Adenovirus: an emerging factor in red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris conservation

Everest, David J.; Shuttleworth, Craig M.; Stidworthy, Mark F.; Grierson, Sylvia S.; Duff, J. Paul; Kenward, Robert E.. 2014 Adenovirus: an emerging factor in red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris conservation. Mammal Review, 44 (3-4). 225-233.

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1. Adenovirus is an emerging threat to red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris conservation, but confirming clinically significant adenovirus infections in red squirrels is challenging. Rapid intestinal autolysis after death in wild animals frequently obscures pathology characteristic of the disease in animals found dead. 2. We review the available literature to determine current understanding of both subclinical and clinically significant adenovirus infections in free-living wild and captive red squirrel populations. 3. Benefits of scientific testing for adenovirus incorporating both transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technologies are compared and contrasted. We favour viral particle detection using TEM in animals exhibiting enteropathy at post-mortem and the use of PCR to detect subclinical cases where no enteric abnormalities are observed. 4. Adenoviral infections associated with re-introduction studies are evaluated by examination of sporadic cases in wild populations and of data from captive collections used to service such studies. 5. The paucity of data available on adenovirus infection in grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis populations is documented, and we highlight that although subclinical virus presence is recorded in several locations in Great Britain and in Italy, no clinically significant disease cases have been detected in the species thus far. 6. Current speculation about potential interspecific infection between sciurids and other woodland rodents such as wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus is examined. Where subclinical adenovirus presence has been detected in sympatric populations using the same point food sources, husbandry methods may be used to diminish the potential for cross-infection. 7. Our findings highlight the importance of controlling disease in red squirrel populations by using clearly defined scientific methods. In addition, we propose hypothetical conservation benefits of restricting contact rates between red squirrels and sympatric grey squirrels and of limiting competition from other woodland rodent species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0305-1838
Additional Keywords: adenovirus infection, conservation, disease, grey squirrel, red squirrel
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Dec 2014 11:29 +0 (UTC)

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