Researching a red mite vaccine

28-12-2006 | |

The UK agriculture department (DEFRA) and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) are building on experience gained studying sheep scab mites, with the aim of applying that knowledge in the development of a vaccine for red mite in poultry.

Dr John Huntley, of Edinburgh’s Moredun Research Institute, says that major steps have been taken towards finding a vaccine for the parasite, which causes huge economic losses for the industry, and currently has very limited chemical treatment options.
The project is funded by DEFRA, and will be run in collaboration with SAC’s Avian Science Research Centre.
Researchers have discovered that red mites behave very similarly to the way cattle ticks respond to commercial vaccine – antibodies in the blood of vaccinated animals will prevent the mite feeding properly by targeting gut membrane proteins.
“The work started in October so it is early days yet, but already we have some fascinating and very encouraging results,” Dr Huntley observed.