New study on squirrelpox virus indicates transmission routes

A study recently published in PLOS ONE (also see Publications Page) by a team of leading researchers led by Quercus, the biodiversity and conservation research centre at Queen’s University, Belfast, indicates that the virus could be spread from grey squirrel to grey squirrel or grey squirrel to red squirrel in various ways. The virus, which is invariably fatal to red squirrels but benign to grey squirrels, may be passed in urine, faeces or by ectoparasites such as fleas, mites and ticks. Moreover, the scientists found that the virus can survive outside the body, especially in warm, dry conditions in spring and summer. At the present time, keeping the two species apart to reduce encounter rates is the only real way of slowing or preventing the spread of the disease.

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