Herpesviruses are large enveloped DNA viruses that are widespread in vertebrate species. They cause lifelong infections of thier host because the virus is able to hide from the host immune system by becoming latent - shutting down its activity inside infected cells. Changes in the host, caused by stress, immunosuppression or other infections, allow the virus to escape from latency and produce a progeny virus that can be shed to infect other hosts.
Livestock herpesviruses cause a range of clinical diseases including infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), a major respiratory disease of cattle; and malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), a fatal lymphoproliferative disease. However livestock species carry many other herpesviruses that haven't been so clearly associated with clinical disease, such as bovine herpesvirus-4, sometimes associated with reproductive disorders; and ovine herpesvirus-1, which may be linked with the infectious lung tumour ovine pulmonary adencarcinoma (OPA).
Herpesvirus research at Moredun is aimed at improving the available diagnostic tools in collaboration with the MRI Virus Surveillance Unit; developing vaccination strategies that might block the establishment of latency; and studying the pathology of herpesvirus disease to help develop novel treatments.
Current projects include:
- Analysis of respiratory and systemic isolates of bovine herpesvirus-1.
- Characterisation of ovine herpesvirus-1 and its association with OPA.
- Molecular pathogenesis of MCF viruses.
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