RPSCA staff praised for their handling of deadly seal virus
Staff at the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) have been praised for their dedication in dealing with sick seals suffering from a deadly virus. A national helpline was set up this summer as part of the government's £250,000 project to find out more about the virus.
The virus, called Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV), is affecting colonies up and down the East Coast of England and Scotland.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is working alongside the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly to fund a nine-month research project that is being led by the Institute of Zoology.
This is keeping a record of the locations of stranded seals and ensures that an adequate sample is taken for post-mortem.
Norfolk is one of the counties worst affected by the virus this autumn because of the size of the seal colonies that reside along its coast. More than 2,500 dead seals have been reported in the UK to the dedicated helpline set up by Defra.
The last PDV epidemic to affect the UK, which took place in 1988, killed about 18,000 common seals and about 400 grey seals throughout Europe.
Speaking during a visit to the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Hospital, Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said:
"The RSPCA is doing a wonderful job in dealing with this serious seal disease and Defra is grateful to all the voluntary bodies for cooperating so fully with this sad outbreak. I am visiting to acknowledge publicly the tremendous commitment from all concerned."