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Wildlife
SQPV antibody detection in juvenile squirrels
  1. David J. Everest1,
  2. Akbar Dastjerdi1,
  3. David Cowen2,
  4. Matthew Gomm2,
  5. Craig M. Shuttleworth3,
  6. Colin J. McInnes4,
  7. David Deane4,
  8. Lesley Coulter4,
  9. Aileen Mill5,
  10. Steven P. Rushton5,
  11. Nicholas L. Jackson6 and
  12. Peter Litherland6
  1. 1APHA-Weybridge, Woodham Lane, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, e-mail: david.everest@apha.gsi.gov.uk
  2. 2National Wildlife Centre, APHA-York, Sand Hutton, York, North Yorkshire YO41 1LZ
  3. 3Red Squirrels Trust Wales, Plas Newydd Country House, Llanfairpwll, Angelsey LL61 6DQ
  4. 4Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ
  5. 5School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU
  6. 6National Zoological Society of Wales, Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5UY

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WHILE surveys of wild red (Sciurus vulgaris) and grey (Sciurus carolinensis) squirrels have revealed squirrelpox virus (SQPV) infections in both species (Atkin and others 2010), to date it has been unclear whether maternal transfer of SQPV to juveniles takes place. The observed presence of SQPV antibody in grey squirrel juveniles before leaving the nest and in young red squirrels after leaving the nest could, however, reflect maternal antibody transmission rather than direct disease exposure. We describe what we believe to be the first documented report of maternal transfer of SQPV antibody in wild grey and captive red squirrel juveniles.

In the summer and autumn of 2014, a study was undertaken to investigate SQPV presence in grey squirrels that were culled by cranial dispatch from several woodland locations across a large area of northern Gwynedd, adjacent to the Menai Straits. In addition to carcases obtained from trap-based control operations, juvenile grey squirrels still in the nest were taken from nest boxes erected within a mixed deciduous woodland in …

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