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European birds identified as hosts of fatal Asian disease
The study found that barn swallows could harbour Japanese encephalitis.

Study reveals species most likely to host flaviviruses 

Some of Europe's most common bird species have been identified as hosts for a fatal virus that is endemic in parts of Asia.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that carrion crows and barn swallows could harbour Japanese encephalitis - an infection of the brain found throughout South East Asia, the Far East and the Pacific Islands.

Japanese encephalitis is found in birds and pigs and is transmitted to mosquitoes when they bite an infected animal.

It is thought that a rising population, together with increasing temperatures, could increase the number of mosquitoes that carry the virus in Europe, which may then lead to the virus becoming endemic in birds.

Speaking to The Guardian, Christine Kreuder Johnson, a co-author of the study and professor of veterinary medicine at University of California, Davis, said: “If the mosquito and the virus show up in Europe there are a number of wildlife hosts and the disease could cause quite a lot of problems.”

In the study, researchers identified the animal species most likely to host flaviviruses - a group of viruses that includes yellow fever, Zika, dengue and Japanese encephalitis.

After entering all known data into a computer modelling programme, they were able to identify the species most likely to harbour viruses. They found 173 species that harbour dengue virus, of which 139 had not been recognised until now.

Their study also revealed that primates are the main hosts of yellow fever and Zika. But of the 21 primate species thought to harbour the viruses, just nine have been identified with either of these diseases. 

Image (C) WIkimedia Commons.

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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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News Shorts
NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”