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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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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”