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BTV-8 re-emerging in northern Europe, APHA warns
Owing to the weaker pathogenicity of the re-emerging strain, there may be fewer clinical signs than the 2007 strain.
Weaker pathogenicity means clinical signs may be fewer 

Vets are being reminded of the risk of bluetongue virus, as serotype 8 re-emerges in northern Europe.

According to an APHA briefing, there have been reports from France of calves being born small and blind, dying at just a few days old, since mid-December 2018. There has been a considerable increase in reports since January this year.

The affected animals have been positive by PCR on blood and spleen for BTV-8. APHA said the detection of BTV-8 in calves of around a week old, during the culicoides vector-free period, suggests transplacental infection.

Since the first reports of cases, 418 samples have tested positive for BTV-8 by PCR, with between two and 15 per cent of newborn calves affected on some farms.

Further studies using experimental midge infection suggest that the current BTV-8 strain in France has a reduced culicoides vector competence.

Official veterinarians are being urged to consider BTV-8 as a possible cause of malformed calves or abortion, and to be aware that the re-emerging strain in northern Europe could cause transplacental transmission and infection of foetuses in cattle.

Owing to the weaker pathogenicity of the re-emerging strain, there may be fewer clinical signs than the 2007 strain, so APHA says an increase in awareness is important.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.