Video transcript: The Pirbright Institute

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November 2010

Professor Martin Shirley CBE, Director, IAH (2004-2010)
The Institute for Animal Health's primary goal is delivering high quality fundamental strategic and applied research into a number of diseases which are either resident in the UK or prone to threat to the UK. The Institute employs just under 400 staff and our annual running budget is around £30M. The Institute has a number of large scale projects and many of these revolve around improved diagnosis of major pathogens in the development of new or better vaccines against these livestock diseases.

The biggest current success, I guess, would be our provision of scientific data to a number of stakeholder groups and working with those stakeholder groups include Defra and the National Farmers Union to ensure that the UK remains completely free of Bluetongue virus during 2008. The saving to the UK was measurable in terms of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Professor Philip Mellor OBE, Research Leader, IAH
The Bluetongue virus first arrived here in 2007 and that was the first occasion that Bluetongue virus had ever been in this country and, indeed, it was part of an outbreak which was the first time the Bluetongue virus had ever been in Northern Europe and in predicting the arrival of Bluetongue virus in Northern Europe and in the UK and in getting rid of Bluetongue virus once it was here is an area of work that we at the Institute for Animal Health have been much involved with.

Dr Chris Oura, Research Leader, IAH
We're the national, the European Union and the OIE World Reference Laboratory for Bluetongue so we are very much at the forefront of Blue Tongue research throughout the world. One of the main things we do here is we carry out all the testing for the farmers so any time an animal is tested once it has come into the country after it has come from an area where Bluetongue has been circulating, we will be testing that animal. Any animal that is going abroad, we will be testing it. Any animal that is showing clinical signs of Bluetongue, we will be confirming exactly whether its Blue Tongue and then we will be confirming exactly what serial type it is.

Professor Philip Mellor OBE, Research Leader, IAH
In sheep Bluetongue virus causes a severe disease.

Camera shows a sheep with Bluetongue with its diseased tongue showing

It causes severe swelling and also haemorrhaging and also causes mortality up to about 50 or 60%. The work carried out here at the Institute for Animal Health on Bluetongue virus has had a direct and massive impact upon the UK economy. It has been estimated that the work carried out in 2008 alone saved £500M and 10,000 jobs.

Camera shows stills of mosquitoes then a few images of new laboratories

Controlling a disease today does not guarantee control tomorrow and climate change is predicted to bring more pests and diseases to the UK. A £100M investment in new laboratories will therefore form the UK's frontline against emerging threats and old enemies.

Professor Philip Mellor OBE, Research Leader, IAH
Global warming is becoming more of an issue and that means that a number of other diseases are also likely to extend into regions where they were previously not present because the increase in temperature affects the insects which transmit these diseases. There are a number of other diseases that this transmits and one of the most severe is African horse sickness.

Camera shows hundreds of flies then two flies close-up sucking blood

This, as it name implies, is an African disease but its showing increasing activity in Africa and it has a track record of previously invading Europe. It kills approximately 80% of horses that it infects. That would be cataclysmic to the equine industry in the UK.

Camera shows several clips of scientists working in the field

Professor Martin Shirley CBE, Director, IAH (2004-2010)
I think the Institute for Animal Health fills a really important gap in the scientific capability of the UK and it fills that gap because there are areas of science that are just to big and too difficult for the commercial sector to engage with. One of the past successes has been the development of a unique vaccine against a major poultry parasitic disease called Coccidiosis

Camera show the pathogen under a microscope and then the vaccine in pack form

Professor Martin Shirley CBE continues
…and that vaccine which has now been introduced and used for 20 years is now the biggest selling vaccine of its type anywhere in the world.

Camera shows images of IAH

The work at the Institute for Animal Health, I think, is undoubtedly recognised internationally as being incredibly strong and important. We worked with a number of stakeholders again to eliminate Rinderpest on the planet which will be formally acknowledged in 2010.

Camera shows images from the Rinderpest campaign

Dr Chris Oura, Research Leader, IAH
Rinderpest is a virus that causes a disease called cattle plague and has killed millions and millions of animals across the world. At the Institute for Animal Health we have taken a lead role in carrying out the eradication of this virus. Recently there have only been certain areas in the world where it has been confined to but since 2001 there have been no cases of Rinderpest so we were pretty sure that this virus has been eradicated. At the moment smallpox is the only virus that has been eradicated but hopefully Rinderpest will be the second.