Scientists have recently played down recent media reports on a potential disease outbreak of myxomatosis among our brown hare population.

The NGO has been following extensive recent media reports on a potential disease outbreak of myxomatosis among our brown hare population. But scientists and vets have pointed to a lack of evidence that hares are dying in unusually high numbers or that the cause is myxomatosis

The current view is that even if brown hares could contract myxomatosis, it was unlikely to spread widely in hares. Another reported suggestion is that hares are dying of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Recently a variant of RHD – RHD2 – has emerged and several definite cases have been reported in brown hares in continental Europe.  There is clearly a risk but at the moment we do not know how large a risk this is.

Experts at the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have said that there is no evidence of an unusual and statistically significant or rapid increase in mortality in the brown hare population at this time. APHA have already examined one of the brown hare carcases and said that it “showed no sign of myxomatosis nor RHD2.”

Although there is no scientific proof of any outbreak in the hare population at this time, the NGO is urging its members to be vigilant and if they have any concerns or are finding any dead hares on their ground to contact one of APHA’s Veterinary Investigation Centres.  To find your nearest centre, please visit:  http://apha.defra.gov.uk/vet-gateway/surveillance/diagnostic/national-network.htm

 

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Notes to editors:

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NG)) represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. The NGO defends and promotes gamekeeping and gamekeepers and works to ensure high standards throughout the profession. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that keepering was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.  www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

 

 

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