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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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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.”