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Sniffer dogs help combat threat of ASF
A sniffer dog at work in Heathrow Airport

Border controls increased to find illegal meat

On 3 October, biosecurity Minister, Lord Gardiner and the UK chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, visited Heathrow Airport to find out more about the work of the Border Force and its highly trained sniffer dogs in ensuring the UK remains free of African swine fever (ASF).
 
Officials will enforce controls at the border by using sniffer dogs and searching freight, passengers and luggage. They will seize and destroy illegally imported meat products. This is because ASF is highly contagious and the virus can survive in pork meat products, even if cooked or frozen.  
 
The exercise that Lord Gardiner and the CVO witnessed was focused on passenger arrivals directly from SE Asian countries where African swine fever is prevalent. The disease, which poses no threat to human health but is fatal for pigs, has already spread widely across Asia – including China and Vietnam – and parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Cases have also been reported throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
ASF has led to the deaths of over 800,000 pigs and wild boar in Europe and an estimated four million pigs in Asia, causing global pork prices to rise. If the disease were to be found in this country, it could have a devastating impact on the UK’s commercial pig stock of five million pigs, as well as the trade of our pork products.
 
Christine Middlemiss, said:  “This morning I witnessed first-hand Border Force’s great work to ensure the UK remains ASF free. However, we all have a role to play and it is crucial that anyone travelling from affected regions doesn’t bring pork meat products into the UK.”
 
In July, Defra launched a new campaign, working closely with the Devolved Administrations, at the UK’s border to help keep the disease out of the country; and universities have been asked to contact international students about not bringing in meat products when they come to the UK to study.

The main ways that the disease can be spread are:

  • tourists or travellers bringing contaminated pork products with them from infected areas. All travellers are strongly advised to avoid bringing any pork products – including preserved meats, ham or pork sandwiches – back to the UK
  • pig keepers and members of the public feeding catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products to their animals. It is illegal to do so
  • travellers returning from ASF-affected areas coming into contact with domestic pigs, commercial holdings or smallholdings; because the disease can spread via contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment
  • contaminated vehicles and equipment being taken onto commercial pig premises or workers wearing contaminated clothing or boots when entering pig premises.

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.