Lumpy skin disease (LSD), a high-impact disease of cattle and water buffalo, is a direct threat to the European cattle industry. The causative agent is the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), an enveloped dsDNA virus which belongs to the family Poxviridae. Affected cattle present multiple cutaneous nodules that are characteristic of a LSDV infection. The case fatality rate of LSD is low, however affected animals suffer substantial production losses including weight loss and reduced milk production. On a wider scale, LSD is a high consequence transboundary disease with mandated export restrictions imposed on affected countries leading to substantial economic costs. Currently, there is no cure for LSDV infected cattle. Hence, mass vaccination is an important component in minimizing the spread of LSDV. There are only a handful of commercially available live attenuated vaccines in the current market. These vaccines vary in efficacy, quality, and safety, which leaves some scope for further development. This improvement is hampered by a poor understanding of the immunology of LSDV, particularly the protective immune mechanisms. In this project, we are investigating the immune response to LSDV with a focus on characterising the cell-mediated immune response. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from LSDV immunised/infected cattle and flow cytometry assays are used to detect the production of IFN-γ by CD4+T-helper cells and CD8+cytotoxic T cells in response to live LSDV stimulation. Our goal is to improve understanding of the immune response to LSDV in order to develop effective vaccines and control programs in the future.

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