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First UK hares test positive for RHDV2
Brown hares have suffered a national decline of more than 80 per cent in the past century.

Scientists explore recent hare die-off 

Dead hares in Essex and Dorset have tested positive for rabbit haemorrhage disease virus type 2 (RHDV2). Scientists say it is the first time the disease variant has been found in UK hares.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) joined forces with local wildlife trusts, Defra and the APHA to determine the cause of hare deaths after members of the public began reporting sick and dead hares.

Lead author Dr Diana Bell said: “RHDV2 normally affects rabbits, but the disease is known to have jumped to European brown hares in Italy, Spain, France and Australia…

“RHDV2 is one of several pathogens we are finding in dead hares and it is too early to say which is currently the primary cause of the hare die-off. We are continuing to investigate other causes for the deaths.”

Last year members of the public were urged to photograph sick and dying hares, as well as collecting the bodies for autopsy.

Brown hares have suffered a national decline of more than 80 per cent in the past century, due to changes in agricultural practices. However, ongoing reports of dead and dying hares in the countryside has prompted fears that disease could also be contributing to the declines.

The team are continuing to collect dead hares for post mortem. If you find a freshly dead hare report it to Dr Bell by email:

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”