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Epidemiology of squirrelpox virus in grey squirrels in the UK

Lookup NU author(s): Cordula Bruemmer, Professor Stephen Rushton, Dr Peter Lurz


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The dramatic decline of the native red squirrel in the UK has been attributed to both direct and disease-mediated competition with the grey squirrel where the competitor acts as a reservoir host of squirrelpox virus (SQPV). SQPV is threatening red squirrel conservation efforts, yet little is known about its epidemiology. We analysed seroprevalence of antibody against SQPV in grey squirrels from northern England and the Scottish Borders in relation to season, weather, sex, and body weight using Generalized Linear Models in conjunction with Structural Equation Modelling. Results indicated a heterogeneous prevalence pattern which is male-biased, increases with weight and varies seasonally. Seroprevalence rose during the autumn and peaked in spring. Weather parameters had an indirect effect on SQPV antibody status. Our findings point towards a direct disease transmission route, which includes environmental contamination. Red squirrel conservation management options should therefore seek to minimize squirrel contact points.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bruemmer CM, Rushton SP, Gurnell J, Lurz PWW, Nettleton P, Sainsbury AW, Duff JP, Gilray J, McInnes CJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Epidemiology and Infection

Year: 2010

Volume: 138

Issue: 7

Pages: 941-950

Print publication date: 23/04/2010

ISSN (print): 0950-2688

ISSN (electronic): 1469-4409

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0950268810000816


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