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Blackbirds under threat from mosquito-borne virus
Usutu virus was first detected in the UK in 2020.
Researchers ask public to help monitor UK blackbird numbers.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is asking the public to take part in a new survey to help it monitor the impact that Usutu virus is having on UK blackbirds.

The mosquito-borne virus was first detected in the UK in London in 2020. Since then, blackbird numbers, which were already in decline, have decreased much more strongly in the Greater London Area. There is also evidence of a wider decline in the south of England.

The virus’ spread has been linked to climate change. It was first identified in South Africa and has been present in mainland Europe for three decades. It is now considered to be endemic in South East England.

The BTO researchers hope that the Blackbirds In Gardens survey will help them to form a clearer picture of the possible spread and impact of the virus on blackbirds in a wide range of different locations, both urban and rural.

Usutu virus can be transmitted to humans. However, the bird-biting mosquitoes which carry it rarely bite humans and infections in people are mainly asymptomatic.

The survey is part of Vector-Borne RADAR, a government-funded project being run in partnership with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the UK Health Security Agency, and the Zoological Society of London.

Arran Folly, a senior scientist at APHA and Vector-Borne RADAR project lead, said: “Our Vector-Borne RADAR project is helping to develop a better picture of emerging mosquito-borne viruses and the findings from BTO’s Blackbirds In Gardens survey will be invaluable in building a better understanding of how the virus could be impacting our blackbird populations.

“I would urge any garden owners to take part and help us keep track of this virus.”
Those wishing to take part in the survey can sign up here.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.