Return of a feline foe

Feline panleukopenia virus has re-emerged and claimed the lives of around 200 cats in three outbreaks in Australia.

The virus, rarely seen in cats, was responsible for a Melbourne outbreak in 2013, affecting around 60 cats. A second Melbourne outbreak, involving 60-70 cats, occurred in February this year with a third outbreak hitting cats in Mildura, Victoria, in April this year.

“In all outbreaks affected cats were mostly kittens from shelters with no history of feline panleukopenia (FPV) vaccination,” Sydney University investigator Vanessa Barrs said.

Unvaccinated kittens are most susceptible to FPV infection when maternal antibodies wane. In the Mildura outbreak, most affected kittens were in the six to 14 week age bracket although a one-year-old cat developed clinical signs. In the 2015 Melbourne outbreak some older kittens (five to six months) and adult cats with lapsed vaccines were affected. Continue reading Return of a feline foe

Vaccinations rise following lyssavirus deaths

There has been a sharp rise in the number of lyssavirus vaccinations following the death of an eight-year-old boy who succumbed to the virus.
Almost 300 people have sought the vaccination, up over 100 per cent on the same period last year.
Lincoln Flynn was scratched by a flying fox about two months before becoming ill.
Health experts have recommended that anyone who suspects they may have been scratched or bitten by a bat in the last few years to be vaccinated against the virus, which is similar to rabies. Continue reading Vaccinations rise following lyssavirus deaths

Avian pox on the rise in Britain

Photo by Luc Viatour

Alarm bells have been raised in Britain over the health of the country’s great tits, following a confirmed case of avian pox virus in a great tit population in Oxfordshire. Although the disease has previously been found in house sparrows and wood pigeons in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the spread to great tit populations is of great concern to researchers, since tits are among a number of wild bird species that are known to be less resilient to the disease.

The first confirmed case of AVP in a British great tit occurred in 2006, but the latest incident was found in a great tit population that has been continuously monitored by scientists from the University of Oxford, and the Zoological Society of London, since 1947.

When the presence of AVP was confirmed Professor Ben Sheldon from the University of Oxford’s Edward Grey Institute said researchers were: “using our detailed observations to try to understand how this new form of pox affects survival and reproductive success.”

Historically AVP is known to affect bird species worldwide, but it is more commonly found throughout temperate regions. Transmission occurs either through mosquito or other insect bites, or by direct contact with infected birds. Infection is also possible via contaminated communal food and water sources.

Symptoms include weakness, emaciation, soiled facial feathers, reduced egg reduction, and the growth of warty lesions on unfeathered areas of birds’ bodies, particularly the eyes and beaks.

AVP is a slow-developing disease that ultimately affects the birds’ ability to see and fly, causing them to gradually weaken until they become more susceptible to predators. Continue reading Avian pox on the rise in Britain

Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history

The Rinderpest virus

The Rinderpest virus. (Picture Rajnish Kaushik)

Scientists are confident that the acute viral disease rinderpest, that has devastated cattle and their keepers for thousands of years, has been eradicated world-wide.

The eradication is being heralded as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and is expected to save countless lives in some of the poorest countries of the world.

The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has suspended efforts to track the disease and expects to make an official announcement that the virus has been wiped off the face of the planet at the World Organisation for Animal Health meeting in May next year.

It will be only the second time in history that a devastating viral disease has been eradicated, the first being the human disease smallpox in 1980.

In its progress report on the global effort to eradicate rinderpest, released in October, the FAO said the dreaded virus was now believed to be extinct.

The last known outbreak occurred in 2001 in Kenya. In 2006 vaccinations for the virus stopped and field operations ceased earlier this year.

Australia has been free of the disease for more than eighty years after an outbreak involving 28 cattle herds near Fremantle in Western Australia was brought under control in 1923. Continue reading Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history