also suggests that for a vaccine to be effective, it must protect at least 90% of animals for the whole season. In conclusion, novel, partial, vaccines could contribute substantially towards fasciolosis control, reducing usage of anthelmintics and thus delaying the spread of anthelmintic resistance.

Emergence or improved detection of Japanese encephalitis virus in the Himalayan highlands?

The emergence of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in the Himalayan highlands is of significant veterinary and public health concern and may be related to climate warming and anthropogenic landscape change, or simply improved surveillance. To investigate this phenomenon, a One Health approach focusing on the phylogeography of JEV, the distribution and abundance of the mosquito vectors, and seroprevalence in humans and animal reservoirs would be useful to understand the epidemiology of Japanese encephalitis in highland areas.

Innate and adaptive immune responses to tick-borne flavivirus infection in sheep.

The flaviviruses tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and louping ill virus (LIV) are closely-related genetically and antigenically, have broadly similar host ranges that include rodents and other mammals (including sheep), and are both transmitted by the same tick species, Ixodes ricinus. Although human infection with TBEV results in a febrile illness followed in some cases by encephalitis, humans appear to be much less susceptible to infection with LIV. However, these viruses demonstrate different susceptibilities in sheep; LIV infection causes encephalitic disease, whereas TBEV infection generally does not. To investigate the role of the immune response in this mixed outcome, groups of sheep were inoculated with either virus, or with a primary inoculation with one virus and secondary inoculation with the other. Markers of both adaptive and innate immune responses were measured. In each group studied, infection resulted in seroconversion, demonstrated by the detection of virus specific neutralising antibodies. This appeared to control infection with TBEV but not LIV, which progressed to a febrile infection, with transient viraemia and elevated levels of serum interferon. This was followed by neuroinvasion, leading to up-regulation of innate immune transcripts in discrete areas of the brain, including interferon inducible genes and chemokines. Prior inoculation with TBEV did not prevent infection with LIV, but did appear to reduce disease severity and viraemia. We postulate that LIV has adapted to replicate efficiently in sheep cells, and disseminate rapidly following infection. By contrast, TBEV fails to disseminate in sheep and is controlled by the immune response.

Zika virus and neurological disease--approaches to the unknown.

Effect of temperature and relative humidity on the development times and survival of Synopsyllus fonquerniei and Xenopsylla cheopis, the flea vectors of plague in Madagascar.

Plague, a zoonosis caused by Yersinia pestis, is found in Asia, the Americas but mainly in Africa, with the island of Madagascar reporting almost one third of human cases worldwide. In the highlands of Madagascar, plague is transmitted predominantly by two flea species which coexist on the island, but differ in their distribution. The endemic flea, Synopsyllus fonquerniei, dominates flea communities on rats caught outdoors, while the cosmopolitan flea, Xenopsylla cheopis, is found mostly on rats caught in houses. Additionally S. fonquerniei seems restricted to areas above 800 m. Climatic constraints on the development of the two main vectors of plague could explain the differences in their distribution and the seasonal changes in their abundance. Here we present the first study on effects of temperature and relative humidity on the immature stages of both vector species.

Heterologous live infectious bronchitis virus vaccination in day-old commercial broiler chicks: clinical signs, ciliary health, immune responses and protection against variant infectious bronchitis viruses.

Groups of one-day-old broiler chicks were vaccinated via the oculo-nasal route with different live infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccines: Massachusetts (Mass), 793B, D274 or Arkansas (Ark). Clinical signs and gross lesions were evaluated. Five chicks from each group were humanely killed at intervals and their tracheas collected for ciliary activity assessment and for the detection of CD4+, CD8+ and IgA-bearing B cells by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Blood samples were collected at intervals for the detection of anti-IBV antibodies. At 21 days post-vaccination (dpv), protection conferred by different vaccination regimes against virulent M41, QX and 793B was assessed. All vaccination programmes were able to induce high levels of CD4+, CD8+ and IgA-bearing B cells in the trachea. Significantly higher levels of CD4+ and CD8+ expression were observed in the Mass2 + 793B2-vaccinated group compared to the other groups (subscripts indicate different manufacturers). Protection studies showed that the group of chicks vaccinated with Mass2 + 793B2 produced 92% ciliary protection against QX challenge; compared to 53%, 68% and 73% ciliary protection against the same challenge virus by Mass1 + D274, Mass1 + 793B1 and Mass3 + Ark, respectively. All vaccination programmes produced more than 85% ciliary protection against M41 and 793B challenges. It appears that the variable levels of protection provided by different heterologous live IBV vaccinations are dependent on the levels of local tracheal immunity induced by the respective vaccine combination. The Mass2 + 793B2 group showed the worst clinical signs, higher mortality and severe lesions following vaccination, but had the highest tracheal immune responses and demonstrated the best protection against all three challenge viruses.

Climate-driven changes to the spatio-temporal distribution of the parasitic nematode, Haemonchus contortus, in sheep in Europe.

Recent climate change has resulted in changes to the phenology and distribution of invertebrates worldwide. Where invertebrates are associated with disease, climate variability and changes in climate may also affect the spatio-temporal dynamics of disease. Due to its significant impact on sheep production and welfare, the recent increase in diagnoses of ovine haemonchosis caused by the nematode Haemonchus contortus in some temperate regions is particularly concerning. This study is the first to evaluate the impact of climate change on H. contortus at a continental scale. A model of the basic reproductive quotient of macroparasites, Q0 , adapted to H. contortus and extended to incorporate environmental stochasticity and parasite behaviour, was used to simulate Pan-European spatio-temporal changes in H. contortus infection pressure under scenarios of climate change. Baseline Q0 simulations, using historic climate observations, reflected the current distribution of H. contortus in Europe. In northern Europe, the distribution of H. contortus is currently limited by temperatures falling below the development threshold during the winter months and within-host arrested development is necessary for population persistence over winter. In southern Europe, H. contortus infection pressure is limited during the summer months by increased temperature and decreased moisture. Compared with this baseline, Q0 simulations driven by a climate model ensemble predicted an increase in H. contortus infection pressure by the 2080s. In northern Europe, a temporal range expansion was predicted as the mean period of transmission increased by 2-3 months. A bimodal seasonal pattern of infection pressure, similar to that currently observed in southern Europe, emerges in northern Europe due to increasing summer temperatures and decreasing moisture. The predicted patterns of change could alter the epidemiology of H. contortus in Europe, affect the future sustainability of contemporary control strategies, and potentially drive local adaptation to climate change in parasite populations.

Sero-surveillance and risk factors for avian influenza and Newcastle disease virus in backyard poultry in Oman.

Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle disease (ND) are the most important reportable poultry diseases worldwide. Low pathogenic AI (H9N2) and ND viruses are known to have been circulating in the Middle East, including in Oman, for many decades. However, detailed information on the occurrence of these pathogens is almost completely lacking in Oman. As backyard poultry are not vaccinated against either virus in Oman, this sector is likely to be the most affected poultry production sector for both diseases. Here, in the first survey of AI and ND viruses in backyard poultry in Oman, we report high flock-level seroprevalences of both viruses. Serum and oropharyngeal swabs were taken from 2350 birds in 243 backyard flocks from all regions and governorates of Oman. Information was recorded on location, type of bird and housing type for each sampled farm. Individual bird serum samples were tested using commercial indirect antibody detection ELISA kits. Pooled oropharyngeal samples from each flock were inoculated onto FTA cards and tested by RT-PCR. Samples came from chickens (90.5%), turkeys (2.1%), ducks (6.2%), guinea fowl (0.8%) and geese (0.4%). The bird-level seroprevalence of antibody to AI and ND viruses was 37.5% and 42.1% respectively, and at the flock level it was 84% and 90% respectively. There were statistically significant differences between some different regions of Oman in the seroprevalence of both viruses. Flock-level NDV seropositivity in chickens was significantly associated with AIV seropositivity, and marginally negatively associated with flock size. AIV seropositivity in chickens was marginally negatively associated with altitude. All oropharyngeal samples were negative for both viruses by RT-PCR, consistent with a short duration of infection. This study demonstrates that eight or nine out of ten backyard poultry flocks in Oman are exposed to AI and ND viruses, and may present a risk for infection for the commercial poultry sector in Oman, or wild birds which could carry infection further afield.

Database of host-pathogen and related species interactions, and their global distribution.

Interactions between species, particularly where one is likely to be a pathogen of the other, as well as the geographical distribution of species, have been systematically extracted from various web-based, free-access sources, and assembled with the accompanying evidence into a single database. The database attempts to answer questions such as what are all the pathogens of a host, and what are all the hosts of a pathogen, what are all the countries where a pathogen was found, and what are all the pathogens found in a country. Two datasets were extracted from the database, focussing on species interactions and species distribution, based on evidence published between 1950-2012. The quality of their evidence was checked and verified against well-known, alternative, datasets of pathogens infecting humans, domestic animals and wild mammals. The presented datasets provide a valuable resource for researchers of infectious diseases of humans and animals, including zoonoses.

Protection conferred by live infectious bronchitis vaccine viruses against variant Middle East IS/885/00-like and IS/1494/06-like isolates in commercial broiler chicks.

The ability of the infectious bronchitis H120 (a Massachusetts strain) and CR88 (a 793B strain) live attenuated vaccine viruses to protect from two Middle East infectious bronchitis virus isolates, IS/885/00-like (IS/885) and IS/1494/06-like (IS/1494) in broiler chicks was investigated. Day-old chicks were separated into three groups, (I) vaccinated with H120 at day-old followed by CR88 at 14 days-old, (II) vaccinated with H120 and CR88 simultaneously at day-old and again with CR88 at 14 days-old, (III) control unvaccinated. At 30 days-old, each of the groups was challenged with virulent IS/885 or IS/1494. Protection was evaluated based on the clinical signs, tracheal and kidney gross lesions and tracheal ciliostasis. Results showed that administering combined live H120 and CR88 vaccines simultaneously at day-old followed by CR88 vaccine at 14 days-old gave more than 80 per cent tracheal ciliary protection from both of the Middle East isolates. In addition, this programme conferred 100 per cent protection from clinical signs and tracheal or kidney lesions. The other vaccination programme, H120 at day-old followed by CR88 at 14 days-old, the tracheal ciliary protection conferred were 60 per cent and 80 per cent from IS/885/00-like and IS/1494/06-like, respectively.

Epidemiology and impact of Fasciola hepatica exposure in high-yielding dairy herds.

The liver fluke Fasciola hepatica is a trematode parasite with a worldwide distribution and is the cause of important production losses in the dairy industry. The aim of this observational study was to assess the prevalence of exposure to F. hepatica in a group of high yielding dairy herds, to determine the risk factors and investigate their associations with production and fertility parameters. Bulk milk tank samples from 606 herds that supply a single retailer with liquid milk were tested with an antibody ELISA for F. hepatica. Multivariable linear regression was used to investigate the effect of farm management and environmental risk factors on F. hepatica exposure. Higher rainfall, grazing boggy pasture, presence of beef cattle on farm, access to a stream or pond and smaller herd size were associated with an increased risk of exposure. Univariable regression was used to look for associations between fluke exposure and production-related variables including milk yield, composition, somatic cell count and calving index. Although causation cannot be assumed, a significant (p<0.001) negative association was seen between F. hepatica exposure and estimated milk yield at the herd level, representing a 15% decrease in yield for an increase in F. hepatica exposure from the 25th to the 75th percentile. This remained significant when fertility, farm management and environmental factors were controlled for. No associations were found between F. hepatica exposure and any of the other production, disease or fertility variables.

A comparison of commercial light-emitting diode baited suction traps for surveillance of Culicoides in northern Europe.

The response of Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) to artificial light sources has led to the use of light-suction traps in surveillance programmes. Recent integration of light emitting diodes (LED) in traps improves flexibility in trapping through reduced power requirements and also allows the wavelength of light used for trapping to be customized. This study investigates the responses of Culicoides to LED light-suction traps emitting different wavelengths of light to make recommendations for use in surveillance.

Local dispersal of palaearctic Culicoides biting midges estimated by mark-release-recapture.

Farm to farm movement of Culicoides midges is believed to play a critical role in the spread of bluetongue (BT), Schmallenberg and other midge-borne diseases. To help understand and predict the spread of diseases carried by midges, there is a need to determine their dispersal patterns, and to identify factors contributing to the direction taken and distance travelled.

Modelling recent and future climatic suitability for fasciolosis in Europe.

Fasciola hepatica is a parasitic worm responsible for fasciolosis in grazed ruminants in Europe. The free-living stages of this parasite are sensitive to temperature and soil moisture, as are the intermediate snail hosts the parasite depends on for its life-cycle. We used a climate-driven disease model in order to assess the impact of recent and potential future climate changes on the incidence of fasciolosis and to estimate the related uncertainties at the scale of the European landmass. The current climate appears to be highly suitable for fasciolosis throughout the European Union with the exception of some parts of the Mediterranean region. Simulated climatic suitability for fasciolosis significantly increased during the 2000s in central and northwestern Europe, which is consistent with an observed increased in ruminant infections. The simulation showed that recent trends are likely to continue in the future with the estimated pattern of climate change for northern Europe, possibly extending the season suitable for development of the parasite in the environment by up to four months. For southern Europe, the simulated burden of disease may be lower, but the projected climate change will increase the risk during the winter months, since the simulated changes in temperature and moisture support the development of the free-living and intra-molluscan stages between November and March. In the event of predicted climate change, F. hepatica will present a serious risk to the health, welfare and productivity of all ruminant livestock. Improved, bespoke control programmes, both at farm and region levels, will then become imperative if problems, such as resistance of the parasite associated with increased drug use, are to be mitigated.

Validation of fluorescent dust marking of Culicoides biting midges and the design of a self-marking technique.

Investigation of insect flight patterns frequently involves the use of dispersal studies. A common method for studying insect dispersal is mark-release-recapture (MRR) techniques using wild-caught insects in their natural environment; however, this requires a suitable marker. At present, no studies have been performed to identify markers that are suitable for use in midges within the Obsoletus Group, and visible by eye or down a light microscope.

Molecular detection of infectious bronchitis and avian metapneumoviruses in Oman backyard poultry.

Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) are economically important viral pathogens infecting chickens globally. Identification of endemic IBV and aMPV strains promotes better control of both diseases and prevents production losses. Orophrayngeal swab samples were taken from 2317 birds within 243 different backyard flocks in Oman. Swabs from each flock were examined by RT-PCR using part-S1 and G gene primers for IBV and aMPV respectively. Thirty-nine chicken flocks were positive for IBV. Thirty two of these were genotyped and they were closely related to 793/B, M41, D274, IS/1494/06 and IS/885/00. 793/B-like IBV was also found in one turkey and one duck flock. Five flocks were positive for aMPV subtype B. Though no disease was witnessed at the time of sampling, identified viruses including variant IBV strains, may still pose a threat for both backyard and commercial poultry in Oman.

Immune responses and interactions following simultaneous application of live Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis and avian metapneumovirus vaccines in specific-pathogen-free chicks.

Interactions between live Newcastle disease virus (NDV), avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) and infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccines following simultaneous vaccination of day old specific pathogen free (SPF) chicks were evaluated. The chicks were divided into eight groups: seven vaccinated against NDV, aMPV and IBV (single, dual or triple) and one unvaccinated as control. Haemagglutination inhibition (HI) NDV antibody titres were similar across all groups but were above protective titres. aMPV vaccine when given with other live vaccines suppressed levels of aMPV enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibodies. Cellular and local immunity induced by administration of NDV, aMPV or IBV vaccines (individually or together) showed significant increase in CD4+, CD8+ and IgA bearing B-cells in the trachea compared to the unvaccinated group. Differences between the vaccinated groups were insignificant. Simultaneous vaccination with live NDV, aMPV and IBV did not affect the protection conferred against aMPV or IBV.

Effectiveness of screening for Ebola at airports.

A non-stationary relationship between global climate phenomena and human plague incidence in Madagascar.

Plague, a zoonosis caused by Yersinia pestis, is found in Asia and the Americas, but predominantly in Africa, with the island of Madagascar reporting almost one third of human cases worldwide. Plague's occurrence is affected by local climate factors which in turn are influenced by large-scale climate phenomena such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The effects of ENSO on regional climate are often enhanced or reduced by a second large-scale climate phenomenon, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). It is known that ENSO and the IOD interact as drivers of disease. Yet the impacts of these phenomena in driving plague dynamics via their effect on regional climate, and specifically contributing to the foci of transmission on Madagascar, are unknown. Here we present the first analysis of the effects of ENSO and IOD on plague in Madagascar.