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Distemper case prompts pet travel warning
"Importation of dogs...has the potential to reintroduce other infectious diseases."
Pet imports could cause rare infectious diseases to reemerge, vets warn

Edinburgh vets have warned of the possible reemergence of infectious diseases now considered rare in the UK, due to pet travel. The warning comes as vets report the first case of canine distemper in north-east England for many years.

Writing in the Veterinary Record (Vol 175, No 17), vets from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies say they have confirmed a puppy presented for post-mortem examination was infected with canine distemper.

A gravid cross-breed bitch imported from Bulgaria last year has been confirmed as the source of the infection.

In a letter to the Vet Record, Royal Dick vets said the case "emphasis[es] the risk of introducing infection through pet immigration.

"While the risk of introducing rabies by this mechanism is clearly of major concern, the authors wish to highlight the possibility that importation of dogs, whether controlled or illicit, has the potential to reintroduce other infectious diseases that are currently considered to be rare in the UK, unless suitable controls and checks are implemented."

Vets are therefore urged to consider canine distemper more often when making a differential diagnosis in cases where suspicion is raised by clinical signs and history.

In this particular case, the bitch had been presented at a veterinary practice in north-east England after showing signs of the upper respiratory tract while travelling from Bulgaria, followed by intermittent inappetence, pyrexia, lethargy and serous nasal discharge over the next two months.

After being imported from Bulgaria on August 25, 2013, the bitch gave birth to a litter of four puppies on August 30. Two weeks after whelping, the puppies developed inappetence/anorexia, serous nasal discharge, diarrhoea, anaemia and tachypnoea/dyspnoea.

All four puppies died or were euthanised between the ages of three and six weeks and one was presented for post-mortem exam at the Royal Dick vet school.

Writing in Vet Record, vets from the Edinburgh school said: "We conclude that the bitch was infected with canine distemper virus when imported from Bulgaria while pregnant…and that the virus was transmitted postnatally to the puppies."

It is the first case that has been seen in the region for many years, although two cases of the disease were recently reported in rehomed puppies in the south west of the country (Adamantos and Warman (2014)).

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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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BVA Welsh Branch elects new president

Veterinary surgeon Ifan Lloyd was elected president of the BVA Welsh Branch at its AGM on 25 June.

Ifan has worked mainly in mixed practice since graduating from Cambridge University in 1988. He was a partner at St James Veterinary Group for 23 years and has continued to work part time at the practice since retiring in 2017.

He is passionate about animal health and disease eradication. He is a director of Cefn Gwlad Solutions, a company set up to lead bovine TB programmes in collaboration with other stakeholders. He is also director of lechyd Da (gwledig), the bTB testing delivery partner in South Wales.

Ifan said, “As a founding member of BVA Welsh Branch I am honoured and delighted to be elected as President. I have been passionate about representing the veterinary profession in Wales for many years and I plan to use this experience to represent my colleagues to the best of my abilities.”