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Short Communication
Squirrel adenovirus type 1 in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in Germany
  1. M. Peters, BVSc, DrMedVet1,
  2. M. Z. Vidovszky, DVM, PhD2,
  3. B. Harrach, DVM, PhD, DSc2,
  4. S. Fischer, BVSc3,
  5. P. Wohlsein, BVSc, DrMedVet, DipECVP3 and
  6. J. Kilwinski, DrRerNat1
  1. Staatliches Veterinäruntersuchungsamt, Zur Taubeneiche 10-12, 59821 Arnsberg, Germany
  2. Veterinary Medical Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungária krt 21, 1143 Budapest, Hungary
  3. Department for Pathology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Bünteweg 17, 30559 Hannover, Germany
  1. E-mail for correspondence martin.peters{at}svua-arnsberg.nrw.de

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ENTERIC adenovirus (AdV) infection of red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) suffering from diarrhoea was first seen in Great Britain, in the county of Norfolk (Sainsbury and others 2001). The squirrels had been translocated from Cumbria in north-west England. Subsequently, further cases have been documented in Cumbria (Duff and others 2007), on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales (Everest and others 2008), in Scotland (Everest and others 2010a) and in further areas of Great Britain (Everest and others 2010b). AdV particles were detected by electron microscopy in intestinal contents, from which an AdV was isolated on first passage in mouse L cells. A short fragment from the gene of the major capsid protein, the hexon, was amplified by PCR and sequenced. Phylogenetic calculations indicated that the isolated virus is different from the known AdVs and represents a novel virus species (Sainsbury and others 2001). The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses listed the squirrel adenovirus type 1 (SqAdV-1) as a preliminary, yet not approved species of mastadenoviruses (Benkö and others 2005).

This short communication reports the first description of an enteric AdV infection in red squirrels outside the UK, namely in Germany. The preliminary results indicate a very close relationship between the AdVs demonstrated in squirrels in Germany and in the UK.

Three seven-month-old red squirrel siblings (two females and one male kept privately; ie, not as part of a zoo or wildlife collection) were found dead unexpectedly in their enclosure. They had been bred on site and had never left their enclosure. Other animals had not been introduced into the group. The carcases were submitted for postmortem examination. The squirrels were in a good nutritional condition, weighing 180, 220 and 240 g. The main pathological findings included …

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