VEGA News Item

Uterine Diseases - 11/05/2012

Europe’s dairy industry incurs a loss of about €1.4 billion each year from uterine disease according to a recent study.
According to the Veterinary Record, 28 April 2012, research groups at the universities of Swansea and Glasgow in the UK, the University of Veterinary Medicine of Hannover in Germany and INRA in France are collaborating with Pfizer Animal Health on the IPUD (Integrated systems approach for Preventing Uterine Disease in dairy cattle) project.

Peter Jeffries, group director, business development and global alliances at Pfizer Animal Health said: “The objective of the consortium approach is to bring together the best minds in the research institutes around Europe to address one of the most costly and neglected cattle diseases.”

However, we believe that the purpose of the consortium essentially is to increase production. They may be combating mastitis and the other familiar diseases, but these are commonly known as ‘production diseases’. Greater attention will be paid to production diseases like caesarean parturition and the needs of genetically engineered bovine freaks warns VEGA.

According to the Veterinary Record article, the group will be led by Martin Sheldon, of the School of Medicine at Swansea University. He explained that it wanted to learn more about the dynamics of uterine disease and to translate novel strategies into potential products that limited its impact. “Bacterial infections of the uterus after parturition commonly cause uterine disease and infertility in dairy cattle, and these infections have a significant impact on the EU dairy industry due to infertility and mortality,” he said. He added that research into uterine infection had been neglected compared with other major diseases and there were currently no vaccines or prevention strategies.

Hans-Joachim Schuberth, of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, said that a particular aim of the consortium was to find out what happened when a pathogen colonised the uterus: “By understanding what happens within the immune system – which is something we don't have a clear picture of at the moment – we believe that then we can find the right ways to treat or prevent this disease.”

According to Olivier Sandra of INRA, the diverse research skills of the group will enable it to target different areas of the disease, and then combine the knowledge. “This is a multifactorial approach designed to understand a lot more about the disease and pathogens involved, with the ultimate aim of finding a solution to combating it.”

We’ve known for years about the diseases and every obstacle seems to have been put in the way of finding a solution. Why is it that the dairy industry can continue in this way when plant milks are easily available in Europe? It’s almost as if the industry wants to keep a secret from the customer. Should we tolerate this secrecy and should we expect use of a few vegetarian words – or is v*g*n a dirty word?

The least we can do and the most immediate is to tell the customer about the availability of alternative milks. Why hold back this information for their benefit? We’re coming to the point where there are parallels with the way that the medical services tackled smoking and alcoholism – it was initially unpopular, but we now have success or partial success. We now have around us all these discoveries of science.


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