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Leprosy in red squirrels in Scotland
  1. Anna Meredith1,
  2. Jorge Del Pozo1,
  3. Sionagh Smith1,
  4. Elspeth Milne1,
  5. Karen Stevenson2 and
  6. Joyce McLuckie 2
  1. 1Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian, Edinburgh EH25 9RG
  2. 2Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH26 0PZ
  1. e-mail: anna.meredith{at}

Statistics from

RED squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) populations in the UK are in dramatic decline and Scotland has an estimated 120,000 remaining, about 75 per cent of the UK population. Since 2006, six cases of a distinctive novel presentation of dermatitis in red squirrels from various locations throughout Scotland have been detected at postmortem examination, as part of a scanning surveillance scheme operated by the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R[D]SVS), University of Edinburgh.

Grossly, all these squirrels presented with bilateral areas of variable alopecia and cutaneous swelling of the snout area, lips, eyelids, pinnae and the distal aspect of all limbs (Fig 1). Histological examination has been carried out in three cases. There was granulomatous dermatitis, with epithelioid macrophages forming sheets (lepromatoid pattern), and Ziehl-Neelsen staining revealed large …

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