World Zoonoses Day: diseases that spread from animals to people

Friday, July 5, 2019
University of Edinburgh

Investigating superbugs, flu, malaria, rabies and tuberculosis.

World Zoonoses Day celebrates the first vaccination against rabies - a zoonotic disease i.e. an infectious disease that can be spread between animals and people - successfully administered by Louis Pasteur on 6th July 1885.

To celebrate this achievement, we have put together some of the work on zoonoses conducted by researchers at the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

Superbugs: genetics and food poisoning

Our scientists conduct research with a range of superbugs. They have shed light on how a major cause of human and animal disease (a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus) can jump between species, by studying its genes. A number of superbugs are responsible for food poisoning and we work on investigating antibiotic resistance by Listeria, the survival of different types of Salmonella in cattle, as well as using machine learning to train computers to ‘recognise’ the subset of Escherichia coli strains present in cattle that are a threat to human health.

Bird and swine flu

Our flu research covers several angles. It spans from identifying genes that are important in reducing infection by Influenza A virus in pigs and chickens, and genes that limit the spread of the virus to people, to understanding how flu spreads around the world, as well as producing gene-edited chicken cells that are resistant to bird flu. At the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre, school pupils can become scientists for a day and learn how chickens are infected with the influenza virus.

Malaria and our blood cells

One of our teams is investigating whether our blood cells play a role in malaria, anaemia and invasive bacterial disease. Most malaria cases are asymptomatic, but can still have mild anaemia. The team has joined forces with the MRC Unit The Gambia to test immune function in Gambian children. Roslin Director Professor Eleanor Riley, who leads the team, was the first woman to receive the Ronald Ross medal by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in recognition of her work in malaria and contributions to strengthening research capacity in Africa. In the future, genetic modification of mosquitos may play a role in stopping the disease.

...follow the link to read the article in full on the University of Edinburgh website...