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Mortalities, amyloidosis and other diseases in free-living red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) on Jersey, Channel Islands

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Aileen Mill



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© British Veterinary Association (unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2018. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted. Between 2007 and 2014, 337 free-living red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) on Jersey, Channel Islands, were examined post mortem as part of a mortality and disease surveillance scheme. Road traffic accidents (RTAs) were attributable for 50.7 per cent (171/337) of the casualties, 34.4 per cent (116/337) succumbed to diseases including fatal exudative dermatitis (FED), 7.1 per cent (24/337) to predation, 6.5 per cent (22/337) to other trauma and 1.2 per cent (4/337) to suspected poisoning. Cat predation accounted for 5 per cent (17/337) of mortalities. Pathologies were diverse and individual animals were often identified with more than one disease process. Squirrelpox virus (SQPV) particles were not detected in selected cases examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Amyloid was identified in 19.3 per cent (65/337) of squirrels, often in conjunction with inflammatory lesions like hepatic capillariasis. A consistent cause of amyloid accumulation was not identified, although there was a significant association of amyloidosis with hepatic capillariasis and FED. In addition to RTAs, amyloidosis and FED have been identified as important causes of squirrel morbidity and mortality on Jersey, while the underlying aetiology and predisposing factors for these two disease complexes are presently unclear. Disease, fragmented woodlands, an increasingly suburban habitat, along with various anthropogenic factors, may jeopardise the long-term viability of this island red squirrel population.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blackett TA, Simpson VR, Haugland S, Everest DJ, Muir CF, Smith KC, Mill AC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Veterinary Record

Year: 2018

Volume: 183

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 04/09/2018

Acceptance date: 06/07/2018

Date deposited: 19/11/2018

ISSN (print): 0042-4900

ISSN (electronic): 2042-7670

Publisher: British Veterinary Association


DOI: 10.1136/vr.104779


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