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Emerging pathogen found in salamanders in the EU
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) was first identified in 2013 and causes a fatal skin disease in non-resistant species.

Efsa recommendations to protect pet and wild amphibians 

An emerging fungal pathogen has been detected in captive and wild salamanders across five EU member states, a new report shows.

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) was first identified in 2013 and causes a fatal skin disease in non-resistant species.

Despite limited surveillance, the pathogen has been seen in pet salamanders in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, according to a new report by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa).

It has also been detected in wild populations in some parts of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

As surveillance is limited, however, the pathogen could be more widely spread than currently known.

To ensure safer trade of live salamanders in the EU and internationally, Efsa suggested a potential ban or restrictions on salamander imports, though the authority noted that this could also boost the illegal trade. Other methods include hygiene procedures, good practice manuals and efforts to identify and treat infected pets.

In the wild, Efsa recommended preventing the translocation of wild amphibians, as well as the release/return to the wild of captive or temporarily housed salamanders. Contact points and emergency teams should also be set up for passive surveillance.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • enhance surveillance
  • introduce a harmonised protocol on Bsal detection in the EU
  • raise awareness of Bsal among breeders, keepers and pet shops
  • put together guidelines on hygiene procedures
  • movements of captive salamanders should be based on health status (Bsal negative)
  • improve data on salamander abundance and distribution.

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Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

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BVA infographic to help shoppers understand farm assurance schemes

An infographic to help members of the public understand farm assurance schemes has been produced by the BVA. The infographic outlines BVA’s priorities for animal welfare and shows whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."