Mr Fox and his not so friendly diseases

8 Aug

Hello again!

I thought I would continue the theme of talking about a different animal each week and about the current issues, particularly health issues, that are emerging.  I hope you are not eating your breakfast or lunch whilst reading this as some of what I am about to say is not very pretty.

‘Today’s Technician’ magazine published by the National Pest Technicians Association published a very interesting report last month about the diseases that foxes carry that may have lethal consequences for working dogs and in extreme cases, humans too.  Because of the explosion across Europe of the red fox population, a disease carried by foxes that is capable of killing hundreds of people a year may be brought to Britain.  Why?  It’s a direct result of the EU lifting restrictions on animal movements.

I really don’t want to sound like a scaremonger but at conference recently, Vic Simpson of the Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre in Truro outlined the threat posed by Alveolar echinococcosis (AE).  It’s caused by infection with a small tapeworm found in foxes and dogs.  They slowly multiply, typically growing for 10 – 15 years before diagnosis.  By this time, the liver is so badly and extensively damaged that more than 90% of patients die.  I must stress at this point, that this is very very rare in humans, but it can be transmitted to humans through water contamination and food ingestion OR by handling dogs or foxes that have picked up eggs in their fur.

The current situation in the UK is that so far, no disease has been reported and any dogs taken to Europe must be treated with a wormer 48 hours prior to their return.  The EU is pressing the UK from imposing any controls on animal movement and worming requirement Derogation expires in December 2011 which means, anyone coming into the UK from the EU can bring their dog, cat, etc…into the country untreated.

As with any parasite, once it is here, it is here forever.  Clearly, we will not be seeing any cases for at least 15 years but the question is, should we have a fox disease surveillance programme in place now in readiness, particularly with the rapid expansion of the fox population.  This is a question that only the government perhaps can answer.

 

 

With thanks to Today’s Technician (July addition) and Vic Simpson of the Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre in Truro.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: