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Wild deer could be a "reservoir" for Schmallenberg
Scientists believe farm virus could affect wild animals

European scientists have raised concerns that the livestock virus Schmallenberg has been found in wild animals, which could act as a "reservoir" of infection.

Dr Mutien-Marie Garigliany, a veterinary expert at the Universite de Liege in Belgium is part of a team of experts studying cases of SBV in wildlife. As a result of their research, which suggests wild animals such as roe and red deer are affected by the virus, Dr Garigliany has called for "specific surveillance of wild animals for SBV."

Whilst it is believed wild deer can catch the virus, the affect of them and their offspring is as yet unknown. Dr Rachael Tarlinton, a virology expert and veterinary scientist at the University of Nottingham, said "we know wild deer get the virus [because] they produce antibodies to it. But deer have a different placental structure to cows and sheep - so we don't know if it gets across the placenta to affect foetuses."

According to Professor Trevor Drew of the UK government's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the virus can infect native red deer, fallow deer, sika deer and roe deer. Speaking to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, Professor Drew raised the difficulties faced with controlling Schmallenberg, a virus passed by bites from midges and other insects.

"It is just impossible to control midges across an area the size of Europe. Even if we had some national campaign, it would be quite simple that the midges would be blown over and of course we cannot control the disease in wild deer."

The huge financial impact of Schmallenberg on some farms is well known, with research from the University of Nottingham suggesting losses as high as 30 per cent in some infected flocks. While speaking to the select committee, the UK's deputy chief veterinary officer Alick Simmons noted that while a vaccine against SBV is not yet available, several are in development.

"This is a disease which we believe will either through vaccination or through natural spread become less of a problem over time," he told the committee. "And already in the areas we have been affected in northern Europe and to a certain extent in the south east of England, the disease is less than it was last year."

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New 'DoggyLottery' to raise funds for rescue centres

News Story 1
 A new 'DoggyLottery' to raise funds for dog rescue centres in the UK will launch on Saturday (4 July). Every four weeks, five different rescue centres will be connected to the lottery, providing much-needed funds - particularly during COVID-19 - and providing vital online exposure.

A weekly game costs £1.50 and entrants will have the chance of being one of 20 guaranteed winners. A massive 60 per cent of the raised funds will go towards the dog rescue centres, more than double that donated by leading lottery companies to charitable causes.

To find out more and play the lottery, visit www.doggylottery.co.uk  

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News Shorts
International Cat Care appoints new head of veterinary division

International Cat Care (ICC) has announced the appointment of Nathalie Dowgray as head of the charity's veterinary division.

Nathalie, who is an RCVS advanced practitioner in feline medicine, will lead the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and a play key role in advancing knowledge and research in feline medicine.

Claire Bessant, iCatCare's chief executive said: "We're absolutely delighted to be welcoming Nathalie to the charity. She brings a depth and breadth of feline expertise and understanding which fits perfectly with the charity's work and development, and her enthusiasm for cats is infectious."