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New strain of canine distemper found in the US
The distinct virus strain was detected over a one-year period in eight animals.

Strain is “significantly distinct” from vaccines, scientists say 

A new strain of canine distemper virus has been found in wild animals in New Hampshire and Vermont, scientists have revealed.

The distinct virus strain was detected over a one-year period in eight animals, including three fishers, two gray foxes, one skunk, one raccoon and one mink.

All eight were infected with a strain that has only been seen in a single raccoon in Rhode Island in 2004. It had not previously been described in any publication.

Senior veterinary pathologist David Needle, of the University of New Hampshire, said this strain is “significantly distinct” from vaccine strains. The findings have been reported in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.

Professor Needle added: “This can and may already be having an impact on the population of wild mesocarnivores in New Hampshire and New England.

“These animals are an integral part of the varied ecosystems of wild New Hampshire and New England, filling important niches in predator-prey relationships and pest control. Any decrease in wildlife populations is a loss to the rich wild diversity.”

Image © California Department of Water Resources/Wikimedia Commons

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.