Wicklow People

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Second case of Squirrel pox virus


A SECOND case of squirrel pox virus have been founded in Co Wicklow. It is also the second case discovered in the State. The latest red squirrel with the squirrel pox virus was found in Kilmacanogue, on the lower slopes of the Sugar Loaf.

The virus is similar to myxomatosis and is carried by grey squirrels, who appear to be immune to its affects. However, it now appears they are passing it on to the native Irish red squirrel, pictured right, whose numbers are already considered dangerously low.

This is the second confirmed record of the virus in the Republic. Just before Christmas another dead red squirrel discovered in Hollywood, West Wicklow, was also found to have had the virus.

The virus is generally fatal to the red squirrel and symptoms include swollen and runny eyes, similar to the symptoms rabbits with myxomatosis suffer from. An infected squirrel dies within days.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has asked members of the public to get in touch if they see any squirrels appearing to suffer from the pox symptoms.

This is the first outbreak of the disease in the Republic, but the virus was confirmed last year in Northern Ireland. It has also led to a considerable decline in red squirrel numbers in England.

The NPWS asked for records of diseased or dead red squirrels, with details of location and a photo if possible, to be sent to them by email at natureconservation@environ.ie.