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EFSA issues update on African swine fever
African swine fever has been spreading throughout Eastern and Central Europe.
Early detection ‘increases probability of eradication’

More research is needed to understand the cause of African swine fever (ASF) in pigs and how this can be prevented. This is according to the latest update on the epidemiological situation of ASF, published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The report concludes that early detection of ASF, together with the application of control measures, ‘increases the probability of eradication’. These measures include the removal or carcasses and intensive hunting in specially designed areas.

It also recommends control measures for different scenarios, such as in non-affected areas close to or far away from affected areas, or where the disease has been present for over a year.

Using a simulation model, the report's authors observed seasonal peaks in the numbers of animals that tested positive for ASF and were found dead. This was summer and winter for wild boar and summer for domestic pigs.

'Several driving forces could explain an increase in the proportions of positive samples that are tested either in winter or summer, such as the virus, the wild boar ecology, the pig farming husbandry, the involvement of vectors or human behaviour,’ EFSA said. ‘As yet, however, there is a lack of evidence in support causal associations.’

African swine fever has been spreading throughout Eastern and Central Europe and has also been confirmed in China. In affected areas, the disease has been confirmed in wild boar, as well as on farms, smallholdings and pet pigs.

In November 2018, an article was sent by the APHA to Official Veterinarians in the UK. Endorsed by chief veterinary officers Christine Middlemiss, Robert Huey, Sheila Voas and Christianne Glossop, the article included details on how to keep pigs free of ASF and images of the clinical signs.

‘Anything you can do to promote these messages amongst your colleagues and to your pig-keeping clients is valuable in reducing the risk of introduction of ASF to the UK, whether their pigs are pets, or in small-scale or commercial herds,’ the APHA said.

‘In addition, if you are visiting clients who have pigs, take the opportunity to discuss and demonstrate best biosecurity practices to them.’

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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.”