Visit by technical expert from University of Calgary, Canada

A team comprising of three scientists from the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Canada visited National Centre for Animal Health, Serbithang from 2nd July - 9th July 2017 to discuss and initiate on the technical Collaboration on development of molecular vaccines against Haemorrhagic Septicemia (HS) in ruminants.

The members in the team were:
1. Dr. Anthony Bernard Schryvers
2. Dr. Edouard Timsit
3. Dr Vahid Farshchi Andisi

HS is an important bacterial disease that affects buffalo, cattle, yaks, goats and sheep and endemic in most countries in South Asia including Bhutan. The disease is caused by Pasteurella multocida, a gram-negative bacteria. This includes serotype B:2 Pasteurella multocida that causes haemorrhagic septicemia (HS) in cattle and buffalo in Asia and different strains of P. multocida and Mannhemia haemolytica that cause septicemic disease in large and small ruminants in Africa. In Bhutan, the disease is reported sporadically in cattle every year, mainly in the rainy seasons.

In all countries where disease occurs, vaccination is being used to prevent and control the disease. Currently, whole bacterial cell vaccines are widely used including in Bhutan. However, these vaccines confer immunity for very short duration (less than six months) because of which vaccinations need to be done at least bi-annually. This would incur additional costs for the use of vaccines to control the disease. Therefore, globally research is being done to produce molecular vaccines (protein based) that would confer longer and effective protective immunity following vaccination.

The goal of this project, therefore, is to develop molecular vaccines against HS in ruminants through collaborative research that will improve the strength of the immune response and ability to protect against different strains of HS. The other objective is to build technical capacity within Bhutan to produce such vaccines through transfer of technology as part of the technical collaboration. An effective, safe and potent molecular HS vaccine will be a boon to the livestock farmers of Bhutan through protection of their animals against this disease.

In the first phase of the project, the focus will be on the development of suitable vaccine formulations. For this the collaborative research would be to assess the prevalence of diversity of HS bacterial strains in Bhutan (Asia) and Ethiopia (Africa) through field sampling from ruminants. Therefore one of the purposes of expert’s visit to NCAH was also to conduct training on collection of URT samples from ruminants, where two day training was conducted at NCAH by the visiting scientists for laboratory technicians from NCAH and RLDCs funded by the project. In this phase of the project NCAH, the project will also provide diagnostic reagents such as primers to establish molecular diagnosis of HS at NCAH.

Depending upon the success of first phase, there will be second phase of the project subject to the success of the first phase. The second phase will focus on technology transfer on production of molecular HS vaccines, protein production and upgradation of facilities at NCAH.

Overall expected project output would be
• Building in-house technical capacity for development of molecular HS vaccines in the country
• Strengthening technical capacity on diagnosis of HS at molecular level thereby resulting in effective prevention and control of the disease.
• Establishment of networking with research institutes in Canada for future collaboration on other livestock diseases.

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