Moredun's Disease Surveillance experts, in partnership with SRUC's Veterinary Services, provide a specialist service to diagnose, monitor and horizon scan for livestock diseases in Scotland.
Activity is focused within the Virus Surveillance Unit and in the Pathology laboratory which undertakes specialist histopathological surveillance of neuropathological and reproductive conditions of farm animals for the whole of Scotland.
The diagnosis of disease can be a complex and arduous job, requiring highly trained and experienced individuals. It is mystery solving at its most extreme and the staff within the Surveillance Unit frequently encounter many unusual cases including new and emerging diseases.
The Virus Surveillance Unit (VSU) at Moredun contributes to two important aspects of the Scottish rural economy. The first of these is the control of endemic disease in domestic livestock and the second is through the study of the effect of viruses on the biodiversity of wildlife.
In addition, the resources at Moredun and the experience of the staff are invaluable for advising on the diagnosis of any new animal disease that may emerge. By monitoring changes occurring in viruses under field conditions, especially after the introduction of new vaccines, new and re-emerging pathogens can be detected and identified.
Real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been used to develop a new generation of highly sensitive, quantitative tests to detect and identify ruminant pestiviruses, louping-ill virus, bovine respiratory viruses, ruminant herpesviruses and marine mammal viruses such as phocine herpesvirus 1 and dolphin/seal morbillivirus. In addition, conventional PCRs followed by sequencing have been developed to detect and identify specific viral variants, such as rabbit haemorrhagic disease type 2 and gE deleted IBR.
More recently, the VSU has begun supporting work aimed at understanding the risk for the human population from tick-transmitted diseases (such as, louping ill, tick borne fever, babesiosis and Lyme disease) by developing pathogen-specific tests which could be employed for both host and ticks.
The VSU provides specialist virological support to the disease control centres of SRUC and to other veterinary laboratories. Some diagnostic testing for other clients can also be performed by individual arrangement. Due to their expertise, the VSU staff contributed significantly to the initial stage of the testing for SARS-CoV-2 during 2020 and 2021 by setting up the test in the high containment facilities present at Moredun.
For further information please contact Dr Mara Rocchi.
All of the listed diagnostic or clinical specimens are classed as UN3373: Biological Substance Category B and must be packaged and shipped accordingly
Please ship samples to:
Virus Surveillance Unit,
Moredun Research Institute,
Pentlands Science Park,
Scotland EH26 0PZ
Note: All samples submitted for testing must be clearly marked FAO the Virus Surveillance Unit.
Please contact the Virus Surveillance Unit directly for test cost details:
Tel: 0131 445 5111
Pathology is the study of changes in animal tissues that occur due to disease. Some of these changes are visible directly with your own eyes (gross pathology). However, others require a light microscope (histopathology) and special staining or labelling techniques to see them.
Pathology helps scientists to identify which different types of cells are being affected and in which tissues, as well as identifying the different types of inflammation produced by an animal’s own white blood cells, in an effort to defend against and hopefully resolve a particular infection.
As Moredun’s research focuses on infectious diseases of livestock, information provided by the pathologists is crucial. Moredun’s own specialist Pathology Unit employs two full time veterinary pathologists and two scientific support staff who apply their specialist skills to many of the research projects. In addition, the Pathology Unit provides general support for all of Moredun’s research by supplying digital image capture and analysis of cell preparations and tissues.