The cause of a new disease amongst fur animals is to be investigated in a co-project between farmers of fur animals, the University of Helsinki and authorities
The Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association (STKL), the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Helsinki University (HYELTDK) and Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira are starting a co-project for determining the causes of an eye and skin inflammation in fur animals, which is possibly contagious between animals. The results of the project will be used for the control and eradication of the disease and when planning the care of the animals. The project starts in November 2010 and continues until the end of 2011.
During the last few years an increasing number of fur animals in Finland have suffered from a new eye and skin problem. The cause of the disease has not been determined despite the research that has been carried out to date. The cause is suspected to be a contagious disease as there are indications that the disease would have spread between farms along with the arrival of new animals. A similar disease has also been found in other fur producing countries, such as Canada and apparently also in Denmark.
Foxes have suffered from eye infections especially in November-December while mink and finnraccoons have suffered from a remarkable number of paw and skin infections during the same time. The symptoms develop quickly in the animals within a couple of days and treatment with antibiotics does not appear to be very effective. Young animals appear to be more susceptible to the disease. Towards spring morbidity decreases and there are no new cases between March and autumn. Breeding animals fall ill between December and February. The symptoms of the disease appear to be milder after Christmas.
The intention of the project is to collect a comprehensive number of samples from carefully selected farms. The samples are to be analysed at Evira’s premises in Seinäjoki and further analyses are to be carried out at Evira’s virology unit, at HYELTDK and the laboratories it collaborates with. The current spread of the disease, factors that predispose the animals to the disease and the measures taken so far to manage the disease are to be examined in an extensive survey aimed at the farmers of fur animals.
For additional information:
Heli Kallio, Evira, heli.kallio evira.fi
Tuula Dahlman, STKL, tuula.dahlman stkl-fpf.fi
Heidi Rosengren, HYELTDK, heidi.rosengren helsinki.fi