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Study highlights link between bird feeders and disease
Garden feeders can encourage birds to repeatedly gather in the same location.

Public urged to feed birds in moderation and rotate feeding sites

Garden bird feeders put wild birds at risk of serious diseases, according to research led by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

A study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. found that garden feeders can encourage birds to repeatedly
gather in the same location. Scientists say this often brings them into regular contact with other species they wouldn’t otherwise be in contact with.

The study was carried out in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Fera Science Ltd. The scientists analysed more than 25 years’ worth of data on the frequency of wild bird health threats, focusing on protozoal (finch trichomonosis), viral (Paridae pox) and bacterial (passerine salmonellosis) diseases.

“Our study shows how three of the most common diseases that affect British garden birds have changed both dramatically and unpredictably over the past decade, both in terms of the species they affect and their patterns of occurrence,” said lead author Dr Becki Lawson from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

“Both finch trichomonosis and Paridae pox have emerged recently, causing disease epidemics affecting large numbers of birds, while passerine salmonellosis – previously a common condition – appears to have reduced to a very low level. These conditions have different means of transmission – so deepening our understanding of disease dynamics will help us develop best practice advice to ensure that feeding garden birds also helps to safeguard their health”.

The study makes some recommendations to minimise the potential risks assisted with feeding wild birds. When disease outbreaks occur, people are encouraged to report their observations to the Garden Wildlife Health project, seek veterinary guidance, and consider a temporary halt to garden feeding to encourage birds to disperse.

“We’re calling on everyone who feeds wild birds to be aware of their responsibilities for preventing disease,” commented co-author Kate Risely from the BTO. “Simple steps we’d recommend include offering a variety of food from accredited sources, feeding in moderation so that feeders are typically emptied every 1-2 days, the regular cleaning of bird feeders, and rotation of feeding sites to avoid accumulation of waste food or bird droppings.”

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Charity reveals it treated thousands of pets with dental issues last year

News Story 1
 Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has revealed that its veterinary team performs dental procedures on more than 170 animals every month. Last year the charity says it extracted hundreds of teeth from more than 800 animals and carried out thousands of routine scales and polishes.

To combat the problem, Battersea is urging pet owners to get regular dental checks at their vets, implement a daily oral care routine, feed a good dental chew and only give toys that are designed for dogs, including gentle rubber toys that are less wearing on the teeth. 

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Voting opens for RCVS council elections

Eligible veterinary surgeons can now vote in this year’s RCVS Council elections. Four out of the 10 candidates are already on council and are standing for re-election: David Catlow, Mandisa Greene, Neil Smith, Susan Paterson. The remaining six candidates are not currently on council: John C Davies, Karlien Heyman, John Innes, Thomas Lonsdale, Matthew Plumtree and Iain Richards.

Further information on the candidates can be found on the RCVS website: