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Epidemiological and postmortem findings in 262 red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in Scotland, 2005 to 2009
  1. J. P. LaRose, BSc, BVM&S, MRCVS1,
  2. A. L. Meredith, MA, VetMB, CertLAS, DZooMed, MRCVS1,
  3. D. J. Everest2,
  4. C. Fiegna, DVM3,
  5. C. J. McInnes, BSc, PhD3,
  6. D. J. Shaw, BSc, PhD1 and
  7. E. M. Milne, BVM&S, PhD, DipECVCP, DipRCPath, FRCVS1
  1. 1Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG
  2. 2Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  3. 3Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ
  1. Correspondence to Professor Milne, e-mail: elspeth.milne{at}


Postmortem and virological examinations for squirrelpox virus (SQPV) were carried out on 262 red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) found dead or moribund in Scotland between September 2005 and July 2009, to determine the likely causes of death and highlight factors that might be threats to the red squirrel population. Most of the squirrels were submitted from Dumfries and Galloway, and 71 per cent of them were adults. Road traffic accidents, squirrelpox, trauma or starvation were responsible for death in a large proportion (73 per cent) of the squirrels. Thin or emaciated body condition was associated with deaths resulting from pneumonia SQPV infection and starvation, and with the presence of external parasites. There were differences between age groups with regard to the cause of death; a large proportion of juveniles died of starvation, whereas a large proportion of subadults and adults died in road traffic accidents. SQPV infection was associated with the presence of external parasites, but was not associated with the sex of the animals.

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