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Teaming up to fight bluetongue disease

Culicoides midge biting. Credit: IAH

BBSRC and DFID co-funding has enabled UK researchers to work with counterparts in India to study the causes of devastating ‘hyper-endemic’ outbreaks of bluetongue disease. Unlike the UK, where an outbreak was successfully thwarted by BBSRC scientists and Defra colleagues in 2007, bluetongue is endemic in India, and some strains of the virus cause substantial damage to the sheep flocks kept by rural subsistence farmers.

Data breakout

30% Mortality rate in a flock hit by hyper-endemic outbreak in India
£480M Estimated value to UK economy of preventing bluetongue outbreak in 2007
10,000 Number of UK jobs estimated as saved by preventing bluetongue outbreak in 2007

The international team of researchers, led by Dr Simon Carpenter from The Pirbright Institute, formerly the Institute for Animal Health, are looking at ways to control the Culicoides midges that spread the virus that causes the disease.

The work builds on IAH’s strengths in bluetongue epidemiology research, which includes being Community Reference Laboratory for Europe, and the local knowledge and expertise provided by researchers from the All India Network Programme on Bluetongue. The IAH researchers are also providing training for Indian researchers and PhD students to help build capacity to tackle bluetongue.

The project was funded as part of the £13M BBSRC-DFID Combating Infectious Diseases of Livestock for International Development (CIDLID) initiative, which also received a contribution from the Scottish Government.

Read the full impact evidence report:

UK-India collaboration on bluetongue research (PDF 210KB)

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