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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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Huge spike in ‘designer’ dogs going into rescue

News Story 1
 The RSPCA has reported a huge spike in the number of ‘designer’ dogs arriving into its care.

Figures published by the charity show there has been a 517 per cent increase in the number of French bulldogs arriving into its kennels. During that time, the charity has also seen an increase in dachshunds, chihuahuas, and crossbreeds.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and Dachshunds."

 

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News Shorts
New shearing guidance for farmers and contractors

Industry bodies have produced guidance for farmers and contractors on how to handle sheep during shearing to avoid stress and injury.

The guidance includes every step - from the presentation of sheep and facilities for shearing, through to using a contractor and shearers - and aims to ensure shearing is carried out safely, efficiently and with high standards of animal welfare.

Guide co-author Jill Hewitt from the NAAC said: “Shearing is a professional job that takes significant skill. Shearers take their responsibility to protect animal welfare very seriously and it will be a positive step to remind everyone of the importance of working together.’