Workshop on “Food Security: Infectious Diseases in Farm Animals”- Invited Lectures, Day 2

St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford,  UK,  4-7th April 2016 

Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)

This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.

The aims of the workshop were to build long-term and sustainable links between scientists in the UK and Egypt working in the field of infectious diseases of poultry and livestock.

The second day of the workshop  consisted of two sessions and included  four invited expert and engaging presentations by Professor Mohamed Shakal, Professor Fiona Tomly,  Professor Javier Guitian and Dr Roberto La Regione.

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Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford

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Workshop on “Food Security: Infectious Diseases in Farm Animals” brings together animal and veterinary scientists from Egypt and the UK

St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford, UK,  4-7th April 2016 

Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)

This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.

There were 50-60 delegates in attendance at the meeting, with approximately one-half of delegates coming from various faculties and Research Institutes of Cairo University. The other half of participants came from the UK, including the Pirbright Institute, Woking, Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London, Surrey University and Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

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Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford

In total, 21 oral presentations, excluding invited speakers, and 17 posters were included in the meeting programme.               

A representative of the British Council, Shaun Holmes, was scheduled to provide information on Newton Fund News and Future Funding Opportunities on day three of the meeting. I attended on behalf of CABI on day two of the event.

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Air pollution, can we reduce the impact of cars on urban air quality?

Air pollution in Delhi

Air pollution in Delhi

In January 2016, Delhi, India, improved air quality on its streets when it conducted a 2-week air pollution reduction experiment, with private cars allowed on the streets only on alternate days, depending on license plate numbers.   The idea is not new and has been tried elsewhere (Paris and Rome) but I guess its novelty (“who’d have thought” brigade) to the USA explained why it made The New York Times!

Last year, it was all headlines about Bejing [China] and the air quality citizens had to deal with. However it would seem that actually Beijing’s levels of PM10 (particulate matter up to 10 micrometres in size), a measure of air quality, decreased by 40% from 2000 to 2013, whereas Delhi's PM10 levels have increased 47% from 2000 to 2011.

Delhi's PM10 levels are nearly twice as much as in Beijing, and it has the worst PM 2.5 levels of 1600 cities in the world. Thus the need for the license plate experiment. In a BBC article, you can read more about the reasons “Why Delhi is losing its clean air war” and discover the varied & innovative measures China has taken to ameliorate motor car use.

No doubt spurred on by Delhi’s experiment, a health journalist in Bangladesh alerted the HIFA forum to the equally bad situation in India’s neighbour, Bangladesh.

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Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome strikes the UK

   Coughs  Sneezes Spread Diseases2
This week
, the UK became the latest country in 2015 to suffer suspected MERS cases.  Two suspected cases of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome (MERS) have forced a hospital in Manchester to shut its emergency department.  In May, similar events in South Korea (MERS-CoV in Republic of Korea at a glance), mishandled through ignorance and poor infection control within several hospitals, caused multiple outbreaks and a national emergency. Manchester has obviously learnt from their experience.

MERS is the latest virus to act as a global threat, hot on the heels of Ebola and SARS. It emerged in 2012 and has been an ongoing problem spreading to 10 countries in the Middle East, but the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, replaced it in world headlines (read MERS the next pandemic threat, which appeared also in the Global Health Knowledge Base.

What would happen should MERS ever reach a country with a poor health system?

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Reconciling Modern Animal Production Systems and Sustainability

By M Djuric, DVM

A consortium of 22 research partners from 11 countries has received a £10.6m grant from the European Union (EU) to improve pig and poultry production. This is the largest EU grant awarded in this field. The project aims at investigating ways to increase animal production quality, whilst limiting environmental impact and preserving profitability for the farming and animal food production sectors.

Pig-dThe research will be carried out by the Prohealth consortium, consisting of 10 academic partners, one European association, four industry partners, and seven small and medium-sized enterprises. The consortium has expertise in animal physiology and immunology, genetics and nutrition, veterinary science and epidemiology, socioeconomics, as well as welfare and production science of pigs and poultry. The consortium members come from Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and UK. The project was launched in Newcastle upon Tyne on 17 December and  will be co-ordinated by Newcastle University.

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New £45m Veterinary School at University of Surrey, UK – Construction to Begin

M Djuric, DVM

The proposal to construct a new Veterinary School of Medicine at the Manor Park campus of the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, UK has been given planning permission by the Guildford Borough Council. This will be one of eight of veterinary schools in the UK.

The new Veterinary school will consist of three buildings.  The main academic building will include offices, teaching spaces, lecture theatres, research laboratories, a cafe and an animal clinical skills centre –  the new school’s flagship centre.

Horses-CABIThe animal clinical skills centre will include a haptics laboratory, which will feature simulators that will help students to develop their clinical diagnostic skills and mock veterinary surgery practise.

The University of Surrey will receive a grant from the Higher Funding Council for England for the clinical skills centre, which will include an animal examination area, as well as livestock and handling areas.

The new school of Veterinary Medicine will invest in 65 new posts within the university and joint academic posts with partner institutions, as well as numerous support staff roles.

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Angry and sad at Xmas: victims of adolescent bullying

FACES_Tiny_with_creditThere have been far too many stories recently of desperate teenagers committing suicide, and an unknown number of families today will be reeling from the discovery that their teenager is seriously self-harming because of bullying. Mobile phones and social networking sites have exacerbated an age-old problem so that there is nowhere to hide. 

Poison-pen letter writers are no longer adults in detective stories. They have been brought right up-to-date, and are alive and well reincarnated in teenagers. Incapable of empathy with their victim, remote bullying via texts, phones, videoclips and the internet makes it so easy & so much more devastating, reaching  beyond a school, covering entire towns & counties,  and as its not face-to-face, even less likely for the teenage bully to empathise.

There also seems to be more serious consequences to bullying these days:  beyond loss of confidence, our society is experiencing a rise in self-harming and suicide amongst teenagers. Is it because teenagers these days are so interested in relationships & celebrity, following soaps avidly, that they are posting the minutiae of their lives online for all to see as if they were part of a soap opera?

What is the research evidence available to understand what’s going on?

I took a look and discovered to my horror that being bullied in primary schools can set you up to self-harm when you are a teenager in your next school.  Being Bullied During Childhood and the Prospective Pathways to Self-Harm in Late Adolescence ,  was co-authored at Warwick University, UK. Their press release reveals that 16.5% of 16-17 year olds had self-harmed in the previous year, and 26.9% of these did so because they felt as though they ‘wanted to die’. Those who were subjected to chronic bullying over a number of years at primary school were nearly five times more likely to self-harm six to seven years later in adolescence.[see press

Furthermore, other research shows being both the bully and the bully-victim is linked to an increased risk of suicide or mental illness. I also discovered that self-harming is a very difficult habit to break.

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