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Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease



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with hounds
and the spread
of disease
Professor Stephen Harris BSc PhD DSc
Dr Jo Dorning BSc PhD
A report commissioned by the League
Against Cruel Sports
December 2017
Hunting with hounds and
the spread of disease
Professor Stephen Harris
Dr Jo Dorning
A report commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports
December 2017
The views and opinions of the authors do not necessarily reect those
of the League Against Cruel Sports
All photographs courtesy of the League Against Cruel Sports
Hunting with hounds and
the spread of disease
Professor Stephen Harris
Dr Jo Dorning
A report commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports
December 2017
The views and opinions of the authors do not necessarily reect those
of the League Against Cruel Sports
Executive summary
1. Animal diseases have taken a heavy toll on the
agricultural economy, and some also pose a health
risk to humans. The term biosecurity came to the
forefront of animal health during the 2001 foot-
and-mouth disease epidemic, and is now both
a cornerstone of disease control and a legal
2. Basic biosecurity advice for all types of livestock
farming highlight: the risks of moving personnel,
equipment and vehicles between farms, and the
importance of minimising such movements; the
need to thoroughly disinfect people, equipment
and vehicles before they arrive at a farm and before
they move onto another farm; the importance
of keeping visiting vehicles away from livestock
and the need to provide hard standing so that
all mud and faeces adhering to the vehicle (and
equipment) can be cleaned off, preferably with
a power hose, before the vehicle enters the farm
and before it leaves; and the importance of not
transferring soil, slurry and faecal material to other
farms on the wheels of vehicles or on the feet
of animals. Hunts contravene all of these basic
biosecurity measures during a day’s hunting, with
large numbers of horses, dogs, people and vehicles
moving between farms and across farmland without
implementing any of the recommended biosecurity
3. Fouling by dogs is a particular health issue for many
farmers, but the focus on dog fouling of agricultural
land has been on companion animals. A survey in
Scotland found that almost 40% of farmers had
livestock that had contracted disease as a result of
dog fouling on their grazing land. Dog owners are
requested, but not required, to clear up their dog’s
faeces in rural areas. They are also requested to
ensure that: their dogs are wormed regularly; to
keep their dogs out of elds with vegetable and
soft fruit crops; not to move from one farm to
another; to keep their dogs on a lead near livestock,
especially young livestock; to keep to footpaths
to minimise the risks of disease transmission; and
not to allow their dogs to drink from livestock water
troughs or to foul water supplies that may be used
to supply drinking water. Unlike pet dogs, packs
of hounds are out of sight of, and often a long way
from, the huntsman, when hunting, so it is impossible
to collect their faeces, to keep them away from
livestock and vegetable crops, or to prevent them
drinking from water troughs. Fouling of water
supplies is a particular concern for minkhounds,
which routinely hunt in streams, rivers and lakes.
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
4. The risks of disease transmission by hunts are
heightened by sporting visits, whereby hunts take
horses, hounds, vehicles and followers to hunt in
different parts of the country, often long distances
from their home base. Many of these sporting visits
are made when the local pack of hounds is ill and
unable to operate. Kennel cough is often the cause,
but more signicant diseases can also be involved.
Hunts were making sporting visits to the Kimblewick
Hunt’s country when their hounds were quarantined
due to the most extensive outbreak of bovine
tuberculosis ever recorded in dogs in Britain.
5. Hounds are displayed at several hundred events
a year where they have direct and indirect contact
with other packs of hounds, livestock, and members
of the public. While strict biosecurity rules apply
to livestock displayed at shows, and farmers are
advised to quarantine stock returning from a show,
no such regulations apply to packs of hounds.
While there are benets of human/animal contacts
at such shows, there are signicant risks of disease
transmission, especially to children because of their
immature immune systems and poor standards of
hygiene. There are also signicant risks of disease
transmission to other animals, as shown by the
spread of kennel cough between packs of hounds
in Britain and leishmaniosis between packs of
foxhounds in North America.
6. Hounds require a high-energy diet, especially
during the hunting season. Prior to the Second
World War, most hunts fed their hounds on a
porridge pudding with cooked meat added,
but war-time restrictions on using oats to feed
animals and rising fuel and labour costs meant
that most hunts now rely on raw esh, even
though the disease risks of feeding raw esh to
hounds have been recognised by hunts for two
centuries. A number of veterinary organisations
have issued advice urging people not to feed raw
meat to dogs because of the health risks to the
dogs and the risks of disease transmission to
humans. Raw meat can carry a number of
life-threatening pathogens for humans, and
feeding raw meat diets to working and other
dogs in contact with livestock perpetuates a
number of costly diseases in livestock populations.
7. For the last fty years feeding raw meat and offal
from fallen stock has been portrayed as a service
to farmers. The Meat (Sterilization) Regulations
1969 and subsequent legislation were designed
to restrict the use of meat not t for human
consumption. However, hunt kennels were viewed
as a service rather than a trade and so were
unlicensed and could continue to obtain fallen stock
or casualty animals from farmers. At the time this
was described as a loophole in the regulations.
Collecting fallen stock is still portrayed by hunts
as a service to farmers. While it is impossible to
quantify the disease risks, and associated nancial
costs to the agricultural sector, of feeding fallen
stock to hounds, collecting fallen stock by hunts
is likely to be a nancial burden to farmers rather
than a service.
8. The number of hunts that collect fallen stock is
unclear, but most hunts are registered with Defra as
approved animal by-product plants. The number of
fallen stock collected by hunts and fed to hounds as
raw esh is likely to be several hundred-thousand:
some hunts obtain most of the fallen stock in their
area. Fallen stock is either collected by hunts or
delivered by local farmers: the charges for delivering
fallen stock to hunt kennels are lower than asking
for the hunt to make the collection. EU Regulations
specify how fallen stock must be collected and
transported to minimise the risk of disease transfer:
it is unclear how well these rules are observed by
hunt staff, or the guidance given to hunts on how
to minimise the risks of disease transmission. Nor
is it clear whether farmers who deliver their own
fallen stock to kennels observe the biosecurity rules.
A number of studies have identied fallen stock
collectors as the farm visitors least likely to follow
basic biosecurity rules, even though they pose a
particularly high risk of disease transmission. Hunt
staff and vehicles also pose a particular disease risk
because they often enter livestock areas when they
are required to slaughter animals.
9. Causes of death for fallen stock are not routinely
recorded, but one exploratory study identied
hundreds of different causes of death, including a
wide range of diseases that can be transmitted to
both animals and humans. It is impossible to know
the cause of death of fallen stock without a routine
post mortem of each animal. Twenty years ago
the EU’s Scientic Steering Committee said that,
because it was impossible to determine the cause
of death for each animal, fallen stock should not be
fed to hounds. Whether or not individual carcases
are from animals that have died of disease, the high
proportion of fallen stock that are infected with a
range of pathogens means that it is inevitable that
hounds are regularly fed with livestock that has died
from a disease that could infect animals and/or
humans. Hunts routinely contravene the regulations
that forbid using fallen stock that has died of
disease as animal feed.
10. While a large number of hounds (probably over
4000) are culled from packs each year, there is
remarkably little information on the health of hunting
hounds in Britain. Most are culled when they are
no longer able to hunt with the pack, usually
when between half and two-thirds of their normal
life expectancy, and this is likely to be due to an
underlying health issue. Hounds that are culled are
rarely examined post mortem, thereby allowing
infectious diseases to go unnoticed and either
spread within the pack and/or to livestock. However,
the limited data available suggest that several
hundred of the hounds culled each year are likely
to have been infected with a variety of diseases,
many of which pose a risk to livestock and/or
11. Some of the best data on the role of hounds in
spreading livestock diseases are for tapeworms.
The change to feeding raw horse esh and offal
to hounds after the Second World War led to a
dramatic increase in both the prevalence and
distribution of equine hydatidosis. Hounds, and
other working dogs, are also important in spreading
ovine hydatidosis and other cestodes to sheep.
A number of studies have shown the link between
feeding raw meat and offal from fallen stock, and
poor veterinary care, and the level of infestation in
packs of hounds. Hounds are particularly important
in spreading these parasites because of the number
of hounds in each pack. These spread infective
ova from tapeworms onto grazing land over wide
areas of the countryside. There is also a high risk
of contamination in elds and on the verges of
roads where hounds are exercised regularly. In
addition, the hounds are often housed, exercised
and transported in close proximity to livestock,
especially horses, thereby facilitating transmission
of a variety of diseases.
12. Despite the lack of quantied data, a wide range of
diseases, including zoonoses and notiable diseases,
have been recorded in packs of hounds in the UK
and elsewhere in the world. These data show that
there are a number of common risk factors associated
with hunting hounds becoming infected with, and
spreading, livestock and other diseases. These
include: feeding raw meat and offal; poor standards
of kennel hygiene; lack of adequate veterinary care;
lack of routine monitoring of disease; close contact
with livestock; and interacting with other packs of
hounds. Allowing hounds to break up the carcases
of dead foxes poses a particular risk that hounds
will become infected with a range of parasites and
13. While the risks of disease transmission by hounds
could be reduced by effective management and
veterinary programmes, there is a lack of transparency
on the veterinary care of British hounds, and hounds
tend to be culled from the pack rather than receive
veterinary treatment. This makes it difcult to
assess whether the health treatment programmes
implemented by UK packs of hounds are adequate.
However, the information that has been published
suggests that vaccination and worming programmes
are inadequate to limit the spread of disease, and it
would appear that the Code of practice issued for
hunt kennels by the Council of Hunting Associations
is widely ignored. Veterinary treatment of hounds
appears to be a major drain on the nances of at
least some hunts, and the health care of hounds is
focussed on infections such as kennel cough, which
curtail hunting, rather than diseases that pose a
signicant risk to livestock and/or humans.
14. While hunting with hounds maintains and/or spreads
a number of livestock parasites and pathogens that
have a major economic impact on British farmers,
and pose a signicant health risk to humans, it is
impossible to quantify the exact costs that are
involved. For some diseases, such as equine
hydatidosis, feeding hounds on raw meat and offal
after the Second World War was the major factor
leading to a dramatic increase in both the prevalence
and distribution of the disease. For diseases such
as ovine hydatidosis and sheep tapeworms that
cause a major economic loss to farmers, hunts
make a signicant contribution to maintaining and
spreading the infections. For other diseases, it is
harder to identify the exact contribution made by
hunts to the overall spread of infection. However,
in view of the economic losses farmers incur due to
livestock diseases, hunting with hounds is likely to
impose a substantial nancial burden on livestock
15. In addition to the existing health risks, The Pet Travel
Scheme has increased the risk that dogs will introduce
novel diseases to Britain. Hunts pose a particular
risk of introducing some of these diseases following
sporting visits to European countries where zoonoses
of concern are endemic. Should leishmaniosis be
introduced to Britain and/or Ireland, it is likely the
foxhounds will maintain and spread the disease, as
occurred in North America. The high prevalence
levels of leishmaniosis in foxes in parts of Europe
highlights the risks of allowing hounds to break up
the bodies of foxes. Should alveolar echinococcus
(a signicant public health concern in Europe) be
introduced to Britain, foxes are the main host of
the parasite (Echinococcus multilocularis) and hunts
are likely to exacerbate the spread of the disease
by increasing dispersal movements of juvenile foxes,
and by spreading eggs while hunting. There are a
number of other zoonoses that could be introduced
to Britain that may be spread by hunts feeding
infected fox carcases to their hounds.
16. Thus all aspects of hunting with hounds pose a
signicant risk of disease transmission to both
livestock and humans.
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Introduction 05
Biosecurity 05
Farm-level biosecurity measures 06
General biosecurity .......................................... 06
Cattle farms ...................................................... 07
Sheep farms ...................................................... 08
Pig units ............................................................ 08
The role of faeces in spreading ........................ 08
livestock diseases
Fouling by dogs 09
Dogs in the countryside ....................................09
Legislation and advice on dog fouling ..............10
Biosecurity and hunting with hounds 11
Background .......................................................11
A day’s hunting .................................................. 12
Sporting visits ....................................................12
Biosecurity advice from the ..............................13
hunting organisations
Showing hounds at public events 14
Events attended by working hounds .................14
Biosecurity at animal gatherings .......................15
Spread of diseases at animal shows ..................15
Feeding hounds 16
Energy requirements of hounds ........................16
Changes in feeding practices ............................17
Feeding hounds on hunting days ......................17
Health risks of feeding raw meat to dogs 18
The risks to companion animals ........................18
The risks to working dogs..................................20
Collection of fallen stock by hunts 21
Changes in legislation .......................................21
Disposal of fallen stock ......................................22
Number of fallen stock collected .....................24
by hunts in the past
Number of fallen stock currently ......................25
collected by hunts
Transport of fallen stock ...................................26
The risks of using fallen stock as animal feed 27
Causes of death of fallen stock ........................27
Should hounds be fed on fallen stock? ............28
The main diseases spread by dogs to livestock 29
Companion animals ..........................................29
Hounds and hunting dogs ................................30
The role of hounds in spreading ......................35
equine hydatidosis
The role of hounds in spreading ovine .............36
hydatidosis and other tapeworms
Diseases in hounds elsewhere in the world .......36
Disease risks of feeding dead foxes .................40
to hounds
Health treatment of hounds 40
Basic principles .................................................40
Veterinary care of American foxhounds ............41
Vaccination programmes for British hounds ......42
Anthelmintic treatment of British hounds ..........42
Costs of veterinary care for hounds ..................43
The economic impact of livestock diseases 44
Cestodes in sheep ............................................44
Johne’s disease (paratuberculosis) ....................44
Toxoplasmosis ...................................................45
A few other examples ........................................45
Future risks 45
The risks of pet travel .......................................45
Zoonotic risks associated with packs of hounds ...46
Conclusions 48
References 49
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) asked us to
review the disease risks posed by packs of hounds, in
particular the risks to livestock and humans. There were
a number of issues to consider:-
Biosecurity measures recommended for, and/or
adopted by, British livestock farmers
The biosecurity measures adopted by hunts
when operating packs of hounds on farmland
and elsewhere in the countryside, and how
these conform to the biosecurity measures
recommended for livestock farmers
Fouling of farmland by dog faeces and the risks
these pose to both livestock and humans
The health risks associated with the collection
of fallen stock for feeding hounds
The potential health risks of using raw esh
and offal to feed hounds
The potential health risks associated with allowing
hounds to break up fox and hare carcases
Hygiene standards in hound kennels and the
veterinary treatment of hounds
The movements of hounds around the country
and their interactions with other packs of hounds,
livestock and humans
Parasites and diseases recorded in hounds and
other dogs that might be transmitted to livestock
and humans
Cases where packs of hounds have been associated
with disease in livestock and humans
The potential economic impact of hunts on livestock
farming in Britain
The potential for novel canine diseases and
zoonoses to be introduced to Britain
We identied relevant published papers, reports, books,
press articles, leaets, guidance documents and government
legislation using keyword searches in the Web of Science,
Google Scholar and Google, searching for different
combinations of the keywords in Box 1.
Box 1. Keywords used in the literature search
Animal disposal, bacteria, beef, biosecurity, bovine, Britain,
carcass, cattle, deadstock, disease, disposal, dog, dog faeces,
England, fallen (live) stock, farm, feeding raw meat, uke,
fox hunting, foxhound, foxhunt, horses, hound, hunting dog,
husbandry, infection, Ireland, kennels, Leishmania, leptospirosis,
livestock, meat, miles distance, Neospora, parasite, pigs, pork,
prion, red fox, risk, Salmonella, Scotland, spread, swine, tapeworm,
transit time, transmission, tuberculosis, vector, virus, Wales
We focused on literature relevant to livestock (excluding
poultry) in Great Britain, but have included literature on
diseases in other countries where there is a risk that they
might enter Britain in the future, and/or where information
from abroad was relevant to understanding the current
situation in Britain. We have also referred to more general
literature on companion, working and feral dogs where
it was relevant. Our search returned 415 peer-reviewed
scientic papers, including 375 papers about biosecurity
and disease, 35 about dog diet, metabolism and feeding
raw meat, and ve about hunting with dogs in general, 60
reports, 82 press articles and six webpages. These sources
were then used to identify other relevant publications,
which were accessed, read, and their relevance assessed.
Since there was considerable overlap in information
between sources (particularly between reports and
advice leaets), we have only cited selected publications.
All the websites referred to were accessed between
August and December 2017.
Animal disease has taken a heavy toll on the agricultural
economy, and the term biosecurity came to the forefront
of animal health during the 2001 foot-and-mouth
disease (FMD) epidemic (Brennan & Christley, 2012).
Biosecurity is now both a cornerstone of disease control
and a legal requirement (Sayers et al., 2013; Toma et
al., 2013). UK government policy on animal health has
placed farmers in the forefront of livestock disease
prevention and control, since they are best placed to
manage risks and have most to gain from disease control
(Defra, 2004; Scottish Executive, 2006; Toma et al.,
2013). However, collective action regarding biosecurity
among UK cattle and sheep farmers is rare (Heffernan
et al., 2008). In a survey of over 800 farmers by Farmers
Weekly, 82% admitted that their biosecurity was not up
to standard and was almost non-existent for 34% (Anon.,
2007). So biosecurity uptake and implementation on UK
livestock farms remains poor, despite strong evidence to
show the considerable net benets from investment in
biosecurity at the farm level (Anon., 2007; Gunn et al.,
2008; Toma et al., 2013).
The signicant resistance to the implementation of
farm-level biosecurity by farmers is in part because
governance of the food chain is complex: international
trade rules and European directives provide the
regulatory backdrop; national governments create
policies and the institutions to implement them; while
at a local level, public agencies, local authorities and
private companies are responsible for ensuring that
food is safe for human consumption on a day-to-day
basis (Enticott et al., 2011).
A key factor inuencing the attitudes and behaviour
of farmers is access to information on biosecurity and
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
animal health (Toma et al., 2013). While biosecurity
recommendations for cattle farmers from Defra
emphasize minimization of disease transmission
between premises via contaminated clothing, vehicles
and equipment, this may be of limited use to cattle
producers due to, among other issues, a lack of evidence
of efcacy (Brennan & Christley, 2012). The increased
incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on farms
restocked after the 2001 FMD epidemic, and an increase
in endemic diseases such as bovine viral diarrhoea,
infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and Johne’s disease
(paratuberculosis) may all reect poor biosecurity
practices on these farms (Holliman, 2003). The same
probably applies to the introduction and wide
distribution of bovine viral diarrhoea and infectious
bovine rhinotracheitis in Ireland, and the dramatic
increase in the levels of Johne’s disease, following an
increase in importation of livestock in the early 1990s
(Sayers, 2009).
While biosecurity is essential for controlling livestock
diseases, and is a legal requirement in the UK, biosecurity
measures on farms remain poor, in part because of a
lack of evidence of efcacy. Recent increases in, and
spread of, a number of livestock diseases are probably
due to poor biosecurity standards
Farm-level biosecurity
General biosecurity
Farm-level biosecurity is key to preventing the spread
of livestock diseases and protecting agricultural workers
and visitors (
disease-in-farm-animals). The Animal Plant and Health
Agency (APHA) and Defra’s general disease prevention
advice for livestock farmers is that they should not bring
infection onto their farm, or spread it around their farm,
on their clothes, footwear or hands. Specic advice
includes limiting and controlling farm visitors; having
pressure washers, brushes, hoses, water and disinfectant
available, and making sure visitors use them; keeping
farm access routes, parking areas, yards, feeding and
storage areas clean and tidy; banning vehicles, equipment
and clothing contaminated with animal excreta;
cleaning and then disinfecting any farm machinery/
equipment that is being shared with, or moved between,
neighbouring farms; cleaning contamination from
clothes, and cleaning and disinfecting boots, before
leaving animal areas; disposing of fallen stock properly;
keeping vehicles clean inside and out; and cleaning and
disinfecting vehicles and trailers (preferably with a power
hose), paying particular attention to areas where dirt
may be hidden such as wheel arches (
animals). It is particularly important to control and
reduce movements of animals, people and vehicles
to and from areas where livestock is kept (Brennan &
Christley, 2012).
Similar advice applies to the rest of Britain and Ireland.
In their biosecurity advice to smallholders, the Scottish
Government highlights that diseases and parasites can
spread between farm animals and pets. Their advice is to:-
ensure that your pets are regularly wormed; dogs
should be given anti-tapeworm treatment on a
regular basis
make sure that delivery and pick up points should be
as far away from stock areas as possible
locate the knackery collection point as near to the
farm entrance to avoid the collection vehicle driving
through your premises. Ideally, a sign should be
used to identify the area as a pick up point. The area
should be on hard standing so that it can be easily
cleansed and disinfected
biosecurity_for_smallholders.pdf). The advice for
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is
summarised in Boxes 2 and 3.
Dogs should be kept out of elds grazed by livestock
Box 2. Some of the biosecurity advice for Northern
Ireland (Anon., 2004)
Each farm should have a collection area for fallen animals,
capable of being cleansed and disinfected. Site as far away from
animals and as near the farm entrance as possible, so that contact
with the fallen animal collection vehicle is kept to a minimum.
Keep fallen animals covered, or if possible, in a sealed polythene
bag, or in a leak-proof covered bin or container. Cleanse and
disinfect the site, equipment or containers used, after removal
of the carcase
Thoroughly clean and disinfect all vehicles if they have had
contact with livestock from other premises
All vehicles, machinery and equipment must be cleaned and
disinfected before going onto and before leaving the farm
Avoid sharing trailers and other machinery. If hauliers or contractors
must be used, inspect for cleanliness and disinfection
Provide a washing area, brush, water and disinfectant or equivalent
facilities for all visitors/workers on arrival and departure
Visitors should advise the farmer if they have previously been on
other livestock premises that day
Box 3. Some key points in Animal Health Ireland’s
advice on biosecurity in the Republic of Ireland (http://
Keep troughs at a height that they can only be accessed by your
Water troughs should be regularly checked to ensure they are
Disinfect boots and change gloves when moving between animal
groups within the farm
Ensure disinfection of visitor’s clothing, boots, hands and equipment
(bio-exclusion) on arrival
Provide boots and clothing for veterinary practitioners and other
essential visitors to animals
Dogs should be kept out of elds of vegetable crops
Different measures apply to different types of livestock,
and some of the advice relevant to this review is listed
Cattle farms
The advice to cattle farmers (
make-your-farm-your-fortress) is that farm contrac-
tors, people who move between farms, other farmers,
livestock hauliers and deadstock collectors are high-risk
visitors. Methods of reducing risk include:-
providing high-risk personnel with protective clothing
and boots to use and leave on farm
ensuring that all contractor’s vehicles and trailers
accessing livestock areas should be clean and free
of visible manure on the outside of the vehicle,
wheels, mudguards and wheel arches
asking all high-risk visitors to arrive wearing clean
protective clothing and boots, and to ensure that
all their equipment is disinfected
ensuring that no equipment and machinery is shared
with other farms
providing wash station and disinfectant sprayers for
incoming vehicles and equipment
ensuring that a suitable length of time has passed
before stock are allowed to graze elds recently
spread with manure or slurry
assessing the disease risks posed by elds accessed
by dogs from public footpaths
Not providing boots for visitors was identied as a
signicant risk factor for diseases such as bovine
coronavirus and bovine respiratory syncitial virus
(Mee et al., 2012).
Since bTB is a particular problem for cattle farmers
areas), biosecurity advice to prevent the spread of bTB
ensuring that any farm machinery and equipment
shared with another farm is cleansed and disinfected
ensuring that any contractors used are scrupulous
about their own biosecurity
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Sheep farms
Most UK sheep farmers take no animal health precautions
either when introducing purchased animals to their
ocks or at farm boundaries. As a result, infectious
diseases are very common and cost the industry millions
of pounds through less efcient production (Hosie &
Clark, 2007). Key advice from the National Animal
Disease Information Service (
bulletins/biosecurity-on-sheep-farms.aspx) is that:-
vehicles used to collect fallen stock are a major
potential biosecurity hazard, and so delivery and
pick-up points should be at the margins of the farm
the delivery and pick-up point should have a concrete
surface to allow effective cleaning and disinfection
vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected with an
appropriate disinfectant before they are used for
moving stock
people who have had contact with other farms should
be prevented from entry
It is important that the rules for staff must also apply to
visitors (Hosie & Clark, 2007).
Pig units
To prevent the spread of disease (http://pork.ahdb.; https://pork.ahdb., pig farmers
keep vehicles outside the perimeter of the unit
only allow the unit’s own vehicles and machinery
to enter
clean and disinfect vehicles and machinery that has
been off site
control the areas accessible by vehicles, keeping
them as far away as possible from buildings and
dispose of fallen stock promptly and correctly:
provide safe, sealed storage for dead pigs, in line
with legal requirements
provide a fallen stock collection point away from
the pig housing with clear demarcation between
the farm access and the collection service access
keep the fallen stock collection point and associated
equipment clean and disinfect after every use
schedule transport of fallen stock to allow cleaning
and down-time following the visit before going to
another farm
ensure that vehicles attending the farm are adequately
and appropriately cleaned and disinfected rst
Key to ensuring effective biosecurity at pig units is
logging all movements of people and animals onto,
and off, the farm (Amass & Clark, 1999).
One of the common themes to the biosecurity advice
from farming and veterinary organisations is the need
for a much better understanding of how transmission
between farms is mediated by fomites i.e. objects or
materials such as faeces which are moved between
farms and are likely to carry infection. Farm visitors carry
pathogens on their clothes, equipment, or vehicles; this
can substantially enhance the spread of disease, both
locally and at larger spatial scales (Rossi et al., 2017a,b).
The role of faeces in spreading livestock
In England and Wales, 67.3 million tonnes of animal
manure are collected annually from farm buildings and
yards (53 million tonnes from cattle, 8.9 million tonnes
from pigs, 3.5 million tonnes from poultry, 1.9 million
tonnes from sheep). Approximately 45% is applied as
solid-based manures, and the remainder as liquid
slurries, mostly cattle and pig manures. Animal manures
are applied annually to around 16% of tilled land in
England and Wales (0.6 million hectares) and 48% of
grassland (2.3 million hectares). While manures are
applied throughout the year, about 50% of pig and
poultry manures are applied in the autumn (August-
October), mainly to cereal stubbles in predominantly
arable areas where most pig and poultry units are
located. About 40% of cattle slurry is applied in spring
(February-April) and 70% of straw-based cattle farmyard
manure is split fairly evenly between autumn and spring
dressings. So much of this is spread on elds when
hunts are most active. A further 45 million tonnes of
excreta are deposited directly in the eld by grazing
cattle, sheep and pigs (Chambers et al., 2000).
A key biosecurity issue is to avoid transferring animal
faeces, slurry and manures between farms. Over 30%
of the livestock wastes examined in one study contained
at least one microbial pathogen (Campylobacter,
Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli O157, Giardia,
pathogenic Listeria and Salmonella; Hutchinson et al.,
2004), and these zoonotic agents can survive for several
months in liquid livestock wastes (Hutchison et al., 2005).
Fomites have been implicated in the indirect transmission
of various cattle pathogens such as bovine viral diarrhoea,
FMD, Cryptosporidium and ovine herpesvirus 2, the
cause of malignant catarrhal fever (Mee et al., 2012).
A review of the indirect means of transmission of bTB
concluded that improperly managed manures could
constitute a potential infection risk for livestock,
particularly if pathogenic organisms such as Salmonella,
Clostridia, Escherichia coli and mycobacteria (the
bacteria that cause both Johne’s disease and bTB),
are present in animal excretions. Solid manure does
not present a risk if it has been well composted, whereas
slurry is extremely unlikely to reach high temperatures
during storage and so pathogenic bacteria are more
likely to survive for longer. There is a higher risk of bTB
for farmers if they use slurry contractors, highlighting
the risk of spreading the disease between farms, and
the need for vehicles and equipment to be thoroughly
cleansed and disinfected before moving between farms
(McCallan et al., 2014).
How long fomites remain infectious depends on the nature
of the agent and environmental factors such as temperature,
exposure to ultraviolet light and the efcacy of disinfection
procedures. Porcine parvovirus and porcine circovirus
type 2, for example, survive for several months under
common UK environmental conditions. Brachyspira
hyodysenteriae, the cause of swine dysentery, can
survive in moist faeces for up to 40 days (Pritchard et al.,
2005). In winter, Mycobacterium bovis (the organism that
causes bTB) may remain infective in faeces for about six
months, and environmental contamination is an important
indirect route of bTB transmission to cattle (McCallan
et al., 2014).
Animals in advanced stages of Johne’s disease can shed
vast quantities of bacteria in their faeces (http://www.
09.02.16.pdf) and, to control Johne’s disease and
salmonellosis, all grazing land should be left for at least
three weeks after spreading slurry, and all visitors must
have clean boots and disinfect before entering and
leaving a farm (
Of 55 suspected cases of botulism in cattle in England
and Wales in 2003-2005, 39 were due to poultry litter
spread on adjacent elds or farms; animals spread the
toxic material to elds where cattle had access (https://les/mnt/.../botulis
mincattlereport1206.pdf). Botulism is rarer in sheep but is
also associated with spreading poultry litter on grazing
land and subsequent spread of infection by other
animals (Advisory Committee on the Microbiological
Safety of Food, 2009).
Common biosecurity issues for all types of livestock
farming include: the risks of moving personnel,
equipment and vehicles between farms; the need
to minimise such movements; the importance of
restricting the number of farm visitors; and the need
to thoroughly disinfect people, equipment and
vehicles before they arrive and before they move
onto another farm. Fomites, especially faeces, pose
a high risk of transfer between farms. Vehicles
visiting farms should be kept away from livestock
and there should be some form of hard standing
so that all mud and faeces adhering to the
vehicle (and equipment) can be cleaned off,
preferably with a power hose. Particular attention
should be given to tyres, wheel arches, and other
areas where mud and/or faeces might adhere
Fouling by dogs
Dogs in the countryside
Fouling by dogs is a particular biosecurity issue for farmers.
In 2000-2001 there were an estimated 6.5 to 7.4 million
dogs in the UK, producing around 1,000 tonnes of faeces
each day (Campbell, 2007; Anon., 2015a). It is a common
perception that dog fouling is a more signicant issue
in urban than rural areas, even though Scottish National
Heritage estimated that during 2013/2014 almost 48%
of the visits to the outdoors in the UK included a dog,
equating to an estimated 188.9 million visits, and an
NFU Scotland survey found that almost 40% of farmers
had livestock that had contracted disease as a result of
dog fouling on grazing land (Anon., 2015a).
From 2004 in England, and 2005 in Wales, the Countryside
and Rights of Way Act 2000 gave people the right to
walk across most downland, heathland, moorland,
registered common land, and some land around the
England Coast Path, rather than just use specic paths
( One fth of Wales
is access land and it also includes areas of dedicated land
where owners, such as Natural Resources Wales, allow
free access (
managing-access/open-access-land/?lang=en). However,
to protect farm animals and ground-nesting birds, this
general right of access is conditional on dogs being kept
on a xed length lead, of no more than 2 metres long,
between 1 March to 31 July each year, and at any time
in the vicinity of livestock, although there is no legal
denition of the point when a dog is in the vicinity of
livestock; there may be other local or seasonal restrictions
land.pdf). Dogs must be under effective control at all
times in the coastal margins, and under some circumstances,
landowners can exclude people with dogs completely
from a eld used for lambing and from land managed
as a grouse moor (
The restrictions do not apply to public rights of way or
assistance dogs (
access-land/use-your-right-to-roam). Nor do they apply
if the landowner has given permission to access the
land, which presumably is usually the case with hunts.
A similar piece of legislation, the Land Reform (Scotland)
Act 2003, formalised the Scottish tradition of unhindered
access to open countryside, provided that care is taken
not to cause damage or interfere with activities including
farming and game stalking. A person has access rights
only if they are exercised responsibly, and conduct
excluded from access rights includes being on or
crossing land while responsible for a dog which is not
under proper control (
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Legislation and advice on dog fouling
Dog fouling is a devolved issue. In England and Wales,
the system of controlling dog fouling under public spaces
protection orders was introduced by the Anti-Social
Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; this replaced
the old system of dog control orders under the Clean
Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Defra,
2006). Dog owners have a legal duty to clean up after
their dogs when they defecate in a public place. Some
types of public land are exempt, including land used for
agriculture or woodland, rural common land, land that is
predominantly marshland, moor or heath, and highways
with a speed limit of 50 mph or more. The laws that
protect public rights of way (including public footpaths
and bridleways) do not impose any rules about how dog
owners should behave. In particular, there is no general
legal requirement for dogs to be on a lead or under
close control near livestock or in other sensitive situations
Table 1. Some of the advice from leading countryside
and dog-owning organisations on the disease risks
posed by dogs in the countryside and how to minimise
the risks
Organisation Advice on responsible dog ownership
Countryside Council for Wales -
You and your dog in the countryside warns that dog mess can cause
infections, so faeces should always be removed and disposed of
responsibly. Make sure your dog is wormed every three months, to
protect its own health and that of all other animals and your family.
Keep your dog on a lead near farm animals, to prevent injury to them
and your dog
The Kennel Club -
Dog owners should always pick up after their dogs wherever they are
in the wider countryside, except where there is advice to the contrary
e.g. the Forestry Commission Flick it off the path posters. Not removing
your dog’s faeces can cause problems for farmers and livestock
National Farmers’ Union -
Their pamphlet Enjoy the countryside responsibly with your dog warns
that dog faeces should be cleared up because they can spread disease
to farm animals and, for the health of your pet and farm animals, prevent
your dog from getting into water troughs and follow your vet’s advice on
National Farmers’ Union Scotland -
NFU Scotland urges people to clean up after their dogs when walking on
or near to agricultural land because parasites found in some dog faeces
can result in the abortions of cattle and death in sheep. Faeces from
infected dogs can contaminate pasture, animal feed, water and bedding,
and dog fouling undermines Scottish farmers’ efforts to produce quality
food and keep their livestock healthy. NFU Scotland asks dog owners to
be responsible for the health of livestock
Natural England and Defra -
The Countryside Code says always ensure your dog does not disturb
wildlife, farm animals or horses; that it does not stray off the path or area
where you have a right of access; because of the risk of disease, always
clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly; make sure
your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people
Scottish Natural Heritage -
Dog faeces can carry diseases that can affect humans, farm animals and
wildlife, so always clean up after your dog: infected dog waste left on
grazing land can result in the death of sheep and abortion in cattle; keep
your dog out of elds of vegetables or fruit, unless you are on a clear
path, because of the risks of diseases in dog faeces being transmitted to
people; do not take your dog into a eld with lambs, calves and other
young animals; keep your dog out of reservoirs and streams used to
supply public water. The highest risks are in elds with livestock and where
fruit and vegetables are growing, and in public open places such as along
paths, tracks, riverbanks and loch shores
In Scotland, the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 makes
it an offence for a person in charge of a dog in a public
open space not to clear up after their dog (http://
Summary/CDP-2017-0081). However, the Act does not
apply to agricultural land (http://www.environmentlaw.; since 73% of the land in Scotland
is agricultural, 5.6 million hectares are not covered by
the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003. A recent survey
showed that 65% of farmers felt that dog fouling was
a problem on their land (Anon., 2015a), and it is an
increasing problem for many farmers ( Dog faeces
can affect the quality and safety of their crops and
Neospora and Sarcocystis in faeces pose a risk to
livestock (pages 29 and 30), and there is no effective
way for farmers to control these diseases other than
by limiting contamination of pasture and culling affected
animals (
All major parasitic worms of dogs (excluding heartworm)
are transmitted by the passage of eggs or larvae in
faeces. So hygiene measures, especially cleaning up pet
faeces regularly, will reduce environmental contamination
with infective parasite stages and, alongside the use of
anthelmintics, will make a signicant contribution to the
control of these parasites (
Antiparasitic-resistance). However, since some dog
owners are reluctant to clear up after their dog even
when they are aware of the health and environmental
consequences (Lowe et al., 2014), stakeholders have
called for a full review of the Dog Fouling (Scotland)
Act 2003, including whether or not it should be
extended to cover agricultural land (Anon., 2015a).
In the absence of any legal powers of enforcement,
there is a great deal of advice from a diversity of
countryside and dog-owning organisations about the
disease risks posed by dogs in the countryside, and
what people should do to reduce these risks (Table 1).
All these organisations give comparable advice, and the
main themes relevant to this review are: remove your
dog’s faeces and dispose of them responsibly; worm
your dog regularly; keep dogs on a lead near livestock;
do not allow dogs to drink out of livestock water
troughs; keep your dog out of elds of vegetables
and soft fruit; keep your dog out of elds with young
livestock; and keep your dog away from bodies of
water, especially those that may be used to supply
drinking water. Much of this is not possible with a pack
of free-running dogs, even though packs of hounds
and working dogs fed on raw meat pose a far higher
risk of disease transmission than pet dogs (page 20).
In Britain, dog owners are not currently required to
clear up their pets’ faeces from agricultural and most
rural habitats, even though nearly half of outdoor visits
in the UK included a dog, and one survey found that
almost 40% of farmers had livestock that had suffered
disease as a result of dog fouling. Dog fouling also
poses a signicant risk to vegetable crops and water
courses that supply public water. There is pressure
to extend the dog fouling legislation to include
agricultural land and other rural habitats. However,
it is impossible to collect faeces deposited by free-
running packs of hounds, or restrict their access to elds
with livestock or vegetable crops, or to prevent them
drinking from water troughs
Biosecurity and hunting
with hounds
In 1981, for 60 of the 206 registered packs of foxhounds,
mean size of their hunting countries was 732 square
kilometres, with hunt countries largest in the midlands
and east, and smallest in the north of Britain. On average
there were 489 farmers in the area covered by a hunt,
and 21.5% of the hunt’s country was owned by hunting
participants. Of the farmers in the hunt’s country, 46
(9.4%) actually hunted, ve banned the hunt from their
land, and two discouraged the hunt from their land
(Macdonald & Johnson, 1996).
Biosecurity advice is to restrict access of vehicles to areas
where livestock graze, and ensure all vehicles are disinfected
on arrival and before departure
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Twenty years later, the Countryside Alliance reported
that 272 of the 318 packs of hounds in England and
Wales had a total registered hunting country of 346,000
square kilometres (133,600 square miles). Of this, 26%
was not hunted for reasons of safety (motorways, roads,
railways and development) and 3% because access was
denied (
htm). Since the total land area of England and Wales
(including urban areas) is only 151,140 square kilometres
(58,355 square miles) (http://www.nationsencyclopedia.
com/economies/Europe/United-Kingdom.html), the
Countryside Alliance’s gures are somewhat confusing.
Presumably they do not take account of the fact the
different types of hounds (such as beagles or harriers,
foxhounds, minkhounds and staghounds) have overlapping
countries. However, if an average of 29% of each hunt
country is not hunted for safety reasons or because
access is denied, hunts operated over around 70%
of the rural land in England and Wales prior to the
implementation of the Hunting Act 2004. Also, since
hunts shared countries, much of rural Britain was hunted
by more than one pack of hounds.
In the early 1980s, there were 80 followers on a typical
day’s foxhunting, with fty mounted and the rest foot
followers (Macdonald & Johnson, 1996), but the range
was considerable, depending on the hunt and day of
the week. In the late 1990s some of the larger hunts
had 200 hundred mounted followers, although the
number reduced as the day proceeded (Phelps et al.,
1997). Based on data collected in 2000, the Countryside
Alliance found an average of 100 subscribers per hunt
(based on 273 of the 318 registered hunts in England
and Wales), and these 273 hunts held a total of 18,000
hunting days each season. Hunt supporters’ clubs had
an average of 170 members, and 87 non-members
that were regular visitors (
The make-up of the hunting eld was not well documented,
although signicant numbers of farmers and landowners
participated (Burns et al., 2000). In their submission to
the Burns Inquiry, the Four Burrow Hunt for instance
said that 29 of its 90 members were full time farmers
In 2000, the Countryside Alliance estimated that the
total annual attendance at the meets of the 318 packs
of hounds in England and Wales was 1,280,000: of
these, 541,000 people (42%) were mounted and 741,000
(58%) were on foot. Since a proportion of the people
who attend meets do not go on to follow the day’s
hunting, it is unclear how many of these people spent
some or all of the day following the hunt. Of the hunt
followers, 64% lived in a village or rural situation, and
17% were agricultural workers (
org:80/cfh/010517hfof.htm; Orendi, 2012). So many
followers and supporters travelled from a farm or estate
to a hunt meet, often on another farm or estate.
A day’s hunting
A day’s hunting typically lasts from 11:00 to around
16:00. Having travelled to the meet, mounted followers
unbox their horses, either on a roadside or a farm near,
or at, the meet. Their horse box may be moved to
another farm by a groom if the rider changes to a
second horse part-way through the day, and it may
be parked at another location to collect the horse(s)
at the end of the day.
There will also be a number of hunt vehicles, usually
quad bikes, but also 4WD vehicles, driving across
farmland either laying trails, digging out foxes, or simply
to follow the hunt. In 2000, 15% of hunt supporters
followed the hunt on foot, 7.5% by car, 6% on motor
bikes and 4% on bicycles (
org:80/cfh/010517hfof.htm). During the day the hounds
will run some tens of miles across country and along
roads and bridleways, the exact distance depending
on how good the scent is that day (page 16). At various
times during the day, those who follow on foot, motor
bikes and bicycles go onto farmland using farm tracks
and other access points to watch the hunt, and those
who follow in cars may park their vehicles to walk across
farmland to access a vantage point where they can
observe the hunt.
So throughout a typical day’s hunting, hounds, horses,
people and vehicles will operate on a number of farms,
sometimes in elds with livestock, and/or with livestock
faeces, and/or elds that have been spread with animal-
based manures that may contain a variety of infectious
agents (page 8). At no point during the day is the hunt
stopped for biosecurity measures before moving from
one farm to the next. Nor are biosecurity measures in
place before or at the end of the day’s hunting, and
once the day’s hunting is over many of the participants
will be returning to other farms or estates in the area.
Sporting visits
Hunts also regularly take their hounds, horses and
vehicles on sporting visits to other hunts’ countries,
often some distance away, and these are becoming
ever more popular (http://www.the
hunt-visits-packing-visitors-32011), not least because, in
recent years, kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis)
has prevented many packs from hunting until the hounds
recovered (page 15). The Eggesford Hunt, Exe Valley
Buckhounds and Taunton Vale Harriers, for instance,
were all affected in 2015 (Anon., 2015b), as were the Old
Berkeley Beagles and the Cury Hunt the following year
(Anon., 2016a), and the Fernie Hunt, the United Hunt
and the Woodland Pytchley Hunt the year after (Anon.,
2017a). A few examples of sporting visits are shown in
Box 4.
Box 4. Examples of some of the packs of foxhounds
that operated in other hunt countries in recent
years, mostly due to kennel cough or long-standing
When the Sinnington Hunt’s hounds had kennel cough at the start
of the 2016 season, the hounds from the Hurworth, Holderness,
Bilsdale and Saltersgate Farmers Hunts all hunted in their country
(Anon., 2016a)
When the Worcestershire Hunt’s hounds missed a week due to
a sneezing virus, the Clifton-on-Teme Hunt and North Ledbury
Hunt hounds both hunted in their country (Anon., 2016b)
When the Vine and Craven Hunt were unable to take their hounds
to the meet at Newbury Showground due to kennel cough, the
Pytchley Hunt brought their hounds from Northamptonshire for a
day in Berkshire (Anon., 2017b)
In October 2017 the Pennine Foxhounds made their 42nd visit
to the west country to hunt in Cornwall and south Dartmoor:
they were kennelled as usual with the Dartmoor Hunt and hunted
in the countries of the Dart Vale and South Pool, Dartmoor,
Lamerton, North Cornwall and South Devon Hunts (Fermor, 2017)
There is a long tradition of beagles hunting in other
parts of the country, and even in Ireland. Until they were
disbanded, the Curragh Beagles used to invite UK packs
over to hunt. The Woodrock and Blackwater Beagles in
County Cork hold an annual beagling festival in the rst
week of February. In 2013 it was the 30th year for the
Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles; the other UK pack
to be invited was the Old Berkeley Beagles, which were
on their rst visit. The Radley College Beagles were also
invited to hunt in the Ballymacad Foxhound country
(Green, 2013).
In Britain, the Norfolk Beagles Hound Club do not have
their own hounds and other packs routinely hunt their
country by invitation (
Kingdom). There are also a number of annual festivals
where beagle packs attend from around the country.
One of the largest was the Alston hare week, held
annually in October until 2014 (https://www.huntsabs
/617-alston-hare-week-the-nal-nail-in-the-cofn); other
examples of joint beagling meets and festivals are given
in Box 5.
Box 5. Examples of some of the packs of beagles that
made sporting visits to other hunt countries in recent
Alston and Northumberland Beagling Festivals held in October
2008 included the Black Combe, Chilmark and Clifton Foot,
Newcastle and District, Pipewell, Old Berkeley, Pevensey Marsh,
Stokesley, Weardale and Tees Valley, West Somerset and Wick
and District Beagles (Humphreys, 2008)
Alston 2012 included the Britannia, Old Berkley Beagles (which
had spent the previous week in Scotland), Stokesley Farmers,
Stour Valley, Warwickshire and Weardale and Tees Valley Beagles
(Heaton, 2012)
Alston 2013 included the Britannia, Chilmark and Clifton Foot,
Stour Valley, Weardale and Tees Valley and West Somerset Beagles
(Anon., 2013)
Goathland hunting week 2013 included the Ampleforth, Blean,
Colne Valley, Hunsley Beacon, Stokesley Farmers and Stowe
Beagles courtesy of the Norfolk Beagles Hound Club (Downds,
Northumberland is regularly visited by at least ten packs: in 2013
this included the Brighton Storrington Surrey and North Sussex,
Derbyshire Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, Newcastle and
District, Old Berkeley, Pipewell and West Somerset Beagles
(Lonsir, 2013)
The Cheshire Beagles hunted with the Warwickshire Beagles and
in Yorkshire (Downds, 2015b)
The Dummer Beagles hunted at Carno, Montgomeryshire (Anon.,
Eton College Beagles visited the Dummer Beagles in Gloucestershire
(Anon., 2010)
The Sandhurst and Aldershot Beagles hunted at Aberhosan,
Machynlleth (Anon., 2008b)
The Weardale and Tees Valley Beagles hunted at Llangollen,
Wrexham (Anon., 2008c)
Weather can also have an impact on the number of
sporting visits: there was so little autumnal rain at the
start of the 2015 season that every pack of lowland
beagles that was able to do so went to hunt in upland
areas to reduce the risk of their young hounds becoming
lame on the hard ground in the lowlands (Downds,
2015a). All of these movements of packs of hounds
around the country add to the risk of spreading diseases
to new areas.
Biosecurity advice from the hunting
Despite all the biosecurity advice from other countryside
organisations, there is very little from the hunting
organisations. The Countryside Alliance’s Guide to trail
hunting (
side-alliance-guide-trail-hunting/) and their Newcomer’s
guide to hunting (
Guide.pdf) make no reference to biosecurity issues.
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Similarly, the Masters of Foxhounds Association’s (MFHA)
Code of good hunting (
which the MFHA issues on behalf of nine organisations,
simply says Never do anything that would be detrimental
to agricultural interests, but does not explain what this
may be or make any specic reference to biosecurity.
The advice hunting organisations give to their followers
is focused on how to behave in the hunting eld and
etiquette, rather than how to minimise the risk of
spreading disease from one farm to the next.
The biosecurity advice from a range of farming,
veterinary and governmental organisations is very
similar, and focuses on the need to avoid people and
vehicles moving between farms without following
careful disinfection procedures, the need to avoid
transferring soil and faeces between farms, the
importance of not sharing vehicles and equipment
between farms, the importance of minimising the
number of visitors to farms, the need to keep
visitors away from livestock, and the disease risks
posed by dogs having access to elds used for
livestock and growing vegetable crops. These most
basic biosecurity measures are ignored by hunts, and
sporting visits to other parts of the country pose a
signicant risk of spreading diseases to new areas
Showing hounds at public
Events attended by working hounds
Hounds interact with people, horses and other dogs
brought to the meet at the start of a day’s hunting.
Hounds are also taken to a variety of events around
the country where they interact directly and indirectly
with other packs of hounds, livestock and a diversity
of people of all ages.
There are seven hound shows at which packs of foxhounds
are shown: Builth Wells, Honiton, Lowther, Peterborough,
Rydal, the South of England Hound Show and The Great
Yorkshire Show (Cairns, 2007). Stackyard, the online
farming magazine, listed 148 major agricultural shows
across the UK scheduled for 2018: hound displays were
due to be included, or had been included in previous
years, at 83 (56%) of these. Packs of hounds did not
appear to be included at 63 (43%), and there was no
information for two shows. Up to eight packs, with over
200 hounds, can be paraded together at agricultural
shows, and provide a rare opportunity for young people
to mingle with the hounds (Cairns, 2007). There are also
a large number of country fairs, country shows and game
fairs each year (, as
well as fetes, hunt puppy shows and other events where
Children are at particular risk of infection from hounds
hounds are on display. Just a few hounds may taken to
smaller events (Cairns, 2007).
According to the Countryside Alliance, hound parades
are incredibly popular throughout the summer season
and most hunts parade a number of times at various
events (
show-support/). So packs of hounds are attending
several hundred, if not more, public events each year.
Biosecurity at animal gatherings
Anyone wanting to hold an animal gathering that includes
cattle, deer, goats, pigs and sheep must have an Animal
Gatherings Order (AGO) from the Animal and Plant
Health Agency (APHA) (
get-a-licence-to-hold-an-animal-gathering). A key
condition of the AGO is that the licence holder takes
all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of disease,
and Animal Health (an executive agency of Defra) has
published guidelines on biosecurity at animal gatherings.
These include: good, clearly-identied facilities for
people who handle animals to scrub and disinfect their
boots when they go into and leave the animal area;
washing their hands thoroughly; washing down any
waterproof clothing; and safely disposing of any used
disposable clothing. Organisers should provide facilities
for cleansing and disinfecting vehicles and equipment
that has been used in the animal rings and visitors
should not come onto the premises with clothes or
a vehicle contaminated with mud or other farm
contamination (
Basic biosecurity advice to farmers is that all livestock
returning to the farm after a show should undergo
quarantine procedures, and during this period: they
should not share the same air space as the other ani-
mals; they should have a separate water supply; there
should be separate equipment for quarantined stock;
there should be a disinfection point outside the isolation
area; staff should use separate protective clothing when
in the isolation area; and staff should work with the
quarantined animals last (
The current biosecurity measures specically apply to
people who manage livestock, even though vehicles
used to transport hounds to animal gatherings pose a
comparable risk of disease transmission, both to animals
and people at the event and to the other hounds in the
pack on their return. However, few hunts have basic sick
bay or quarantine facilities (Hobson, 1987), or follow
other quarantine procedures when hounds return from
agricultural shows and other public events.
Spread of diseases at animal shows
Although human-animal contact has many benets,
there are associated risks of human health problems.
Between 1996 and 2010, there were approximately 150
human infectious disease outbreaks involving animals
in public settings in the US (National Association of
State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc., 2011). Infections
with enteric bacteria and parasites pose the highest risk
because animal fur, hair, skin and saliva harbour faecal
organisms, and so transmission can occur when people
pet, touch, feed, or are licked by animals. Key risk factors
are direct animal contact and inadequate hand washing.
Children are at particular risk because of their immature
immune systems and poor hygiene, and the risks of
transmission are enhanced when hand-washing and
other facilities are not available (National Association
of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc., 2011). As one
example, the low number of Toxocara canis eggs in soil
and the relatively high numbers on the fur of dogs
suggest that direct contact with dogs may be more
important in the epidemiology of human toxocariasis
than soil contamination (Wolfe & Wright, 2003). The
MFHA of America recognises the risk of disease
transmission between hounds and children and stress
the importance of keeping their hounds healthy
(Seier & Foster, 2015).
In addition to the risks of hounds transmitting disease
between sites and livestock, and people and any dogs
they may have bought to the show, there is also a
signicant risk of transmission between packs of hounds.
Kennel cough is a highly contagious canine respiratory
disease caused by a number of different bacteria and
viruses, normally a combination: two of the commonest
causative organisms are Bordetella bronchiseptica and
canine parainuenza virus (http://www.pethealthnet-
kennel-cough-signs-and-symptoms). An outbreak of
kennel cough in hounds in 2013 meant that the MFHA
and the organisers of the Peterborough Festival of
Hunting, the leading hound show, had to exclude any
pack of hounds that had been at the Great Yorkshire
Show that year because kennel cough had been
conrmed in a pack that showed there (http://www.
Despite these measures, other packs of hounds picked
up kennel cough that year on the hound show circuit
php?677209-Kennel-Cough-any-experiences). In 2015,
kennel cough meant that only 13 packs showed at
Peterborough out of the 21 entered (Anon., 2015b).
In 2017 Horse & Hound reported a dwindling support
for the major hound shows, in part due to the risks of
contracting kennel cough (https://www.pressreader.
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Similarly, one of the factors contributing to the spread of
visceral leishmaniosis over a large part of the eastern US
and Canada was that packs of foxhounds from different
parts of the country attended joint meets and events
(Anon., 2001).
While there are benets of human/animal contact at
agricultural shows and other events, there is also a
signicant risk of disease transmission, both between
animals and humans at the event, and between
locations. Biosecurity advice issued by Animal Health
for licensed animal gatherings currently only apply to
livestock, but basic biosecurity advice during the event
and on quarantining livestock returning from a show
are equally relevant to packs of hounds. The spread
of kennel cough in Britain and visceral leishmaniosis
in North America illustrate the risks that hounds
attending events will spread diseases to new parts of
the country
Feeding hounds
Energy requirements of hounds
There are no quantied data on the distance travelled
by hounds each day. Prior to the use of hound vans, one
Master of Foxhounds (MFH) estimated that a foxhound
would jog 12 miles to the meet, was drawing or hunting
for around ve hours and would then walk 8 miles or so
home. On this basis, he estimated that a hound would
be out for 8.5 to 9 hours and would travel at least 30
to 40 miles on a bad day, but 50 to 60 miles on a good
scenting day, when hounds were running hard most of
the day (Barclay, 1946). Another MFH suggested that
hounds are capable of running up to 70 miles in a day
(Beaufort, 1980). Whatever the accuracy of these
estimates, it is clear that hounds travel long distances
when hunting, and both the distance and speed
travelled depend on the scenting conditions that day.
The maintenance energy requirement (MER) is the
energy required by a moderately active adult dog at
the optimal ambient temperature to maintain body
weight, but not support growth, pregnancy or lactation:
estimates of the MER for inactive pet dogs of the same
weights as different breeds of hounds are shown in Table
2. The MFHA of America give slightly higher MERs for
foxhounds, suggesting 1710 kcal for a 30 kg (66 lbs)
foxhound and 2110 kcal for a 40 kg (88 lbs) foxhound.
On hunting days, foxhounds may require two to three
times more energy than their MER (Daniels & Haight,
1975; Cline & Reynolds, 2005). As a rough calculation,
when hunting, foxhounds require 0.8 k/cal (kilocalories)
per pound of body weight per mile travelled (Seier &
Foster, 2015) or over 4000 kcal on a typical hunting day
2,Feeding+working+dogs.html). Supplying this amount
of energy for hounds during the hunting season can
cause practical problems.
Table 2. Typical weight ranges of different hounds
(Fogle, 2000) and the maintenance energy requirement
(MER) for an inactive pet dog of the same weight
Weight -
Weight -
Basset hound 18 - 27 40 - 60 830 - 1125
Beagle 8 - 14 18 - 30 452 - 688
Bloodhound 36 - 50 80 - 110 1396 - 1786
foxhound 25 - 34 55 - 75 1062 - 1338
Harrier 22 - 27 48 - 60 965 - 1125
Otterhound 30 - 55 65 - 120 1218 - 1919
Dogs are more efcient at fat metabolism than most
other species, and fat has about 2.5 times more
energy per gram than either protein or carbohydrate.
An appropriate diet for hounds should provide
approximately 25% of the calories from protein,
30% from fat, and 45% from carbohydrates (Cline &
Reynolds, 2005). Because of the differing digestibility
of the various components, hunt season diets should
be 30% protein and 27% fat but, to save costs, off
season diets can be reduced to 23-24% protein and
10-15% fat (Seier & Foster, 2015).
Diet digestibility should be at least 80% to promote
adequate uptake of the nutrients without excess faecal
bulk. The more energy dense the food, the less
voluminous the stool (Cline & Reynolds, 2005). As
a rough guide, because of the difference in energy
content, a dog must consume one-third more dry
matter in the form of cereal than meat for the same
amount of work and, because of the difference in
digestibility, cereals have to be cooked before feeding
to dogs (Daniels & Haight, 1975). So cereal-based
diets are usually fed in the form of a cooked porridge
that is allowed to cool until it becomes a solid pudding.
This is generally made a day in advance, and fed to
hounds in a trough mixed with chopped cooked meat
and some of the broth in which the meat has been
cooked. However, feeding cooked foods is more time-
consuming and involves a lot more for work hunt staff
to prepare than if the hounds are fed raw esh (Cook,
1826; Jones, 1989). Also, raw esh takes much longer
to go through a hound than cooked meat mixed into
a porridge or cereal diet (Banta et al., 1979; Beaufort,
1980), and so hounds need to be fed far less often when
their diet is predominantly raw esh (Beaufort, 1980).
Changes in feeding practices
From the mediaeval period to a peak in the 18th century,
horse meat was the preferred food for hounds (Wilson
& Edwards, 1993). However, it was stressed to huntsmen
that it was important to beware of the vendor from
whom horseesh was purchased, and to boil the meat
before feeding it to hounds, since any disease a horse
may have died from could be passed on to the dogs
(Cook, 1826).
Thereafter, until the start of the Second World War,
hounds were primarily fed on boiled horse esh
mixed with oatmeal and vegetables (Colville, 1940;
Higginson, 1948). For reasons of economy, rice was
often substituted for oatmeal in the summer (Shepherd,
1936). However, some beaglers preferred to give the
esh to hounds raw. Carcases were cut into small
pieces or skinned, quartered and thrown, uncooked,
to hounds; the latter ensured that the beagles were
unable to gorge (Paget, 1931; Lloyd, 1954; Hobson,
The Second World War ended the use of oatmeal for
animal feeding, and fuel and labour costs meant that
most hunts started to feed their hounds on raw esh
(Lloyd, 1954; Thompson & Smyth, 1975; Lett, 2013),
even though the risks had long been recognised.
Section 6 of the Dogs Act 1906, for instance, made it
an offence for Any person who shall knowingly and
without reasonable excuse permit the carcase of any
head of cattle belonging to him to remain unburied in
a eld or other place to which dogs can gain access shall
be liable on conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction
Acts to a ne not exceeding forty shillings. Section 7 of
the Dogs Act 1906 dened cattle as including horses,
mules, asses, sheep, goats, and swine. This measure
was introduced to prevent the spread of parasites,
particularly tapeworms, associated with dogs eating raw
meat (pages 35 and 36). For this reason, hunts were
recommended to establish the cause of death of any
animal, particularly if it was to be fed raw to the hounds.
If death was from disease, or there was any doubt about
the cause of death, it should be cooked (Lloyd, 1954).
In the mid-1970s, a questionnaire was sent to all the 353
registered hunt kennels in Great Britain (203 foxhounds,
83 beagles, 26 harriers, 16 otterhounds, 12 basset
hounds, six drag hunts, four staghounds and three blood-
hounds): half responded. Of the larger packs (foxhounds,
harriers and staghounds), 34% fed just raw meat, 14%
only used cooked meat, and 52% used a combination
of raw and cooked meat, sometimes with added cereal.
However, where the meat was cooked, the cooking was
rarely adequate to sterilise the meat. For the smaller
packs (basset hounds, beagles, bloodhounds, drag-
hounds and otterhounds), the gures were 24.6%, 10.5%
and 64.8%, respectively. Very little sheep meat was used,
except by smaller hunts, which had to use what they
could get. In Scotland few horses were fed to hounds,
generally not more than ve times a year, whereas in the
rest of Great Britain horse meat was fed as frequently as
once a fortnight, and sometimes once a week. The ma-
jority of hunts which fed raw meat also fed the offal raw,
and very often the liver and lungs were not removed
from the carcase, which was fed directly to the hounds.
Very few hunts rejected cystic livers or lungs, which were
reportedly relished by the hounds (Thompson & Smyth,
1975). During this period most hunts were able to obtain
adequate supplies of raw esh, although the Duke of
Beaufort’s Hunt found this difcult to come by, and so
used aked wheat scalded the night before, mixed with
thoroughly boned meat that had been chopped up and
cooked the previous day (Beaufort, 1980).
Most hunts today continue to feed raw esh to their
hounds (page 25). For hunts that use dried food to feed
their hounds, either instead of, or as a supplement to,
raw esh, several different commercial dried foods are
now available (e.g.; www., and these avoid the need for cooking.
The working hound meal produced by Target Feeds, for
example, is described as a fully cooked, highly digestible
meal designed to be fed either as the sole complete
maintenance and working diet or at lower feeding rates
as a esh balancer when esh is short (https://www.
The MFHA of America recommend that, if dry food is
fed, the highest quality dry food should be used i.e. it
should have the highest protein and fat percentages
that the hunt can afford, and that the amount that is
fed should be varied according to the work level of the
hounds. They also advise that, if esh is fed, only good
meat must be used (Foster & Wood, 2015). However,
these commercial feeds are expensive, and some UK
hunts seem to be using a variety of human food items
to feed their hounds (e.g. Barker, 2010a, 2011).
Feeding hounds on hunting days
Hunts try to ensure that their hounds hunt on an empty
stomach. In the mid-1800s, hounds were typically fed
around 11:00 so that they would have 24 hours before
they started hunting and be sharp set (Scrutator, 1858).
Withholding food for approximately 24 hours before
a period of intense exercise also helps alleviate
problems associated with a full colon (Koehn, 1942;
Cline & Reynolds, 2005).
Although practices vary between hunts, foxhounds are
now usually fed earlier in the day. Foxhounds that meet
at 11:00 are usually fed the previous day about 08:00
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
but 24 hours from the time of feeding to the time of
meeting is probably sufcient for beagles which, for their
size, have a more strenuous day than foxhounds (Paget,
1931). The Duke of Beaufort’s hounds that were not
hunting were typically fed at 07:00, but those that were
hunting would not be fed until they came in, and so
would have been up to 36 hours without food to ensure
that their stomachs really were empty (Beaufort, 1980).
Mean whole gut transit time (WGTT) in dogs ranged
from 19 to 34 hours (Rolfe et al., 2002). In a range of
dogs of different sizes, stomach emptying time ranged
from 6 hours 45 minutes to 14 hours 57 minutes, and
WGTT ranged from 21 hours 34 minutes to 57 hours 23
minutes (Boillat et al., 2010). Thus hounds that have had
food withheld for 24 hours will have an empty stomach,
but most of the food will not have been passed,
especially if they were fed raw esh.
Because their guts are not empty, hounds defecate
during a day’s hunting, but how often is unclear: a
healthy dog will normally defecate a couple of times
a day. The amount of faeces produced is variable: a
dog fed a predominantly cereal as opposed to a meat
diet has to eliminate over 2.5 times as much dry matter
in faeces (Daniels & Haight, 1975). Larger breeds of
dogs typically produce more soft stools when fed a
diet rich in offal or other meat protein and connective
tissues (Zentek & Meyer, 1995).
Exercise is a heat-producing activity and about 60%
of the heat dissipated by exercising dogs is through
water evaporation in the respiratory tract. So a plentiful
supply of water is important to remove the by-products
of energy metabolism, and dogs should be actively
encouraged to drink water during extended periods of
exercise (Cline & Reynolds, 2005). However, hunts rarely
provide water for their hounds when they are in the eld,
and they typically drink from natural water sources and
livestock drinking troughs, particularly on warm days,
even though ingesting untreated water from lakes, rivers
and streams are signicant risk factors for dogs infecting
humans with Campylobacter (Adak et al., 1995), and
allowing dogs access to livestock water troughs poses a
signicant risk to livestock (
Giardiosis, a diarrheal disease caused by Giardia lamblia,
is also on concern. The parasite survives in contaminated
water; 21% of UK dogs are infected and over 3500
human cases are reported in England and Wales each
year, although many cases go undiagnosed. Key to
preventing transmission is for dogs to be provided with
clean drinking water rather than allowing them to rely
on environmental sources (
giardiasis/; Baneth et al., 2016).
Hounds require a high-energy diet, especially during
the hunting season. Prior to the Second World War,
most hunts fed their hounds on a porridge pudding
with cooked meat added, but restrictions on using
oats to feed animals and rising fuel and labour costs
meant that most hunts now rely mainly on raw esh.
Some hunts use commercial dried foods, either ex-
clusively or to supplement a raw esh diet, and some
hunts also use unwanted human food items. While
hounds are not fed for around 24-hours before hunt-
ing, gut passage times mean that they are still likely
to defecate when out hunting. Hounds require a lot of
water when active: hunts typically do not supply water
for their hounds when hunting, so they drink at natural
water sources and livestock water troughs, despite the
associated biosecurity risks
Health risks of feeding raw
meat to dogs
The risks to companion animals
Because of the inherent risks of eating animals that have
died of, or were weakened by, disease, scavengers and
species such as wolves (the ancestors of dogs) that are
both predators and scavengers as circumstances prevail
(Mattisson et al., 2016), have signicantly higher stomach
acidities to help protect them from the foreign microbes
in their food (Beasley et al., 2015). However, the acidity
of a dog’s stomach is only a partial barrier to microbes.
There is an increasing trend to feed BARF diets
(variously taken to mean Biologically appropriate raw
food or Bones and raw food) to pet dogs. The meat
included in commercially-available diets is human-grade,
but pets are also fed on meat and offal from a variety
of sources. The health risks of feeding raw meat to pet
dogs (whatever the source) are well established. In North
America, the American Animal Hospital Association,
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and
the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have
issued statements discouraging the inclusion of raw
or undercooked animal-source protein in dog diets
(Freeman et al., 2013). Because of the risk of illness
to both companion animals and humans, the AVMA
discourages feeding dogs with any animal-source
protein that has not rst been subjected to a process
to eliminate pathogens (
Similar advice is given by the British Veterinary Association
(BVA). In a policy brief issued on 12th October 2005,
they advised against feeding raw meat or bones to
companion animals because of the risk of infection
with pathogens such as Campylobacter, Clostridium,
Escherichia coli, Listeria, Salmonella and norovirus
british-veterinary-association-policy-brief). These
pathogens pose a substantial risk of infectious disease
for the pet, the pet’s environment, and the people in
the household (Schlesinger & Joffe, 2011; Waters, 2017).
The BVA issued a subsequent statement on 31st January
2014 conrming that, while raw food diets are increasingly
popular for dogs, it can be difcult to ensure that they
are safe (
In England and Wales, occupational exposure to raw meat
and having a household with a pet with diarrhoea were
signicant risk factors for infection with Campylobacter
(Adak et al., 1995). Campylobacteriosis is the most
frequently reported notiable human enteric infection
in the United States, and a large proportion of the dogs
infected with Campylobacter excrete bacteria in their
faeces without showing symptoms (LeJeune & Hancock,
2001). Canine faeces are a potential reservoir for
Escherichia coli and avoiding feeding raw meat to
pet dogs may reduce the chance of humans becoming
infected (Naziri et al., 2016). In the UK, a signicantly
higher seroprevalence for Toxoplasma in women was
associated with feeding a dog raw meat (Nash et al.,
However, the biggest threat is Salmonella. It causes the
most hospital admissions and around 200 deaths per
year in the UK and can only be killed by heat (Waters,
2017). In the US, Salmonella spp. are estimated to cause
about 1.4 million non-typhoidal infections in humans per
year; of these about 15,000 cases require hospitalisation,
and over 400 people die (Doyle et al., 2009). Being fed
a commercial or homemade raw diet or a homemade
cooked diet increases a pet dog’s risk of being infected
with Salmonella (Leonard et al., 2011). Healthy dogs can
became infected with Salmonella after a single meal
(Finley, 2004), and standard methods of cleaning and
disinfection are minimally effective at eliminating
Salmonella contamination of food bowls (Weese &
Rousseau, 2006). A large proportion of infected dogs
become carriers, excreting organisms in their faeces
without showing symptoms (LeJeune & Hancock, 2001),
thereby contaminating the household and wider
environment, and potentially infecting people and other
animals (
Finley et al., 2006, 2007).
Feeding meat that had not been cooked properly,
particularly meat unt for human consumption, was
thought to have contributed to widespread Salmonella
There is a signicant health risk of allowing people to interact with hounds fed raw meat and offal from fallen stock
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
infection in greyhounds at a breeding facility and extensive
environmental contamination. Husbandry factors such
as commingling groups of young dogs, failure to
separate or isolate sick or newly introduced dogs, and
limited use of hand hygiene procedures after handling
food or faeces, or between handling dogs from different
groups, contributed to the spread of Salmonella enterica
throughout the kennels (Morley et al., 2006).
Similarly, 14 out of 45 dogs in a Swedish kennel died
during an outbreak of Aujeszky’s disease (pseudorabies).
The source of the infection was abattoir offal (throats,
lungs and livers from pig) stored frozen at -25 to -35oC
for up to six weeks before being thawed and fed raw
to the dogs. None of the 15 dogs in a separate part of
the kennels, where the offal was always cooked before
being fed to the dogs, contracted the disease (Hugoson
& Rockborn, 1972).
Alabama rot (idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular
vasculopathy) is a mysterious disease rst identied in
greyhounds in Alabama in the 1980s, and in Britain in
November 2012. It is still rare, but cases are widespread.
While the cause is currently unknown, one suggestion
is that Alabama rot is due to toxins from bacteria in raw
meat eaten by the dogs (
news/alabama-rot-dog-disease-what-you-need-know;; http://www.
html; Holm et al., 2015).
The risks to working dogs
While the risk of food-borne illnesses in pet dogs,
particularly those fed on a BARF diet, is a major concern,
the risks to working dogs are more signicant when they
are fed the carcases of fallen stock. The problem was
highlighted by a retired huntsman, who cautioned that,
when you receive cattle or sheep, you do not know what
the vet has been treating them with or what infections
they have had. You have to feed what you have (Barker,
2010b). There is a signicant risk of disease transmission
to the hounds (page 28), as well as the risk of introducing
or perpetuating diseases in livestock populations
(LeJeune & Hancock, 2001).
The two diseases that are a major concern to farmers are
neosporosis in cattle and sarcocystosis in sheep. Both
can be picked up by dogs which eat infected placenta/
foetal material, or raw meat from infected stock. To
minimise the risk of picking up the parasites, dogs,
including farm dogs, should not be allowed to eat material
from fallen stock, or other material such as placentas
or foetal material. Prompt disposal of carcases and any
other potentially contaminated material will help to
limit the spread of disease, and farm dogs should not
be allowed to defecate in grazing elds (http://www.les//docs/
Feeding raw meat to dogs that have contact with
livestock also poses risks due to the possibility of
infection with parasitic cestodes (tapeworms). Taenia
hydatigena and Taenia ovis develop in the liver or muscle
of their intermediate hosts and cause cysticercosis
in livestock; their life cycle is completed by feeding
infected meat or organs to dogs, which then contaminate
the environment with eggs that are infectious to livestock.
Similarly, Echinococcus granulosus is transmitted from
dogs to cattle, goats, pigs and sheep via their faeces
html; LeJeune & Hancock, 2001). People can become
infected with echinococcosis by direct contact with
dogs (their fur can be contaminated with eggs), or by
ingesting soil, water or vegetables contaminated by dog
faeces (
gen_info/ce-faqs.html). Not allowing a dog to eat raw
meat from cattle, goats, pigs and sheep prevents the
dog from becoming infected (
parasites/echinococcosis/gen_info/ce-faqs.html), and
farmers/land managers should remove any raw livestock
matter, such as an aborted foetus, the placenta of a
newly born calf/lamb, or fallen stock, promptly to make
sure that dogs cannot access or eat it (http://www.les//docs/
While the cornerstone of preventing toxocariasis in
humans is minimizing the environmental contamination
with (infective) eggs by rigorous removal of faeces and
by treatment of infected dogs and cats, other preventive
measures include avoiding transmission by feeding of
raw liver or offal (Baneth et al., 2016).
A number of veterinary organisations have issued
advice urging people not to feed raw meat to dogs
because of the health risks to the dogs and the risks of
disease transmission to humans. Raw meat can carry a
number of life-threatening pathogens, and dogs can
excrete some of these pathogens without showing
any symptoms. Feeding raw meat diets to working
and other dogs in contact with livestock perpetuates a
number of costly livestock diseases
Collection of fallen stock by
Routine mortality of animals is an inevitable consequence
of livestock farming, and modern farming systems
generate a signicant number of fallen stock that need
to be disposed of safely, practically and economically
(Gwyther et al., 2011). Fallen stock includes dead animals
and condemned materials from any animal that has
died of natural causes or disease on a farm or that has
been killed on a farm for reasons other than for human
consumption, and so fallen stock may contain a wide
variety of chemical contaminants and/or biological
agents (
Agriculture/animal-welfare/ABPs/fallenstock; EU
Scientic Steering Committee, 1999).
Changes in legislation
To try to control the use of raw meat that was not t for
human consumption, the Meat (Sterilization) Regulations
1969 required that knackers’ yards were licensed and
inspected by local authorities. While these Regulations
prevented hunt kennels from getting raw meat from a
knacker’s yard or slaughterhouse, they were viewed as
a service rather than a trade and so hunt kennels were
unlicensed and could still obtain fallen stock or casualty
animals directly from farmers. So the esh of fallen stock
continued to be fed to hounds and the left-overs and
unusable offal sold to renderers to produce fertilisers
and animal feed (Anon., 1993). A contemporary report
on echinococcosis in Wales described this as a loophole
in the Regulations (Williams, 1982).
The Meat (Sterilization) Regulations 1969 were revoked
by the Meat (Sterilisation and Staining) Regulations 1982
as amended (there were similar regulations in Scotland
Fallen stock should not be accessible to wild animals or necrophagous birds and not left uncovered as in this hunt kennel
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
and Northern Ireland), which also restricted the use of
meat not t for human consumption. Stained but not
sterilised meat could, for instance, only be moved from
a knacker’s yard to a zoological garden, menagerie, fur
farm, maggot farm or greyhound kennels. Again, these
regulations did not apply to hunt kennels.
The discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
in the UK in 1986 led to a number of new regulations
being introduced, such as the Bovine Offal (Prohibition)
Regulations 1989, the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Order 1991, the Specied Bovine Offal Order 1995 and
the Specied Bovine Material Order 1996 as amended
(; http://;
uk/animalh/bse/legislation/index.html). The aim was to
prevent high risk parts of cattle, referred to as specied
bovine offal (SBO) and, subsequently, specied risk
materials (SRMs), from entering the animal and human
food chain. The high-risk materials included the brain,
spinal cord, spleen, thymus, tonsils and intestines of a
bovine animal six months old or over which had died,
or been slaughtered, in the UK, and the thymus and
intestines of younger animals. After November 1990
no SBO should have been fed to hounds (or any other
animal). However, Richard Packer, the Permanent
Secretary at MAFF (now Defra) from 1993 to 2000,
reported that, as late as 1995, this provision was not
always complied with (Packer, 2006).
The BSE restrictions increased the running costs of hunts
by several thousand pounds a year if they had to pay
renders to dispose of unwanted materials (Anon., 1993).
For hunts without their own incinerator, the cost of
removal was around £150 per tonne. In the early 1990s
the BSE regulations were costing the Chiddingfold,
Leconeld & Cowdray Hunt £8000 to £12,000 per
annum for disposal of offal. Prior to BSE, the collection
of fallen stock cost the Berkeley Hunt £15,000 per
annum and, following BSE, the disposal of unwanted
animal material cost the hunt an additional £16,500 per
annum. As a consequence, hunts started to ask farmers
who allowed them to hunt on their land for a voluntary
donation for collection of fallen stock, and had a set rate
of charges for other livestock owners (Anon., 1993). In
1997 the MFHA estimated that the cost of providing a
dead stock service was £15,000 for a Northumberland
hunt, £24,000 for a Gloucestershire Hunt, £27,000
for a Buckinghamshire Hunt and £49,000 for a
Northamptonshire Hunt (http://webarchive.national-
The food crises of the 1990s highlighted the part
played by animal by-products not intended for human
consumption in the spread of infectious diseases, and
on 1st July 2001 the Government brought in new
regulations to comply with European rules aimed at
combating the spread of BSE. These required that all
cattle over 30 months that died or had to be put down
were disposed of by Government employees. However,
there were too few staff available to deal with all the
carcases and, since BSE was the priority, in September
2001 Defra announced that hunt kennels were being
used to reduce the backlog of bTB reactors on farms.
Hunts were being paid £120 per animal, including
mileage, for the humane destruction of reactors, the
transportation of carcases, the preparation of the
carcase for post mortem examination at the kennels,
and disposal of the carcase including SRMs. Defra’s
justication for this policy was that cattle with bTB were
not technically fallen stock under the new regulations, so
using hunts was not in contravention of the rules (http://cials-
To limit the risk of pathogens and infective agents
entering the animal feed chain, the European Union
(EU) Animal By-Product Regulations (1774/2002) of 3rd
October 2002 laid down health rules concerning animal
by-products not intended for human consumption. This
restricted the disposal of fallen stock to incineration
(either on or off-farm), rendering, high temperature/
pressure alkaline hydrolysis, disposal at maggot farms or
through licensed waste collectors (http://eur-lex.europa.
Anon., 2002). The amended EU Animal By-Products
Regulation (1069/2009) came into effect in March 2011.
Burying fallen stock was banned in all EU member
states in 2003 to protect the health of humans and
animals and safeguard the environment. While farmers
cannot routinely burn or bury fallen stock on their farm,
there are exceptions for remote areas (https://www.;
Publications/2003/08/18059/25737). The regulations do
not apply to pets; in England all horses can be buried,
whereas only pet horses can be buried in Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland (
articles/fallen-stock-guidance). When asked by the
National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo), 15% of owners
had their horse’s body taken by the local hunt (https://
Disposal of fallen stock
There is no requirement to establish the cause of death
for fallen stock, but owners are required to contact their
local APHA immediately if they believe that an animal has
died of a notiable disease (see Table 3) (http://www.
fare/ABPs/fallenstock). All EU member states are also
required to carry out active disease surveillance for BSE
in cattle and scrapie in sheep and goats to determine
the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)
disease status of each country. Thus fallen cattle over
48 months old must be tested for BSE at an approved
sampling site (
Table 3. List of notiable animal diseases i.e. diseases that must legally be reported to the Animal and Plant Health
Agency (APHA), even if it is only suspected that an animal may be affected (
collections/notiable-diseases-in-animals); additional data from
Disease Hosts Last GB
record Disease Hosts Last GB
African horse sickness Horses Never Equine viral arteritis Horses 2010
African swine fever Pigs Never Foot and mouth disease
Cattle, pigs,
sheep, other
cloven hoofed
Anthrax Cattle, other
mammals Present Glanders and farcy Horses 1928
Aujeszky’s disease Pigs, other
mammals 1989 Goat plague Goats, sheep Never
Avian inuenza Poultry 2016 Lumpy skin disease Cattle Never
Bovine spongiform
encephalopathy Cattle Present Newcastle disease Poultry 2006
Bluetongue Cattle, goats,
sheep 2007 Paramyxovirus infection Pigeons Present
Bovine tuberculosis Cattle, deer,
other mammals Present Porcine epidemic
diarrhoea Pigs 2002
Brucellosis Cattle 2004 Rabies Dogs, other
mammals 2006
Chronic wasting disease Deer Never Rabies in bats Daubenton’s bats 2017
Classical swine fever Pigs 2000 Rift Valley fever Cattle, goats,
sheep Never
Contagious agalactia Goats, sheep Never Rinderpest Cattle 1877
Contagious bovine
pleuro-pneumonia Cattle 1898 Scrapie Goats, sheep Present
Contagious epididymitis Goats, sheep Never Sheep and goat pox Sheep 1866
Contagious equine
metritis Horses 2012 Sheep scab (notiable in
Scotland only) Sheep Present
Dourine Horses Never Swine vesicular disease Pigs 1892
Enzootic bovine leukosis Cattle 1996 Teschen disease Pigs Never
Epizootic haemorrhagic
disease Deer Never Vesicular stomatitis Cattle, horses,
pigs Never
Epizootic lymphangitis Horses 1906 Warble y Cattle, deer,
horses 1990
Equine infectious
anaemia Horses 2012 West Nile fever Horses Never
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
All other fallen stock must be collected, identied and
transported to an approved premise (
operating-plants-approved-premises) as soon as
reasonably practical under the circumstances, usually
within 48 hours of death. Because of the disease
risk, fallen stock must not be fed to red kites or
necrophagous birds (birds that feed on carcases),
and animals and birds must not be able to access
fallen stock prior to collection (
Publications/2005/03/20613/51366; https://
EU Animal By-Products Regulation (1069/2009) recognises
three categories of animal by-products (ABPs). Category
1 ABPs are classed as very high risk and include carcases
and all body parts of animals suspected of being infected
with TSE and SRMs. Category 2 ABPs are classed as
high risk and include animals rejected from abattoirs
due to having infectious diseases and carcases of dead
livestock. Category 3 ABPs are classed as low risk and
include hides and skins from slaughterhouses and animal
hides, skins, hooves, feathers, wool, horns, and hair that
had no signs of infectious disease at death. Any site that
collects and treats ABPs to be used as feed is considered
to be a collection centre; category 2 and 3 ABPs can be
treated at collection centres, and these sites must have
facilities to destroy unused ABPs or send them to an
approved processing, incineration, or co-incineration
plant to be destroyed (
The level of compliance with the Regulations is unclear.
During 2008 and 2009 aborted foetuses/stillborn animals
were being disposed of illegally by 19.5% of British
farmers who responded to a survey and placentas by
57.6%. Overall, 13.7% of respondents used a variety
of illegal disposal methods for fallen livestock carcases
and other ABPs. Beef farmers were the most likely to
dispose of placentas illegally, followed by dairy farmers
and sheep farmers. Illegal disposal of potentially
infectious material could increase disease transmission,
including Campylobacter species, enzootic (chlamydial)
abortion, scrapie and brucellosis (Cullen, 1991). This is
of particular concern since brucellosis, Campylobacter
species and enzootic (chlamydial) abortion are zoonotic
diseases, and brucellosis and scrapie are notiable
diseases (Kirby et al., 2010).
NFSCo works with around 100 fallen stock collectors
around the country ( Based on
mortality statistics and the numbers of livestock in the
UK, NFSCo believes that there is widespread non-
compliance with the regulations (
13122011103720.pdf; Gwyther et al., 2011). Michael
Seals, chairman of NFSCo, concluded that more than
a few farmers are outing the law to avoid the cost of
paying NFSCo to collect and dispose of the corpses
To try to address this problem, in 2011 Michael Seals
called, unsuccessfully, for the more stringent compliance
and inspection regulations introduced by the Welsh
Assembly in 2010 to be enforced uniformly across the
UK (Anon., 2011).
Number of fallen stock collected by hunts
in the past
During the 1990s, one report stated that 200 hunts
collected about 866,000 fallen stock each year. The
Exmoor Foxhounds, for instance, collected fallen stock
from some 250 farms and the Bedale Foxhounds
collected deadstock and casualty animals from at least
400 farmers. The amount of raw esh needed by each
hunt depended on the number of hounds: each year
the Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt collected 3500 head
of stock to support 40 couple of hounds, and the
Gelligaer Farmers’ Foxhounds handled about 20 cows
a month and 15 sheep a week to feed 35 couple of
Welsh foxhounds. In fact, hunts collected more carcases
than they needed as a service to farmers: the Cottesmore
Hunt, for example, collected about 60% more esh than
they required to feed their hounds. Despite the nancial
burden, the benet of having esh to feed their hounds
was such that hunts without incinerators paid to have
the waste taken away for disposal (Foxford, 1997).
Another report estimated that hunts were handling
an estimated 415,000 carcases, and the average hunt
kennel might dispose of 100 to 200 tonnes of waste
(bones, offal, etc.) per annum, with larger hunts disposing
of 400 tonnes or more per annum (Cobham Resource
Consultants, 1997). These wastes were collected by
renderers or incinerated at the kennels. Of the 264 hunt
kennels registered by MAFF in 1999 as collectors and
processors of fallen stock, 150 had their own incinerators
(Hunt, 2000).
In their submission to the Burns Inquiry, the Masters of
Foxhounds Association (MFHA) said that 89% (179/196)
of the recognised packs of fox and deer hounds were
collecting fallen stock (http://webarchive.national- A survey by
the Countryside Alliance found that, of the 318 packs
of bassets, beagles, fell hounds, foxhounds, harriers,
staghounds and minkhounds in England and Wales
registered in 2000, 200 collected 366,000 fallen stock
per annum i.e. an average of 1830 per hunt, and 80%
of hunts estimated that the demand from farmers was
rising, by up to 50% per annum. Of the 318 registered
hunts, 152 owned their own slaughter house and 145
their own incinerator. The 200 hunts spent £3.37 million
annually on collecting fallen stock, so average collection
expenditure was £18,000 per hunt and £9.20 per animal
In 2004 the Countryside Alliance said that the 143 UK
hunt kennels offering a fallen stock service processed
almost 500,000 carcases the previous year, and that
many hunts had recently upgraded their premises and
vehicles to ensure they meet the new higher biosecurity
standards necessary to be a part of a new national
scheme (
Thus, during the latter part of the last century and rst
part of this, there were a diversity of gures both on the
number of hunts collecting fallen stock, and the number
of fallen stock collected each year. The range of estimates
given over a period of around a decade is substantial,
with the highest gure 2.4 times larger than the lowest.
It is unclear whether, or why, the number of fallen stock
collected by hunts should have varied so much over this
period. However, it is clear that hunts were collecting a
substantial number of fallen stock each year to feed their
Number of fallen stock currently collected
by hunts
The number of hunts currently collecting fallen stock is
equally unclear. The European Commission requires that
approved animal by-product plants (these include any
hunts collecting fallen stock) are listed in thirteen sections
(Table 4). The list of approved premises issued by Defra
on 22nd September 2017 includes the majority of hunts
operating in Great Britain: basset hounds, beagles,
bloodhounds, buckhounds, draghounds, foxhounds,
gun packs, harriers, minkhounds and staghounds are
all on the list.
Table 4. Number of hunts on Defra’s list of approved
animal by-product plants in Great Britain issued on
22nd September 2017
Section Purpose No. of
Establishments or plants carrying out
intermediate activities and plants
storing animal by-products
III Incineration/co-incineration/
combustion plants 6
XSpecied users 252
XI Collection centres 143
XIII Other specied operators 7
Of the 252 hunts listed as specied users by Defra on
22nd September 2017 (
proved-premises), 27 were listed as users of category 1
ABPs. Of these three were listed as only using category
1 ABPs; the other 24 were listed as using other categories
as well. Most hunts (175) were listed as using category
2 ABPs and 105 were listed as using category 3 ABPs;
of these 53 were only using category 3 ABPs.
However, this list is not exhaustive because some packs
of hounds operated fallen stock services as separate
companies. For instance, the Dulverton East Foxhounds
were not on Defra’s 22nd September 2017 list of
approved animal by-product plants (
operating-plants-approved-premises), but the Dulverton
Farmers Fallen Stock Company Ltd operated from the
same address. Similarly, the Taunton Vale Foxhounds
were not included on Defra’s list but the Taunton Vale
Casualty Service was listed, with the same postcode as
the Taunton Vale Foxhounds kennels. A number of other
packs shared kennels but only one pack was included on
Defra’s list of approved animal by-product plants (Table
5), although it would seem likely that both packs had the
same feeding programme for their hounds and shared
fallen stock. Other packs included on Defra’s list of
approved animal by-product plants, such as the
Shropshire Beagles and Mink Hounds (presumably
the Border Counties Minkhounds), suggest that the
two hunts were operating a joint fallen stock collection
service. Thus the gures used in this report on the
number of packs feeding raw esh to their hounds
should be viewed as minima, although it is clear that
the vast majority of packs of hounds in the UK are still
fed, at least in part, on fallen stock (http://www.shooting
While the data suggest that the number of hunts that
rely on fallen stock to feed their hounds has not changed
signicantly over the last few decades, there is no
current information on the actual number of fallen
stock being processed by hunts. The Avon Vale Hunt,
for instance, takes the vast majority of fallen stock
within their hunt country (
avh-kennels/), and the Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent
Hunt collects 3500 carcases a year, mostly calves or
bullocks and horses (
Hounds.htm). For hunt staff, this continues to take up a
signicant part of their day (
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Table 5. Examples of packs of hounds believed to
share kennels but where only one pack was included on
Defra’s list of approved animal by-product plants issued
on 22nd September 2017 (
Hunt not included on
Defra’s list
Hunt included on
Defra’s list
Cheriton Hunt (minkhounds) Dulverton Farmers Hunt
Courtenay Tracy Hounds
South and West Wilts Hunt
Eastern Counties
Minkhounds Stour Valley Beagles
East Lincs Basset Hounds South Wold Hunt (foxhounds)
Exe Valley Buckhounds Taunton Vale Harriers
Four Shires Basset Hounds Old Berkeley Beagles
Hunsley Beacon Beagles Holderness Hunt (foxhounds)
Leadon Vale Basset Hounds
Three Counties Mink Hounds
Croome and West
Warwickshire Foxhounds
North Bucks Beagles Oakley Hunt (foxhounds)
North Warwickshire Beagles Atherstone Hunt (foxhounds)
Per Ardua Beagles South Notts Hunt (foxhounds)
Severn Vale Beagles Berkeley Hunt (foxhounds)
Taunton Vale Foxhounds Ilminster Beagles
Wyre Forest Beagles North Herefordshire Hunt
Since most hunts appear to be operating much as
before the Hunting Act 2004 came into effect, it seems
reasonable to assume that the number of fallen stock
required by hunts is still in the hundreds of thousands
and is therefore a substantial proportion of all fallen
stock. A survey of fallen stock undertaken by the State
Veterinary Service in 1998 found that around 55% of
calves, 35% of adult bovines, 25% of sheep and goats,
and 10% of pigs and lambs were disposed of through
hunt kennels (
htm). In 2003, when burying fallen stock was banned in
EU member states, fallen stock comprised 1.3 million
adult cattle, sheep, pigs and horses and more than 2.6
million immature animals, as well as poultry (http://www.
Transport of fallen stock
Owners can arrange for fallen stock to be collected or
deliver it themselves to an approved site (https://www.;
fallenstock). Collection is generally more expensive than
delivering a carcase e.g. the Barlow (http://www.barlow-, the Curre
& Llangibby (
fallenstockservice.html) and South Shropshire (http://
hunts. Other hunts, such as the Ludlow Hunt, do not
collect fallen stock and rely on it being delivered to
their kennel for processing and onward dispatch to the
renderers for nal disposal (http://www.ludlowhunt.
Whether fallen stock is collected or delivered, Article 21
of EU Animal By-Products Regulation (1069/2009) sets
out the requirements for collection and identication
of ABPs. Detailed implementing rules are contained
in Annex VIII of Regulation (EC) 142/2011. ABPs must
be transported in sealed new packaging or covered
leak-proof containers or vehicles. Containers must be
dedicated to the use of specic categories of ABPs and,
where they are not, they must be cleaned and disinfected
after each use to prevent cross contamination. Article
22 of EU Animal By-Products Regulation (1069/2009)
requires that records are kept of any carcases that are
sent for disposal, and Article 21 requires that, during
transportation, carcases are accompanied by a com-
mercial document or, in certain circumstances, a health
certicate. The commercial document must record: the
date on which the material is taken from the premises; a
description of the material; the quantity of the material,
in weight or volume; the place of origin of the material;
the name and address of the transporter; the name and
address of the receiver and its approval or registration
number if appropriate; and the approval or registration
number of the plant of origin if appropriate (www.defra.
NFSCo stresses that it is particularly important that
biosecurity guidelines are followed because disease is
not always apparent in fallen stock and so there is a real
risk of collectors transferring diseases between farms.
For this reason, collectors and scheme members are
required to adhere to NFSCo’s biosecurity guidance
as well as any biosecurity procedures required by the
local authorities (
guidance.php); see Box 6. It is unclear what biosecurity
guidance is given to hunt kennelmen and others who
collect fallen stock for hunts, or to farmers who arrange
to deliver fallen stock to hunt kennels.
Box 6. Some of the biosecurity guidance issued by
the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) to prevent
disease being spread between farms when fallen
stock are being collected (
Farmers wishing to deliver their own fallen stock to a collection
centre must:-
(a) make arrangements in advance, with the collector for the
receipt of the fallen stock. It is at the collection centre’s
discretion whether to accept material in this way
(b) transport their own fallen stock only
(c) use a vehicle/trailer which is clean, fully enclosed (a exible
sheet roof is acceptable) and sealed to avoid any loss of uids
while in transit
(d) cleanse and disinfect their vehicle, particularly the load
section used to carry the fallen stock, after every such
delivery. The farmer should consider carrying out this
cleansing before returning to the farm, to minimise any
risk of introducing disease back onto the farm
Guidance for collectors includes the following:-
Vehicles must comply with the relevant provisions of the
Animal By-Product Regulation(s) and any additional local byelaws
when collecting and transporting carcases. Fallen stock must be
transported in a vehicle that is lined with impervious easily
cleaned material and, where appropriate, that is equipped with an
adequate sized tank to collect all blood and liquids released from
the carcass …. The vehicle and/or container(s) used must have,
where applicable, a secure door and sealed cover. A exible
sheet roof is acceptable provided it is secure, impermeable, easy
to clean, tight tting and vermin proof and prevents the escape
of liquids …. Before arrival at each and every farm, collectors
must ensure that the outside of vehicles or trailers used to collect
dead stock are cleansed and disinfected to the same standards
required by the Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection)
(England) Order 2003 and its equivalent in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland before the vehicle enters any premises. The
inside and outside of the vehicle and fallen stock part of
the vehicle or trailer must also be thoroughly cleansed and
disinfected before the rst pick up of the day …. Before collectors
leave the premises they must cleanse and disinfect vehicles of
all visible contamination with manure, slurry or similar material
(including where appropriate, cleaning of the inside of vehicles,
especially foot wells and pedals). If this is not possible, the outside
of the vehicles and trailers must be cleansed and disinfected
before they are taken onto another premises with farm animals.
This may mean returning direct to the approved collection/
disposal premises for a full clean-down before making another
It should go without saying that equipment contaminated
with mucus, faeces and blood from fallen stock is likely
to harbour infectious organisms (Caldow et al., 1998;
Brennan et al., 2008; Brennan & Christley, 2012), and
that the movement of vehicles and personnel used to
collect fallen stock between farms poses a signicant risk
of disease transmission. However, a number of studies
have highlighted that dead stock collection is one of the
areas where biosecurity measures are weakest. Despite
all the biosecurity advice to the contrary, fallen stock
collectors often park their vehicles in areas where stock
have access (Brennan et al., 2008; Brennan & Christley,
2012) and, of all the different farm visitors likely to park
in animal areas, fallen stock collectors were least likely
to disinfect themselves and their vehicles after visiting
areas where stock had access. Thus fallen stock collectors
pose a high risk of spreading disease (Brennan et al.,
2008; Brennan & Christley, 2012).
The instructions given to hunt staff and vehicles
collecting fallen stock are unclear: in a volume celebrating
British eld sports, the advice given to people seeking
a career in hunt service was simply to remember that
the van [used to collect fallen stock] will want washing
out as well or it will harbour ies and then maggots
(Jones, 1989).
The majority of the packs of hounds in Britain collect
and/or receive fallen stock to feed to their hounds
as raw esh, although the exact number of hunts
involved, and the number of fallen stock collected,
is unclear. Several hundred-thousand fallen stock are
used to feed hounds each year, and these constitute
a substantial proportion of all fallen stock. While there
are strict rules governing the collection and transport
of fallen stock, fallen stock collectors are the farm
visitors least likely to follow basic biosecurity rules
or disinfect themselves and their vehicles, and so
pose a signicant risk of spreading livestock diseases
between farms
The risks of using fallen stock
as animal feed
Causes of death of fallen stock
There is no national system for monitoring causes of
death in fallen stock, even though this can be a valuable
source of surveillance information on diseases in farm
stock (Alba et al., 2015; Oliver, 2017). In the absence of
routine post mortems, the limited information available
on causes of death of fallen stock comes from statutory
surveillance schemes and voluntary collection, but these
sources of data have limitations, both with regard to
their reliability and how representative they are (SHAWG,
2017). There are a few short-term studies of causes of
death for fallen stock. For instance, cause of death could
be determined for 74 of 106 ewes from north-east
England: eight had acute fascioliasis, seven Pasteurella-type
bronchopneumonia, six Johne’s disease, six ovine pulmonary
adenocarcinoma, two chronic fascioliasis, two Salmonella
and two parasitic gastroenteritis, among other diagnoses
(Lovatt & Strugnell, 2013). Between March 2014 and
March 2016 The Fallen Stock Project examined 2472
carcases from 1053 beef and sheep farms from northern
England (Box 7). This project identied literally hundreds
of causes of death for fallen stock, many of which can be
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
transmitted to animals and/or humans (http://www.beef
Box 7. Some of the causes of death identied by The
Fallen Stock Project in 2472 carcases from 1053 beef
and sheep farms from northern England (SHAWG, 2017)
Over one in ve lambs submitted died from a parasitic
infection when combining deaths due to coccidiosis,
Nematodirus and other parasitic worms. Johne’s disease
(paratuberculosis) was found in 6.8%
There were over a hundred different diagnoses from 416 calf
carcases, with pneumonia accounting for over 30% of diagnoses
Of 259 cattle between six and 24 months old, pneumonia
accounted for 21% of all diagnoses, clostridial disease for 18%
and lungworm for 3.9%
The 206 suckler cows had over 80 different causes of death;
Johne’s disease was the biggest single cause
Other than these limited studies, the cause of death for
most fallen stock is rarely identied, even though most
hunts that collect fallen stock are feeding category 2
ABPs to their hounds. However, the regulations on
collecting and treating animal by-products at collection
centres state that category 2 ABPs must come from
animals which did not die as a result of a disease that
could infect animals or humans (
at-collection-centres). It is impossible to know whether
the animals fed to hounds as category 2 ABPs died as a
result of a transmissible disease without a routine post
mortem of all fallen stock.
So, contrary to the regulations, in the UK hounds are
routinely fed raw carcases and offal from fallen stock
that died of diseases that can infect both animals and
Should hounds be fed on fallen stock?
The disease risks associated with feeding hounds on
fallen stock have long been recognised. A quarter of
a century ago, on 3rd March 1992, Alan Meale MP
presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill to prohibit dogs being
fed on raw meat and offal derived from fallen or casualty
farm animals to control hydatidosis. When introducing
his Bill, Alan Meale MP said that dogs fed on raw meat
and offal from fallen livestock are a major source of a
disease that not only costs the farm and meat industries
millions of pounds, but annually kills people and puts
hundreds in hospital for surgery (https://publications.
Nearly 20 years ago the EU’s Scientic Steering Committee
(SSC) recommended that, if the reasons an animal
died or was sacriced is unknown or has been shown
to involve a hazardous, chemical or biological agent,
the fallen stock or suspect condemned material should
be disposed of in such a way that any processing into
human or animal consumption products is avoided (EU
Scientic Steering Committee, 1999). While the SSC
considered it highly desirable that member states had a
monitoring system to ensure that only fallen stock and
condemned material of proper quality are recycled in
feed, they recognised that it is not practical to have a
reliable systematic identication of the cause of death
or a determination of the type and level of toxic or
infectious substances present in fallen stock on an
animal-by-animal basis, which would be required
before feeding raw esh from fallen stock to hounds.
The SSC was also concerned about the potential for
post slaughter infection or contamination of low risk
material as a consequence of handling, transport and/
or storage. For these reasons they proposed that none
of the material from dead animals that died of non-
speciable causes should be used as animal feed except
after appropriate sourcing and processing. For processing,
the SSC recommended that the most appropriate
method for inactivating the infectivity of the most heat-
resistant conventional infectious agents was a standard
of at least 133°C/20’/3bars (a hyperbaric production
process at a temperature of not less than 133°C over
a period of not less than 20 minutes, at a pressure of
not less than 3 bars, without air entrapped in the
sterilising chamber), or a validated equivalent method.
In the absence of information on the risk of transmission
of conventional and non-conventional infectious agents
by hounds and working dogs, the SSC said that the feed
for hounds used for hunting should comply with the
same safety standards as for farmed animals intended
for human consumption (EU Scientic Steering Committee,
While post mortems of fallen stock are not routine,
the limited data available suggest that diseases
that can be transmitted to hounds and humans are
frequent causes of death. Despite the health risks,
and the requirement that category 2 ABPs must come
from animals which did not die as a result of a disease
that could infect animals or humans, hunts routinely
feed their hounds with fallen stock that has died of
a variety of diseases
The main diseases spread by
dogs to livestock
There is a signicant risk of transmission of infectious
diseases between dogs that walk or work on farmland,
and livestock. These diseases threaten livestock health,
welfare and productivity (
uploads/2016/03/Dogs-livestock.pdf). Some of the
more important diseases spread by dogs to livestock are
outlined below: other diseases are discussed on pages
44 and 45.
Companion animals
The main concern in urban areas is the role dogs play in
human toxocariasis. Disease is caused by the migrating
larval stages of Toxocara canis and, less frequently,
Toxocara cati (Fisher, 2003). Humans are infected with
Toxocara canis by the accidental ingestion of infective
embryonated eggs present in contaminated soil,
unwashed hands after stroking dogs or from raw
vegetables. In humans, Toxocara larvae fail to mature
to adult worms and clinical manifestations of human
toxocariasis vary from asymptomatic infection to severe
organ injury, depending on the parasite load, the sites
of larval migration and the host’s inammatory response
(Elsheikha, 2013).
Human toxocariasis is a potentially serious infection,
although the exact number of incidences in humans is
unclear. In the 1990s approximately 100 cases were
diagnosed each year, with 50 having serious eye damage.
Nearly all were children, and about half of the most
serious cases of toxocariasis occurred in families who
had never owned a dog or a cat (EnCams, 2003). A
survey of dog owners found that 54% had neither
bought nor used worming tablets on their pets (www.
However, worming a dog will not eradicate Toxocara
canis unless they are wormed regularly (EnCams, 2003).
In rural areas the main concerns are neosporosis and
sarcocystosis. Neosporosis is caused by Neospora
caninum, a coccidian parasite rst detected in dogs
in the mid 1980s. In the early 1990s it was conrmed
as a major cause of abortion or still-birth in dairy and
beef cattle; infected cattle are 37 times more likely to
abort than uninfected cattle (www.knowledgescotland.
org/briengs.php?id=288). Sarcocystosis is caused by
protozoan parasites of the genus Sarcocystis: there are a
number of intermediate hosts including dogs, and it can
cause neurological disease and death in sheep (https://
halves-dog-fouling-farmland). While other parasites
can be spread to livestock from the faeces of pet dogs,
neosporosis and sarcocystis are of particular concern
because there are no licensed vaccines or drugs for
these diseases and because of their economic impact
on farming (
There is a signicant risk of diseases being passed between hounds and horses
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Naïve cows grazing on pasture contaminated with dog
faeces are susceptible to infection with Neospora, and
an abortion storm can follow when a farm is infected
for the rst time. Once a cattle herd is infected with
neosporosis, it can persist within the herd due to the
vertical transmission between cows and calves, but there
is no lateral transmission between cattle in the herd.
The disease is on the increase in the UK; 17% of dairy
cattle were exposed to the parasite in England, 90% of
dairy herds in south-west England showed evidence of
previous infection, and bulk testing of around 500 British
dairy herds in 2012 suggested levels of 51%. Financial
modelling predicts that the cost of Neospora in an
average 121 cow herd is around £3,000 per year due
to increased abortion rates in infected cows, premature
culling and reduced milk yields.
Neospora can be picked up by dogs eating contaminated
livestock material, such as placentas from newly calved
cows, or by being fed contaminated raw meat. A survey
on bovine abortion samples across Scotland (n=611)
found that nearly 20% were positive for Neospora (www.ngs.php?id=288). Oocysts
are very stable in the environment and stay infective
for six months or longer in temperate conditions. An
effective biosecurity plan is essential in putting a stop
to infection from dogs: this includes controlling access
of dogs to areas where cattle feed is kept, where cattle
graze and where water run-off could wash dog faeces
into drinking water (
Sarcocystosis is generally regarded as less of a problem
than neosporosis, but can cause signicant losses for
sheep farmers because sarcocysts on a carcase can
result in it being condemned. Dogs pick up the parasite
by eating contaminated carcases or by being fed
contaminated raw sheep meat. Faeces from infected
dogs can contaminate pasture and potentially animal
feed, water or bedding. As with neosporosis, the best
way to address the problem is to introduce management
practices that minimise the risk of infection. These
include prompt removal of carcases, placentas and
still-births to limit the spread of disease by dogs and
foxes and not feeding dogs on raw meat (http://www.les//docs/
Hounds and hunting dogs
Other than occasional case studies, there is little
detailed information on the diseases of working hounds
because many breeders believe that veterinary care,
including routine veterinary treatment, reduces their
ability to select the healthiest hounds. Also, sick hounds
Otterhounds pose a particular risk of spreading pathogens to water sources
are often culled because of the potential veterinary costs
of treatment, especially with large numbers of animals
(von Recum, 2002). There is also considerable reticence
among hunt staff to admit to any health problems
among their animals (Palmer et al., 1984), so hounds
no longer able to hunt are generally culled without
establishing their underlying health issues.
The Countryside Alliance estimated that the packs
of foxhounds registered with the MFHA put down
about 3000 hounds a year (Burns et al., 2000); this
gure did not include hounds in other types of packs
or unregistered hunts. So a reasonable estimate might
be that over 4000 working hounds were being culled
each year because they were no longer able to hunt
with the rest of the pack. According to one ex-huntsman,
with a pack of 60 foxhounds, eight to ten (13-17%)
are disposed of every season, generally when they are
older than ve or six years and past their prime (www.
fox-hunting/). In their evidence to the Burns Inquiry,
the Countryside Alliance said that it is a common, but
not universal, practice for hounds belonging to the
registered packs to be put down after some six or
seven years’ hunting, when they are considered to have
reached the end of their working lives. Hounds typically
start hunting when around 18 months old, so these
hounds will have been culled when 7.5 to 8.5 years old.
The average age of 52 foxhounds culled in Ireland
was 6.5 years, with a range of 1.5 to 12 years (Jahns
et al., 2011). So it would appear that most foxhounds
are culled when around half to two-thirds of their life
expectancy of around 11 years (Fogle, 2000).
Despite the large number of hounds being euthanized
each year, the only detailed analysis of the health of
hunting hounds in Britain and Ireland is a study of 52
culled hounds (42 foxhounds, 10 beagles) from ten Irish
hunting kennels. No reason was given for culling 15 of
the hounds, 10 were culled for behavioural changes, 10
for being too slow, 6 for being too old, 4 for chronic skin
disease, 4 for clinical disease and 3 for lameness (Jahns
et al., 2011).
Nine (17%) of the 52 randomly-selected hounds included
in the Irish study had debilitating, progressive, potentially
fatal diseases, including one case of bovine tuberculosis
(bTB). Worryingly, most of these animals were culled for
other reasons and the case of bTB would not have been
detected if that particular hound had not been included
in the study (Jahns et al., 2011). This strongly suggests
that large numbers of other cases of diseases in working
hounds go undetected, because the hounds are simply
culled and disposed of when they are no longer able to
hunt with the rest of the pack.
The report of bTB in one of the 52 hounds examined
post mortem is particularly interesting since bTB is a
rare disease in dogs, although there have been
occasional reports in working terriers involved in
ghts with badgers (van der Burgt et al., 2009).
Before they identied bTB in the culled foxhound, the
Department of Veterinary Pathology University College
Dublin in Ireland had only diagnosed the disease in
dogs twice in the previous decade, despite the relatively
high prevalence of infection in Irish cattle and spill over
into some wildlife species (
brucellosiseradicationschemes/; Jahns et al., 2011).
In the UK, bTB is rarely recorded in dogs (https://www.
Only eight cases were diagnosed in dogs from 1993
to 2009 (van der Burgt et al., 2009), and these were
invariably isolated cases (Greene & Gunn-Moore, 1998;
Bauer et al., 2004). Thus the number of hounds infected
with bTB at the Kimblewick Hunt is particular remarkable
(Table 6). From December 2016, 25 foxhounds were
identied as being infected with bTB and destroyed;
while the number of hounds involved has still to be
conrmed (Anon, 2017c), anecdotal reports suggest
that the number culled was even higher (e.g.
uk_58bfe512e4b0d1078ca25a6b). On 28th February
2017 the MFHA said that there would be an update on
the situation when more information became available
hound-health); a year after the event no further details
have been released.
It remains unclear how so many hounds became infected
with bTB, or for how long the disease had remained
undetected in the pack. The case in Ireland, where the
Packs of hounds pose a particular risk to livestock farmers because of the large number of free-running dogs
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
disease was only detected by chance at post mortem
(Jahns et al., 2011), suggests that this could have been
for some time. Following conrmation of bTB in the
Kimblewick hounds, there was no further contact
between the Hunt’s hounds and other packs, but
apparently there had been contact with other hunts
prior to this, when the Kimblewick hounds were likely
to have been infected with bTB, and may have been
infectious. A monitoring and testing protocol was
implemented across the country (Anon., 2017c),
presumably to look for spread of bTB to other packs
of hounds, since inhaling aerosols from infected animals
is a common route of infection (
domestic-pets). The results of this monitoring programme
are yet to be announced.
While it is most likely that the original source of infection
for the Kimblewick Hunt’s foxhounds was an infected
carcase, it is unclear whether all the hounds were
infected by eating contaminated meat and/or offal,
or whether some hounds were infected by lateral
transmission in the kennels. Ingestion of infected meat
and breathing in aerosols from close contact with
infected animals are both potential routes of infection
tuberculosis-tb-in-domestic-pets). Hunts house large
numbers of hounds together (over 100 in the larger
hunts), and so high levels of kennel hygiene are required
to prevent disease transfer within packs of hounds.
After the cases of bTB in the Kimblewick Hunt’s hounds
were made public, LACS sent trained investigators to the
kennels. They reported that, For a property that was the
centre of a bTB outbreak, biosecurity measures seemed
lapse to say the least. A couple of biohazard signs stood
in the yard, where animal carcasses lay freely, with dogs
wandering around them. There was no cordon, and no
vehicle disinfectant measures to be seen, in spite of a
vehicle being witnessed arriving back at the property
Assuming that the Irish study (Jahns et al., 2011) is
representative, 13-17% of the hounds culled in Britain
each year will be infected with debilitating, progressive,
potentially fatal diseases that could be transferred to
other members of the pack, livestock and/or people.
So with around 4000 working hounds being culled in
Britain each year, between 520 and 680 of these hounds
will have been infected with a variety of diseases.
However, these went undiagnosed because the hounds
were culled for reasons such as being too slow, which in
itself may well reect some underlying disease or other
ill-health problem. The limited data available suggests
that ill-health has always been an underlying factor that
determines whether a hound is culled: the 125 hounds
examined post mortem as part of a study into equine
hydatidosis were put down because of old age, sickness,
or wilfulness; what constituted sickness was not reported
(Thompson & Smyth, 1975).
Despite the paucity of quantied information, a wide
range of diseases have been reported in hounds in
Britain and Ireland, including notiable diseases (Table
3) and potential zoonoses; some examples are listed in
Table 6.
The Kimblewick Hunt on 25th February 2017 after at least 25 hounds had been destroyed because they had bTB. The sign in the
yard says Biosecurity Measure – ALL farmers please spray wheels and Biosecurity Measure – Please dip your feet in and out of
Kennels. This is a long way short of basic biosecurity advice
Table 6. Examples of parasites and diseases recorded in packs of hounds in Britain and Ireland
Parasite/disease History Source
Anthrax The hounds of the Staintondale Hunt were being monitored after being
fed half the carcase of a cow that had died of anthrax: the kennels were
under Police supervision
An outbreak of anthrax in a pack of hounds at Kennet, Suffolk was
attributed to feeding them raw meat from a Jersey cow that had died of
Hull Daily Mail, 9 March 1936
Davies et al. (1957)
Of a pack of 51 harriers in south-west England, 11 died of Aujeszky’s
disease after eating pig carcases
In 1983, 24 of 72 foxhounds in a pack near Lincoln died of Aujesky’s
disease, or were euthanized when the symptoms became too severe,
after being fed pig meat
Two foxhounds in a pack of 27 in the Irish Republic died of Aujeszky’s
disease ve days after eating uncooked pigs’ offal
Gore et al. (1977)
Murdoch (1990)
Fagan (1990)
Botulism An outbreak of acute paralysis in a pack of foxhounds was almost certainly
due to botulism type C originating from raw and partially cooked meat
Darke et al. (1976)
Before the BSE regulations came into effect (page 22), there were several
cases of packs with hounds suffering from what was described at the time
as ataxia (an impaired ability to coordinate movement, often characterized
by a staggering gait and postural imbalance); these cases were associated
with eating cattle paunches
There is historical evidence to suggest that the condition occurred in one
kennel of foxhounds in the early 1930s
The problem was recognised in seven harriers and two beagles in the late
1970s; the condition became so severe that up to 75 per cent of animals
were lost before 7 years of age
Ataxia was described in seven foxhounds (from three hunts), seven
harriers from one hunt, and two beagles from one hunt, all in England,
aged from 2 to 7 years. The beagles were kennelled with foxhounds and
otterhounds. Of 36 hounds in that pack, 60% were eventually affected
A similar condition was diagnosed in 12 foxhounds (from two packs) and
two harriers from one pack, age range 3 to 6 years. No further cases
were observed when the hounds were fed raw meat rather than ruminant
In 1991 scientists at the Central Veterinary Laboratory and the Veterinary
Investigation Service examined the brains of 444 hunting hounds to
investigate the cause of ataxia. Scrapie associated brils were found in
some of the hounds, which were lagging behind the rest of the pack and
not doing very well. The hounds were assumed to have picked up the
infective agent before September 1990 when the SBOs thought to carry
BSE were banned; no further work was undertaken to conrm the link
with BSE
Palmer et al. (1984)
Palmer & Medd (1981)
Palmer et al. (1984)
Sheahan et al. (1991)
disease-1269772.html; http://
Of 52 culled hounds in Ireland (42 foxhounds, 10 beagles), one had
bovine tuberculosis, contracted from being fed carcase material from an
infected cow or from infected materials when out hunting
In 2016 and 2017 25 hounds belonging to the Kimblewick Hunt were
euthanized following infection with bTB, thought to have been contracted
by eating a contaminated bovine carcase
Jahns et al. (2011)
Bucks Herald, 9 March 2017
A man employed as a kennelman with three packs of foxhound in
Gloucestershire and Wiltshire from 1980-2001 had a 7.5 cm hydatid cyst
surgically removed from his liver; he regularly fed the hounds with raw
meat, liver and lungs from sheep, cattle and horses (normally fallen stock)
Craig et al. (2012)
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Parasite/disease History Source
Distemper Distemper was rst described in 1809 by Edward Jenner in the Earl of
Berkeley’s foxhounds
Distemper was such a widespread problem for packs of hounds that a
publicly-funded campaign in Britain between 1922 and 1933 successfully
developed a canine distemper vaccine. It was coordinated by The Field
Distemper Fund and spearheaded by landed patricians, whose key aim
was to preserve foxhunting
Bresalier & Worboys (2014)
High level of hydatid infection in hunters, as opposed to thoroughbred
horses of similar age, was attributed to hunters grazing pastures frequent-
ed by infected foxhounds, whereas thoroughbreds usually grazed pastures
where dogs were excluded
Cranley (1984)
Equine inuenza
A virus H3N8
In September 2002 an outbreak of severe respiratory disease in a pack
of 92 foxhounds was caused by equine inuenza A virus; one died and
six were euthanized. A retrospective analysis suggested that this was not
the only incident of equine inuenza to have infected foxhounds in the
UK. While the infected hounds could have been infected by aerosols
from nearby horses, the week before they had been fed the carcases
of two recently euthanized horses and may have inhaled virus while
consuming raw lung material.
In another case the foxhounds may have been infected with equine
inuenza while being transported in the same vehicle as horses. Dogs
kept in close contact with horses in Australia were also infected during
an equine inuenza outbreak
Daly et al. (2008, 2010)
Newton et al. (2007);
Kirkland et al. (2010)
Farmers called on the North and South Cheshire hounds to stop
cub-hunting because there had been a dramatic increase in the number
of FMD cases after the hunt started cub-hunting four days a week
Derby Daily Telegraph,
13 October 1883
Hydatid disease A survey of 121 hunting dogs, mostly foxhounds, from 21 kennels found
28.8% were infected with Echinococcus granulosus; an alarming increase
in hydatid disease in horses was believed to be due to the increased use
of raw meat and offal to feed hounds after the Second World War
Thompson & Smyth (1974)
In the UK, foxhounds are routinely fed bovine carcases and have a higher
prevalence of Neospora caninum antibodies than pet dogs, and infected
foxhounds can excrete oocysts for extended periods
Hemphill et al. (2000);
McGarry et al. (2003)
(cattle plague)
There was a major outbreak of rinderpest in Britain from 1865-1867,
and tenants and landowners in the area hunted by the Duke of Grafton’s
Hounds met at Towcester to discuss whether the hunt should continue to
operate on their land in view of the potential risk of spreading the disease.
Rinderpest was last recorded in Britain in 1877 and the virus was declared
eradicated worldwide in 2011, although it remains a notiable disease in
the UK
Northampton Mercury,
3 February 1866
Salmonella montevideo causes abortion in sheep. 50 of 61 foxhounds in
Scotland were infected (and two aborted) after three hounds had been
lost during a day’s hunting and fed on dead ewes and aborted foetuses on
a farm with an infected ewe ock before being found by the huntsman
Caldow & Graham (1998)
Sarcoptic mange The North East Cheshire Drag Hunt’s entire pack of 29 foxhounds were so
badly infected with mange (presumably sarcoptic mange) that they were
due for destruction
Five culled hounds with chronic dermatitis were from a kennel that had
suffered problems with sarcoptic mange in the previous years
Daily Mirror, 4 May 1971
Jahns et al. (2011)
Despite the absence of quantied studies into the
diseases of hounds in Britain, these case studies highlight
a number of consistent themes: infections, including
notiable diseases and zoonoses, are transmitted from
livestock to hounds by eating raw meat; diseases are
transmitted between hounds in kennels because of the
large number of animals housed together; diseases are
passed from horses to hounds housed and/or transported
in close proximity; diseases passed from foxhounds to
kennel workers can remain undetected for extended
periods; and hounds contaminating pasture with faeces
poses a disease risk to livestock.
In addition to posing a signicant risk to livestock, there
are also risks to hounds from repeatedly using the same
elds or paddocks. Six or seven couple of foxhounds in
one British hunt had severely inamed feet because their
grass yard was contaminated with faeces and eggs from
the hookworm Uncinaria stenocephala. The larvae had
burrowed into the feet of the hounds, causing severe
inammation and secondary infections (Barker, 2010b).
The MFHA of America highlights the risk of disease
accumulation on elds heavily used by packs of hounds
and warns that, if they are used, they must be regularly
cleansed of faeces (Foster & Wood, 2015).
Many of the risk factors associated with the spread of
disease have long been recognised. In the Livre de
chasse, written between 1387 and 1389, Gaston Phébus
warned against feeding hounds from the carcase of a
wild boar. This book became the standard textbook on
mediaeval hunting techniques. More recently, several
pieces of British legislation have recognised the role of
hunting with hounds in spreading disease. The Cattle
Plague Order 1928 as amended and the Rabies (Control)
Order 1974 conferred wide-ranging powers to deal
with any outbreak of rinderpest and rabies respectively,
including banning hunting with hounds. From 23rd
February to 17th December 2001, the Foot-and-Mouth
Disease Declaratory (Controlled Area) Order 2001
banned all hunting with hounds in Britain because of
the risks that hounds would spread FMD to new areas
of Britain. From 17th December 2001, some packs of
hounds were licensed to hunt in FMD-free areas, and
from 11th February 2002 any hunt could be licensed
so long as certain restrictions were observed (Baker
et al., 2002).
Keeping large numbers of hounds together facilitates
disease spread
The role of hounds in spreading equine
The best quantied information on the role that packs
of British hounds play in the spread of disease is for
hydatidosis. Equine hydatidosis (caused by Echinococcus
equinus) and ovine hydatidosis (caused by Echinococcus
granulosus) are endemic in the UK, maintained respectively
in horse/foxhound and sheep/dog transmission cycles
(Thompson & Smyth, 1974).
Before the Second World War, equine echinococcosis
was rare in Great Britain (Southwell, 1927). In the 1940s,
the disease was still uncommon and localised (Thompson
& Smyth, 1974). However, by the 1960s 45% of 349
horses from across England and Wales were infected
(Cook, 1965). In the early 1970s, 61.7% of 2133
slaughtered horses were infected (Dixon et al., 1973),
and prevalence rates at several slaughterhouses ranged
from 35 to 60% (Thompson & Smyth, 1975).
To determine the role of packs of hounds in spreading
the disease, 125 hounds (120 foxhounds, four basset
hounds and one beagle) from 21 hunts were examined
post mortem for Echinococcus equinus; 36 (28.8%) were
infected. Of the 21 hunts, 11 (52.4%) harboured infected
hounds. The rise in horse hydatidosis was believed to be
due to an increase in feeding raw meat and offal, including
horse offal, to hunting dogs following the Second World
War, and there was a clear link between infection and
feeding raw meat. Of the 21 hunts, all 11 infected hunts
fed raw horse offal to their hounds (Thompson & Smyth,
1975). While the Meat (Sterilization) Regulations 1969
prevented hunt kennels from getting raw meat from a
knacker’s yard, they were still able to obtain fallen stock
or casualty animals directly from farmers. The continued
widespread distribution of hydatid tapeworms in foxhounds
through the 1970s was conclusive evidence of loopholes
in the Meat (Sterilization) Regulations 1969 (Williams, 1982).
Other risk factors identied as contributing to the rapid
increase in the prevalence and distribution of equine
hydatidosis were: the widespread distribution of hunts,
and the large number of hounds, which enabled them
to spread infective ova on grazing land over wide areas;
hunt’s horses were normally exercised in the same eld
or paddock as the hounds; and housing hounds and
horses in close proximity (Thompson & Smyth, 1974,
Thompson (2008) suggested that a decline in horse
infection may follow the introduction of the Hunting
Act (2004) because this may reduce the widespread
contamination of grazing land by infected hounds.
However, while the Hunting Act 2004 changed hunting
practices, changes in the number of hunts or the areas
they covered were relatively minor. A study in 2010 and
2011 found that 25.5% of the foxhound faecal samples
from eight packs of foxhounds (three in England, ve in
Wales) were coproantigen ELISA positive (25.5%),
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
with coproantigen prevalence of Echinococcus infection
particularly high in hunts that fed their hounds on raw
meat e.g. 22/71 (30.9%) and 30/49 (61.2%) faecal
samples in two Welsh packs and 28/63 (44.4%) and
10/57 (17.5%) faecal samples from two English packs.
The study concluded that foxhounds still played a
signicant role in the transmission of Echinococcus
equinus (Lett, 2013).
The role of hounds in spreading ovine
hydatidosis and other tapeworms
Ovine hydatidosis is more localised than equine
hydatidosis, being primarily restricted to Wales and the
bordering areas, and the Hebridean Islands in Scotland
(Boufana et al., 2015). While it represents a signicant
public health risk, its control is not well addressed by
national and international authorities (Lembo et al.,
In the 1970s, tapeworms were found in 381 (69%) of 552
foxhounds in 12 packs in Dyfed. Two packs (72 hounds)
were cestode free. Of the dog/sheep species of tapeworm,
the most common was Taenia hydatigena, found in
270 (49%) foxhounds in ten packs. Echinococcus
granulosus was found in 162 (29%) foxhounds in eight
packs, Taenia multiceps in 41 (7.5%) hounds in four
packs, and Taenia ovis in 32 (6%) hounds in six packs.
Of the dog/rodent species, Taenia pisiformis was found
in 53 (10%) hounds in three packs, and Taenia serialis in
six (1%) hounds in two packs. Dipylidium caninum was
found in 24 (5%) hounds in two packs. Although
Dipylidium caninum is usually the most common tapeworm
in dogs, the low incidence in these foxhounds may have
been due to the practice of bathing hounds frequently
to control mange. This would also have reduced the
numbers of dog eas, Ctenocephalides canis, the
intermediate host of this cestode (Williams, 1976a).
This study also highlighted the relationship between
cestode infection and diet in foxhounds. The two packs
free of cestodes were not fed sheep meat or offal, nor
were they fed raw offal from cattle and horses. On those
rare occasions when offal from cattle and horses had to
be fed, it was boiled rst. The other packs were fed a
variety of meat and offal when available, and for three
of these packs sheep carcases were the major source of
protein. In a pack fed the carcases, including the heads,
of 20 sheep showing signs of ‘gid’ (caused by the larval
stage of Taenia multiceps) during the previous three
to four months, 20% of the hounds were infected with
adult Taenia multiceps. Regular anthelmintic treatment
at three-monthly intervals was practised in the two
cestode-free packs, whereas treatment of the hounds in
the other packs was irregular, and they were usually only
treated when tapeworm segments were observed in
their faeces.
In the 1980s foxhounds continued to show high prevalence
levels for Echinococcus granulosus and other tapeworms
that posed disease risks to livestock. Cestodes were
found in 129 of 875 foxhounds (14.7%) from 20 packs in
Powys, mid-Wales, sampled from 1983-1988: Taenia
hydatigena was found in 57 hounds (6.5%), Echinococcus
granulosus in 27 (3.1%), Dipylidium caninum in 25
(2.9%), Taenia ovis in 14 (1.6%), Taenia pisiformis in 10
(1.1%), Taenia serialis in ve (0.6%) and Taenia multiceps
in four (0.5%) (Jones & Walters, 1992a). Slightly higher
prevalence rates were found in dogs from 315 farms in
the area: 161 out of 882 (18.3%) had cestodes (Jones
& Walters, 1992b), whereas the lowest prevalence rates
were in wild foxes: 22 out of 197 (11.2%) had cestodes
(Jones & Walters, 1992a).
Another study of foxhounds and gundogs in Clwyd,
Wales found that 47 of 162 foxhounds (29%) and six of
25 gundogs (24%) were infested with cestodes.
Various species of Taenia were found in both groups
of dogs, with Taenia hydatigena being most common.
Echinococcus granulosus and Dipylidium caninum were
only found in the foxhounds. There was a close
relationship between diet, worming procedures and
cestode infestation, again highlighting the particularly
important role foxhounds play in the life-cycle of
cestodes because their diet frequently includes uncooked
carcases and because they hunt over large areas of
countryside, facilitating the widespread dissemination
of infective eggs (Stallbaumer, 1987).
A review of 100 published studies from a wide range
of countries highlighted that the epidemiological
factors associated with an increased risk of Echinococcus
granulosus infection in dogs included feeding with raw
viscera, the possibility of scavenging dead animals, a lack
of anthelmintic treatment and the owners’ poor health
education (Otero-Abad & Torgerson, 2013).
Diseases in hounds elsewhere in the world
A similar situation is seen in hunting hounds elsewhere
in the world (Table 7). As the data show, a number of
factors identied in packs of hounds in the UK mean that
hounds and other hunting dogs also pose a heightened
risk of harbouring, transmitting and spreading infectious
diseases and zoonoses elsewhere in the world. Common
risk factors include: feeding hounds on raw meat, and
particularly offal; interactions between packs of hounds
at eld trials and shows; lending hounds to other packs
for breeding or moving hounds between packs; direct
contact between hounds and infected wild animals,
especially when the hounds break up the carcase of
an animal they killed; direct contact between hounds,
horses and other livestock; poor veterinary care,
especially inadequate treatment protocols to control
disease levels; failing to monitor disease in packs of
hounds routinely; failing to maintain high standards of
kennel hygiene; housing large numbers of hunting dogs
together; and hunting in dense vegetation where the
hounds are particularly likely to pick up ticks, which are
vectors for a number of diseases.
Table 7. Examples of parasites and diseases recorded in hounds and other hunting dogs in other parts of the world
Parasite/disease History Source
African horse
sickness Africa
African horse sickness is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules, donkeys
and zebras caused by orbiviruses spread by midges, mosquitos and ticks.
The hounds of the Gwelo Hunt Club in Zimbabwe were fed the carcases
of mules that died following inoculation for horse sickness. Five hounds
died of horse sickness, two recovered, and 16 were unaffected
In 1955 seven of a pack of about 50 hounds belonging to a hunt club in
South Africa near Johannesburg died of horse sickness or were euthanized
after being fed meat from three horses: it was usually cooked but raw
meat was fed after exercise
Bevan (1911)
Haig et al. (1956)
in Europe
Prevalence rates of Echinococcus multilocularis were <0.5% in privately
owned dogs in Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland, but 3 to 8%
in dogs with predatory habits and those able to roam more widely
Of 289 dogs examined in Slovakia, Echinococcus multilocularis was
recorded in sheep dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs: the most
important risk factors were catching rodents and eating raw viscera.
It was previously unrecorded in Slovakia: hunting and similar dogs
were playing a major role in disease transmission
Deplazes et al. (2011)
Antolová et al. (2009)
in Europe
Aujeszky’s disease is present in wild boar in much of Europe. Highest
seroprevalences are in Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Italy and Spain),
followed by central and eastern Europe (Austria, Czech Republic,
Germany and Slovenia). Seroprevalences are generally lower in central
and northern Europe (parts of France and Germany, the Netherlands,
Sweden and Switzerland) but moderate to high in Belgium, Luxembourg
and western Germany
Hunting dogs in Poland have been infected by eating raw meat and offal
from wild boar, and from bites when hunting badgers
Cay & Letellier (2009);
Meier et al. (2015)
Szczotka-Bochniarz et al.
in the US
In the US hunting dogs become infected after eating raw meat from feral
pigs or by direct contact during hunts. It is almost always fatal in dogs,
with most deaths within 48 to 72 hours. For instance, in Arkansas 10
hunting dogs died after catching, and eating meat from, a feral pig
While pseudorabies is not transferrable to humans, the Arkansas
Department of Health stressed that feral pigs carry multiple viruses,
bacteria and parasites that pose health risks to both humans and dogs.
Most notable is swine brucellosis. Others include: anthrax, Escherichia coli,
hepatitis E virus, swine inuenza virus, leptospirosis, rabies, salmonellosis,
trichinosis, tuberculosis and tularemia
health-and-your-dogs; www.
Cramer et al. (2011)
Botulism in the
Lower motor neuron dysfunction due to type C botulism developed in 19
America foxhounds while they were out hunting: 10 became weak and 9
became quadriplegic, three of which died
Barsanti et al. (1978)
Canine leprosy
(canine leproid
syndrome -
CLGS) in
Australia, New
Zealand and the
CLGS was rst described from Zimbabwe in 1973, and is caused by
fastidious mycobacterial species that are probably transmitted by biting
insects. Several cases occurred in a foxhound pack in New Zealand in
2010, 2011 and 2012; freshly slaughtered horse carcases, destined to be
hound food, were hung within metres of the hounds’ runs and could have
attracted biting ies. Two other cases occurred in two hunt clubs on the
outskirts of Melbourne in 1992. While 50 km apart, some hounds from
each hunt had met at a joint event. Another case occurred in foxhounds
in Georgia, USA, in 2002
Smits et al. (2012)
Heartworm in
The rst case of Dirolaria immitis in a Canadian-born dog was an
American foxhound from Stratford, Ontario. The parasite had been
contracted from a pair of foxhounds imported from Illinois two years
earlier. The case highlighted the risks of importing hounds and moving
them around for international eld trials and dog shows
Nielsen (1954)
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Parasite/disease History Source
Heartworm in
the US
Of 102 foxhounds examined from three hunt clubs in Maryland, 45 were
infected with Dirolaria immitis microlariae
Mallack et al. (1971)
in the Czech
Of eight dogs used to hunt foxes, Hepatozoon DNA was detected in four,
and in 20/21 red foxes from the same area. There was no known vector in the
area, and so there must have been cross infection between dogs and foxes
Mitková et al. (2016)
Leptospirosis in
Being in contact with horses and being used for hunting were signicant
risk factors associated with seropositivity to Leptospira serogroups
Bratislava and grippotyphosa respectively for dogs
Delaude et al. (2017)
interrogans in
the US
Leptospira interrogans (serovars grippotyphosa and ballum) were isolated
from an American foxhound puppy, and 23 of 36 adult foxhounds had
serovar grippotyphosa
Cole et al. (1982)
Paragonimiasis in
western Japan
Boar-hunting dogs were infected with Paragonimus westermani by being
fed wild boar meat and could be a major denitive host maintaining the
disease in western Japan. Control measures should include the prohibition
of raw meat feeding and regular deworming of hunting dogs
Irie et al. (2017)
Swine brucellosis
in Australia
Brucellosis, caused by Brucella suis, is endemic in feral pigs in Queensland
and is spreading to other parts of Australia. Hunting dogs and humans
are infected through contact with blood, body uids or tissue of infected
pigs, and hunting dogs are also infected by feeding raw meat and offal
from feral pigs. Feral pig hunting is the main risk factor for catching
brucellosis in New South Wales. Veterinarians have become infected
following surgery on infected dogs
Massey et al. (2011)
Swine brucellosis
in the US
Brucellosis is widespread in feral pigs in the US, particularly in the
southeast. There has been a signicant increase in infected hunting dogs,
and non-hunting dogs have also been infected via urine of infected dogs
(particularly in kennels), when breeding, or from being fed uncooked
meat or scraps
Leiser et al. (2013)
infections in India
Eleven of 17 foxhounds imported to Secunderabad from other parts of
India subsequently contracted piroplasmosis and died
Piroplasma gibsoni (now Babesia gibsoni) was rst isolated in blood from
the foxhounds of the Madras Hunt, and was later found to be common in
golden jackals, the main quarry for the hunt. It was such a problem that
every hound had to be deticked on returning to the kennels after hunting
and exercising. The main vector is the tick Haemaphysalis bispinosa
Webb (1906)
Symons & Patton (1912);
Symons (1926a,b); Groves
& Dennis (1972)
infections in Italy
Of 117 healthy hunting dogs in central Italy, 64 (54.7%) had tick-borne
bacterial and protozoan infections - 38 (32.5%) screened positive for
Hepatozoon canis, 24 (20.5%) for Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhofi, 20
(17.1%) for Leishmania infantum, six (5.1%) for Coxiella burne, ve (4.3%)
for Babesia canis, three (2.5%) for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and two
(1.7%) for Ehrlichia canis
In southern Italy, 138/1335 hunting dogs were seroreactive to one or more
of Ehrlichia canis (7.6%), Anaplasma spp.(4.4%), Borrelia burgdorferi sensu
lato (0.3%) and Dirolaria immitis (0.2%). Hunting fur-bearing animals and
larger pack sizes were risk factors for Ehrlichia canis and Anaplasma spp
Ebani et al. (2015)
Piantedosi et al. (2017)
infections in the
Of 27 Walker hounds (a breed developed from American and English
foxhounds to hunt a variety of species, particularly raccoons) in a kennel
in North Carolina, 26 were seroreactive to Ehrlichia sp., 16 to Babesia
canis, 25 to Bartonella vinsonii, and 22 seroconverted to Rickettsia
rickettsii antigens. Of 23 tested, eight were seroreactive to Bartonella
henselae, one to E. chaffeensis, and one to Rickettsia rickettsii antigen,
although none had signs of illness. Kennel dogs with heavy tick exposure
can be infected at a high rate with multiple, potentially zoonotic,
tick-borne pathogens
Kordick et al. (1999)
Parasite/disease History Source
Toxocara canis
in Italy
Nearly half (48.4%) of the rural dogs examined in the Marche region of It-
aly were positive for Toxocara canis compared to around a quarter (26.2%)
of urban dogs; the highest infection rate (64.7%) was in rural hunting dogs
Habluetzel et al. (2003)
in Italy
Wild boar are usually butchered in the eld and offal and scraps
discarded; hunting dogs (and wildlife) ingest these parts, which include
striated muscles (often the whole diaphragm), the ecological niche of the
larvae of Trichinella spp. Similar problems apply in other parts of the world
Gómez-Morales et al. (2016)
in India
African trypanosomiasis (surra or sleeping sickness) is caused by
Trypanosoma evansi. A pack of healthy foxhounds was imported from
England to the Bombay Hunt: shortly afterwards nine contracted surra
and died. In 1926/1927 the same hunt imported a pack of 23 couple
of foxhounds: they were obliterated by surra. While surra is normally
transmitted by horse ies, the evidence suggests that the hounds were
infected by breaking up infected jackals, which also had the disease at
the time, or possibly eating an infected carcase
Walley (1893); Ware (1928)
in the US
American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) is caused by Trypanosoma
cruzi. Of 86 working coonhounds from three kennels in south-central
Texas (in one kennel hounds had died from Chagas disease), 58% had
antibodies to Trypanosoma cruzi and 17% had parasite DNA in their
blood; outdoor multi-dog kennels in areas with kissing bug vectors pose
a high-risk for transmission in dogs. A survey in Texas conrmed the
disease in 48 dog breeds, primarily sporting and working dogs
Kjos et al. (2008);
Curtis-Robles et al. (2017)
canine diseases
in Korea
Of 229 wild boar or pheasant hunting dogs, 22.3% were serologically
positive for Dirolaria immitis, 18.8% for Anaplasma phagocytophilum,
6.1% for Ehrlichia canis and 2.2% for Borrelia burgdorferi. Of 692 urban
dogs, 14.6% were serologically positive for Dirolaria immitis; none of
the other tick-borne pathogens were detected in urban dogs. These
vector-borne pathogens can cause severe disease in humans
Lim et al. (2010)
leishmaniosis in
Of 50 uninfected beagles introduced into kennels in Cevennes, southern
France, a focus of visceral leishmaniasis, 36 (72%) became infected after
one season
Dye et al. (1993)
leishmaniosis in
Visceral leishmaniosis in a pack of foxhounds near Baghdad caused heavy
Sheriff (1957)
leishmaniosis in
North America
The rst report of the disease in American foxhounds was in Oklahoma
in 1980. In spring 2000 the MFHA of America cancelled all foxhunting
events after visceral leishmaniosis was identied in 40 foxhound kennels
in 23 US states and 2 provinces in Canada. It is widespread in, and mostly
recorded in, foxhounds but has been passed to other dogs via blood
transfusions. It is limited to dog-to-dog transmission, mainly from mother
to pups. Advice on prevention and management includes ensuring that
all hounds should be tested twice before being acquired, shipped, or
exchanged for breeding, and neutering infected animals to prevent
vertical transmission. Some foxhound kennels in North America have
adopted a test and elimination approach to try to reduce disease levels.
Visceral leishmaniosis may have been introduced to North America by
acquiring hounds from hunts in southern Europe
tofoxhounds.html; https://
leishmaniasis; www.mfha.
Anderson et al. (1980);
Enserink (2000); Anon. (2001);
Owens et al. (2001); de
Freitas et al. (2006); Duprey
et al. (2006); Freeman (2010);
Boggiatto et al. (2011);
Toepp et al. (2017)
helminths in
In Ponte de Lima, Portugal, dogs used to hunt wild boar had a higher
prevalence of helminths and a signicantly higher risk of being infected
with multiple species of helminths; hunting dogs were responsible for
most environmental contamination and human disease
Mateus et al. (2014)
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Disease risks of feeding dead foxes to
Experiences from elsewhere in the world have highlighted
the risk of allowing hounds to break up the bodies of
wild animals they have killed. Prior to the Hunting Act
2004, foxhunts routinely fed dead foxes to their hounds.
This breaking up of the carcase was considered to be a
reward for the hounds and a key part of training hounds
to hunt foxes. Some hunts have continued to throw the
bodies of dead foxes to their hounds when these are
killed accidentally or when they are dug out and killed
by the hunt terriermen.
In the tussle between the hounds, the carcase of the fox
suffers multiple bite wounds, causing extensive bone
fractures and rupture of the thoracic and abdominal
cavities. The internal organs are pulled out and eaten
by at least some of the hounds, so that all that remains
is some of the skin, bones and musculature of the fox
(Butterworth, 2000). During the tussle, body uids such
as blood, urine and faeces are spread on the hounds,
which subsequently lick themselves clean.
Foxes and hounds are both canids (members of the dog
family Canidae) and most of their parasites and pathogens
are shared. The parasites and pathogens of wild foxes
in Britain and Ireland are summarised in Baker & Harris
(2008). In addition to the nematodes and cestodes
already discussed, the heartworm Angiostrongylus
vasorum is of particular note. It was rst reported in
Cornwall in 1982, from where it has slowly spread
northwards (Yamakawa et al., 2009). Foxes are widely
assumed to be a reservoir of infection for dogs, and
the parasite is endemic in foxes where there is a high
incidence in dogs (Morgan et al., 2008). The role of
hunting, and feeding fox carcases to hounds, in the
spread of heartworm in Britain is unknown, but it is
clearly a risk factor.
The pathogens recorded in foxes include Brucella
abortus, ten serotpyes of Leptospira (of which Leptospira
icterohaemorrhagiae and Leptospira canicola are the
most common), Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis
(the causative agent of Johne’s disease), Mycobacterium
bovis, Neospora caninum, Salmonella infantes and
Toxoplasma gondii. All these can be transferred to
hounds when they break up the carcases of foxes.
Since the review by Baker & Harris (2008), a number of
other parasites and pathogens have been identied in
British foxes that pose a risk to hounds. These include
the nematode Trichinella pseudospiralis (Learmount et
al., 2015): elsewhere in Europe hunting dogs play an
important role in the epidemiology of Trichinella spp.
(Gómez-Morales et al., 2016). Similarly, infectious canine
hepatitis poses a signicant risk to hounds: it has been
identied in fox carcases and antibodies were found
in 11/58 (19%) of foxes from England and Scotland
(Thompson et al., 2010; Philbey & Thompson, 2014).
The virus may be transmitted to dogs through contact
with infected excretions such as urine and faeces
(Thompson et al., 2010).
Allowing hounds to break up the bodies of dead foxes
poses a signicant risk of spreading a wide variety of
parasites and pathogens to hounds, humans and
livestock. However, in the absence of data on parasites
and pathogens in hounds, it is currently impossible to
quantify that risk. Thus far the focus continues to be on
echinococcosis, and another study is underway into the
prevalence of Echinococcus in packs of hounds, their
husbandry and health care (Anon., 2016c). Comparable
data are needed on other parasites in packs of hounds
that are of economic and public health concern.
In the UK there is a lack of data on general health
and disease in packs of hounds since animals that are
deemed no longer t to hunt are routinely culled and
destroyed without a post mortem, thereby allowing
infectious diseases to go unnoticed and spread within
the pack. Despite the lack of quantied data, a wide
range of diseases, including zoonoses and notiable
diseases, have been recorded in packs of hounds in
the UK and elsewhere in the world. A number of risk
factors are associated with hunting hounds becoming
infected with, and spreading, livestock and other
diseases. These include: feeding raw meat and offal;
poor standards of kennel hygiene; lack of adequate
veterinary care; lack of routine monitoring of disease;
close contact with livestock; and interacting with other
packs of hounds. Allowing hounds to break up the
carcases of wild animals poses a particular risk
Health treatment of hounds
Basic principles
Animal contact carries disease risks but the frequency of
most zoonotic diseases can be lessened or eliminated
with management practices that serve both humans and
dogs (Beck, 2013). Thus appropriate health treatment
of all dogs, and especially working dogs, is critical to
reducing the risk of infection in dogs and the transmission
of disease to humans and livestock.
The general advice for pets is that puppies should be
wormed every two to three weeks from the age of two
weeks until 12 weeks old, then monthly until they are six
months old (
Articles/worming-your-dog.html). Puppies (unlike most
mammals) pick up intestinal worms from their mother
through the placenta and, after the birth, through the
mother’s milk and faeces. So it is essential to worm
pregnant bitches from day 40 of pregnancy to two days
after the birth using a wormer containing fenbendazole
to cover gastro-intestinal tapeworms (Taenia spp.) and
roundworms (Toxocara canis), hookworms (Uncinaria
spp. and Ancylostoma caninum), whipworms (Trichuris
vulpis) and giardia (Giardia spp.) This will not prevent,
but will drastically reduce, the transfer of parasites to
the puppy. After the birth, the mother can be returned
to a three-monthly worming regime. Similar treatments
containing fenbendazole are available for puppies
Mothers/a/ART111536). It is also important to treat the
mother for eas, since these are the intermediate host
of the common dog tapeworm Dipylidium caninum.
Thereafter, due to the zoonotic risk represented by
Toxocara canis, the European Scientic Counsel
Companion Animal Parasites UK & Ireland (ESCCAP)
recommends that all UK dogs should be treated for
Toxocara infection at least every three months to reduce
egg shedding (ESCCAP, 2017), or more frequently if
there are young children in the household.
Pet dogs that are inclined to scavenge or live in high risk
areas may need worming more frequently (http://www.
dog.html). Dogs that are hunting or being fed offal or
an unprocessed raw diet pose a particular health risk
and should be treated once a month year-round for
tapeworms and roundworms (ESCCAP, 2017).
Ectoparasites (ticks and eas) also pose a risk to dogs
because of the diseases that they can transmit (page 45).
The Kennel Club recommends an integrated ea-control
program for dogs, consisting of: (i) a ea adulticide to
kill adult eas on a dog, to be used at the start of a ea
management program and then whenever more eas
are seen on the dog; (ii) a ea protection treatment used
once a month all through the year to break the ea
lifecycle; and (iii) frequent cleaning of oors and the
dog’s bedding to reduce the environmental ea population
py-or-dog/general-puppy-health/). Since hunting dogs
pose a particular risk, ESCCAP recommends that they
should be checked for ticks at least every 24 hours, and
any ticks removed using a suitable tick removal device
(ESCCAP, 2017).
Thus the basic advice is that hunting dogs need more
regular treatment for internal and external parasites than
that recommended for pet dogs.
Veterinary care of American foxhounds
The MFHA of America recommends that hound health
programs should be drawn up and a detailed log book
or software program used to identify the past and present
schedule of vaccinations and worming treatments
(Foster & Wood, 2015; Seier & Foster, 2015). The MFHA
of America also gives very specic guidelines on the
various health treatments that should be given to packs
of hounds in their Foxhound kennel notebook (www.
Puppies, for instance, should be wormed every fortnight
from two to 16 weeks of age and adult hounds should be
given a preventative for internal and external parasites
once a month (Seier & Foster, 2015). The MFHA of
America’s recommended vaccination programme for
puppies is shown in Box 8 and for adult hounds in Box 9.
Box 8. Vaccination programme recommended for
puppies by the Masters of Foxhounds Association
of America (Seier & Foster, 2015); not all these
vaccinations are relevant to the UK
Vaccinations for the rst time:-
• Distemper
• Adenovirus (Type II)
• Para-inuenza (CP I)
• Parvo
• Corona - may also be included
Vaccinations for the second time:-
• Distemper
• Adenovirus (Type II)
• Para-inuenza
• Parvo
• Corona - may also be included
Vaccinations for the third time:-
• Distemper
• Adenovirus (Type II)
• Para-inuenza
• Parvo
• Leptospira - to include new strains of Lepto
• Rabies - depending on local requirements
• Bordetella - injectable or oral
• Corona - also frequently included
Recommended additional vaccinations include:-
• Bordetella - injectable or oral
• Leptospira
• Parvo
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Box 9. Vaccination programme recommended for
adult hounds by the Masters of Foxhounds Association
of America (Seier & Foster, 2015); not all these
vaccinations are relevant to the UK
One year of age after full series of vaccinations as a puppy
• Rabies
• DHPPV - distemper, hepatitis, para-inuenza, parvo
• Leptospirosis - 4 way
• Bordetella - injectable
Annually thereafter
• Leptospirosis - 4 way
• Bordetella - injectable or oral
• Para-inuenza
Every three years thereafter
• Distemper
• Hepatitis
• Parvo
• Rabies
Vaccination programmes for British hounds
The situation in Britain is much less transparent. The
MFHA simply says that the Council of Hunting Associations
has produced a Code of Practice for Hunt Kennels in
light of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and in so doing
have imitated the style of codes that are already in place
for other domesticated and farmed animals. This code
of practice provides advice for Masters and Hunt Staff
on the necessary standards for hound husbandry and the
veterinary treatment of kennelled hounds. In producing
the Code, the Council of Hunting Association [sic] has
sought advice from experienced veterinary surgeons
and kennel huntsmen on the content of the code of
practice (
While all hunts have a copy of this code in their kennels
ntent&task=blogsection&id=9&Itemid=44), it is not
publicly available and we have been unable to nd any
reference to a version that supersedes the code issued
in 2007. The MFHA inspects kennels every three years
tion/3), although their kennel inspection form appears
to have been changed from a reporting to a self-
assessment form (
So very little information is available on the vaccination
programmes for British packs of hounds. The veterinary
report on an outbreak of equine inuenza A virus (H3N8)
in a pack of English foxhounds in September 2002 says
that the hounds had been inoculated with commercially
available vaccines against the major canine respiratory
and enteric viruses when they were puppies (≈eight weeks
of age), but makes no reference to any subsequent
vaccinations (Daly et al., 2008).
The British Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends
the following core vaccines for pet dogs: canine
distemper virus, canine adenovirus/infectious canine
hepatitis, canine parvovirus and leptospirosis. It also
recommends Bordetella bronchiseptica +/- canine
parainuenza virus (kennel cough vaccine) for dogs
before kennelling, dog shows and training classes, rabies
(a legal requirement for dogs travelling abroad/returning
to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme), canine herpes
virus for breeding bitches, leishmaniosis before travelling
to endemic areas, and Borrelia burgodorferi for dogs
at high risk of exposure to Lyme disease (https://www.
In addition to the core vaccines recommended by the
British Small Animal Veterinary Association, some of the
additional vaccinations should also be routine for hounds.
In 2017 Horse & Hound warned that kennel cough will
continue to be a problem until hunting grasps the nettle
of compulsory vaccination (https://www.pressreader.
Hounds are at high risk of collecting ticks and
vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended
for dogs living in or visiting regions where the risk of
tick exposure is high, or where the disease is endemic
Scientic-information/Lyme-disease). Treating hounds with
acaricides may also help prevent transmission of Lyme
disease (
Anthelmintic treatment of British hounds
In the 1970s, over half of the 353 registered hunts in
Britain responded to a questionnaire survey. Most of the
respondents wormed their dogs for tapeworms, nor-
mally at the beginning and end of each season, usually
with drugs known to be ineffective (Thompson & Smyth,
1975). A kennelman who worked with three packs of
foxhounds in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire from 1980
to 2001 mainly used piperazine- and albendazole-based
drugs in the 1980s to treat the foxhounds; these com-
pounds have little or no effect against tapeworms. From
the mid-1990s, he used praziquantel, the drug of choice
for canid tapeworm infections, twice a year to treat the
pack of foxhounds where he was then working (Craig
et al., 2012).
While The code of practice issued by the Council
of Hunting Associations in 2007 recommended that
hounds should be treated with praziquantel at least
twice a year, at the start and end of the hunting season,
a 2011 questionnaire survey of 16 foxhunts in England
and Wales found that 56% never used a praziquantel-
based wormer to treat their hounds, even though 75%
of these hunts fed their hounds raw offal from fallen
stock including calves, cattle, horses, lambs and sheep
(Craig et al., 2012; Lett, 2013). Furthermore, the level
of knowledge on hygiene standards, and practices,
displayed by kennelmen was at best alarming. One
reported that, despite the recommendations made in
The code of practice, not much had improved regarding
the feeding of uncooked livestock offal to the hounds,
which included feeding whole horse carcases without
any organs removed, and that the worming treatments
given to hounds did not include drugs used to eliminate
tapeworms. Another kennelman used a combination
of Ivomec and Drontal to treat for parasitic worms,
and regularly fed the hounds raw liver from fallen stock
such as cattle, horses, lambs and sheep. Another
kennelman fed his pack raw liver and lungs from fallen
stock including horses and sheep, but used Panacur
as a worming drug even though it did not contain
praziquantel. Five of the 16 kennelmen interviewed said
that they did not even know what echinococcosis or
hydatid disease was (Lett, 2013).
This lack of knowledge on the disease, and the risks
to humans and livestock, may reect the attitude of
the MFHA and the guidance given to hunts. The 2007
Council of Hunting Associations’ Code of practice
does not warn staff that they may be at risk of human
echinococcosis (Lett, 2013). When the Director of the
MFHA (who was also the Director of the Council of
Hunting Associations) was asked for his approval for a
questionnaire to be sent to hunt kennels, he requested
that the following questions were removed: Do you
know what echinococcosis/hydatid disease is? and If
yes, how are humans infected? From dogs, from sheep
or from other source? [sic] When asked why he wanted
these questions removed, the Director of the MFHA
said that they were unnecessary (Lett, 2013).
While the Council of Hunting Associations recommended
that hounds should be treated with praziquantel at least
twice a year, the hydatid control programme in mid-
Wales from 1983-1989 had to dose owned farm dogs
every six weeks with praziquantel to have a signicant
impact on the rate of transmission of Echinococcus
granulosus (Buishi et al., 2005; Lembo et al., 2013).
This programme of treating dogs was coupled with
an extensive education programme. As a result, the
prevalence of cystic echinococcosis in sheep declined
from 23.5% to 10.5% within a three-to-four-year period.
After ve years of dosing with praziquantel, the prevalence
of echinococcosis in dogs was 0% in 1993 (Lembo et al.,
However, the reemergence of Echinococcus granulosus
in dogs in south-east Wales following the premature end
of the supervised dog-dosing control scheme and a
reversion to practices such as farmers allowing their
dogs to roam free and infrequent (>four-month intervals)
dosing of farm dogs with praziquantel (http://www.; Buishi et al.,
2005; Lembo et al., 2013), highlights the need for
regular treatment of hounds (and farm dogs). The eggs
of Echinococcus granulosus are highly resistant and
can survive on the ground for up to a year (http://www., so ESCCAP
Europe recommends that dogs with access to
Echinococcus metacestodes need to be treated
monthly with praziquantel to reduce environmental
contamination (Baneth et al., 2016).
So, even if it was followed by all hunts, the advice
given by the Council of Hunting Associations on
kennel management would be inadequate to prevent
the spread of Echinococcus granulosus and other
cestodes. Other reports also suggest that the health
treatment of British hounds is at best perfunctory.
For instance, a retired huntsman advised that the end
of the season is the time to get the hounds all wormed
and really sorted out (Barker, 2012), whereas they should
be treated for worms throughout the year. It should
also be remembered that hounds pose a risk of disease
transmission throughout the year, not only when hunting.
Outside the hunting season, and on days when they
are not hunting, hounds regularly use the same routes
and elds for exercise, leading to very high levels of
contamination on particular pastures and along country
roads and lanes used by livestock (page 35).
The importance of regular treatments with anthelmintics
was highlighted by a study of 52 culled hounds from 10
Irish packs: a third (17/52) had lesions associated with
the migration of Toxocara canis larvae, characterized by
granulomas, some of which contained remnants of the
larvae, and subcapsular brosis in the kidney, liver, lung
and spleen, highlighting the difculty of eradicating
Toxocara canis in working hounds (Jahns et al., 2011).
Costs of veterinary care for hounds
A programme of hound health treatment can be a
signicant drain on hunt resources and, since April 2016,
there has been the added cost of microchipping hounds
over eight weeks old, which is now compulsory in Britain
( A
number of hunts have adopted sponsorship schemes
to try to offset these costs. The Blankney Hunt has a
scheme where £20 sponsorship goes directly towards
vaccinations, wormers, Id chips and much more
sponsorship-day/). The South Shropshire Hound
Sponsorship was set up to contribute towards the
costs of vaccinating and microchipping their hounds
sponsorship/), and the Vine and Craven Hunt’s hound
sponsorship scheme was established to help with funding
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
their hound welfare including vaccinations, worming,
vets bills, plus any equipment needed in kennels to keep
hounds healthy and happy (http://www.vineandcraven- In 2016 and 2017 the Jed Forest Hunt used
public appeals (
helpthehounds) to try to raise the funds to vaccinate
their hounds against kennel cough; the hunt had missed
part of the previous three seasons because of recurrent
infections. While kennel cough is a central part of
hound health care for many hunts because it curbs
their activities, it is of minor consequence in terms of
disease risk to humans and livestock.
So maintaining basic veterinary standards appears to
be a signicant drain on hunt resources and the priority
seem to be addressing diseases that have the potential
to curtail hunting rather than diseases that cause
signicant losses to livestock farmers and pose a risk
to humans.
The MFHA of America publishes detailed health
treatment programmes for their hounds, whereas
the health treatment programmes for packs of hounds
in the UK are not publicly available. This lack of
transparency makes it difcult to assess whether the
health treatment programmes implemented by UK
packs of hounds are adequate. The limited amount
of information that is available raises concerns about
the vaccination and programmes to treat internal and
external parasites of packs of hounds. Despite the
signicant risks to livestock, humans and the hounds
themselves, the key concern of hunts seems to be to
prevent diseases such as kennel cough that have the
potential to curtail hunting
The economic impact of
livestock diseases
In addition to the diseases already covered (page 29),
there are a variety of other livestock diseases where
hunting with hounds is likely to play a role in their
spread. The list below is not exhaustive and is only
intended to give an idea of the losses that are incurred
by livestock farmers.
Cestodes in sheep
Foxhounds have high prevalences of a number of species
of tapeworm (page 36) for which sheep are the
intermediate host. Cysticercus ovis (sometimes called
sheep measles) and Cysticercus tenuicollis are the larval
stages in sheep of the tapeworms Taenia ovis and Taenia
hydatigena respectively. The consumption of raw meat
and offal from sheep carcases had a signicant impact
on the prevalence of these cestodes (Williams, 1976b).
Hunting poses a high risk that sheep will be infected with
tapeworms that cause major economic losses
While Cysticercus ovis and Cysticercus tenuicollis rarely
cause disease in sheep, they have a major economic
impact on sheep farmers. Access to grazing land by
hunts and the infrequent use of dog cestocides were
signicant factors associated with high lamb liver
rejection rates at abattoirs due to Cysticercus
tenuicollis (Jepson & Hinton, 1986). In 2012 Cysticercus
ovis led to 66,500 lambs being rejected and an industry
loss of £5 million, and Cysticercus tenuicollis was the
cause of 742,000 lamb liver rejection in English abattoirs
in 2012. While less common, Cysticercus ovis can be
more economically damaging for farmers because
the entire carcase may be rejected for sheep measles
costing-sheep-sector-15m-a-year.htm). In 2014, 8.8%
of sheep livers were rejected due to Cysticercus
tenuicollis, and in 2015 0.61% of the carcases of all
the sheep slaughtered in England were rejected for
Cysticercus ovis and 5.81% for Cysticercus tenuicollis
(SHAWG, 2017).
The main concern about hydatid disease is the impact
on human health rather than the economic impact on
the farming industry. From 2000 to the start of 2013,
there were 19 conrmed cases in Wales and 77 in
England, although a proportion of these cases were
acquired abroad (
Johne’s disease (paratuberculosis)
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
classies Johne’s disease as of serious economic or
public health importance, and is particularly difcult
to tackle because the organisms can survive in river
water for ve months, pond water for nine months, and
in soil for 47 months; the spread of infected manure
poses a particular risk of disease transmission. The
control of Johne’s disease is further complicated by the
long delay between infection and animals showing signs
of disease. Since hares and their predators can become
infected and develop lesions (
handouts/les/Scottish_Report_JD.pdf), beagling and
hunting hares with harriers pose a particular risk of
spreading the disease.
The disease is signicantly under-diagnosed in sheep,
but annual mortality rates can be as high as 5-10% in
many infected ocks, and in two fallen stock surveys
Johne’s disease was diagnosed in 6% of ewes (SHAWG,
2017). In 2013 Johne’s disease cost the UK cattle industry
£13 million (ADAS, 2013).
While accurate gures are not available, 350,000 people
in the UK are estimated to become infected with
Toxoplasma, and data from the Netherlands and USA
suggest that toxoplasmosis is one of the most costly
gastrointestinal infections because the infection is
widespread in livestock (Advisory Committee on the
Microbiological Safety of Food, 2012).
While calves become infected by grazing contaminated
pasture, Toxoplasma is far less infective to cattle (Andreoletti
et al., 2007). In pigs, toxoplasmosis is associated with
reproductive disorders such as abortion and premature
birth (Andreoletti et al., 2007), and recent changes to
more outdoor farming systems may have resulted in an
increase in seroprevalence due to increased exposure to
other animals and the environment (Advisory Committee
on the Microbiological Safety of Food, 2012).
Toxoplasma is a major cause of abortion and stillbirth in
sheep and goats. In 2011, 26% of perinatal lamb losses
on Welsh sheep farms were attributed to abortions or
stillbirths: the three main infectious causes of abortion
were Chlamydia abortus, toxoplasmosis and Campylobacter
sp. (SHAWG, 2017), and collectively these are estimated
to cost the UK sheep industry £30 million a year.
Toxoplasmosis was the second most important cause
of abortion in sheep and in the UK is believed to cause
the loss of over half-a-million lambs each year, at a
cost of £12-24 million (Advisory Committee on the
Microbiological Safety of Food, 2012).
A few other examples
Clostridial diseases kill large numbers of sheep every
year, with pulpy kidney and lamb dysentery diagnosed
most often (Lovatt et al., 2014).
Bovine viral diarrhoea cost the UK cattle industry £36.6
million in 2013, and calf scour (diarrhoea) £11 million:
in 2010 over 70% of cattle farms experienced calf
deaths from scour. Of these, 30% of cases were due
to cryptosporidiosis and 5% to Escherichia coli, with
Salmonella and coccidiosis being less common causative
agents (ADAS, 2013).
While the importance of hunts in spreading diseases
has long been recognised, it is not possible to estimate
the full economic impact of hunting with hounds on
human health and the UK livestock sector. For sheep
farmers, having hunts on your land is a major risk factor
contributing to their economic losses due to cestodes.
While hunts play a role in the spread of a number of
other livestock diseases, the contribution of hunts is
less easy to untangle from the other risk factors
Future risks
The risks of pet travel
Dogs can act as reservoirs for numerous pathogens
and, since 90% of these are multihost (Cleaveland et al.
2001), they have the potential to spill over into livestock
and wild animals.
In February 2000, the UK adopted the Pet Travel Scheme
to enable pets with the appropriate documentation to
move between the UK and certain countries. This was
a signicant change since, for the previous century,
the Importation of Dogs Act 1901 had made it illegal
to import a dog, cat or one of several other named
species without the animal rst spending six months in
quarantine. The scheme was primarily designed to
prevent the importation of rabies, with secondary
measures to prevent the introduction of Echinococcus
multilocularis (Fèvre et al., 2006).
The risk of introducing new zoonoses was enhanced
when the UK harmonised its pet travel rules with the
rest of the EU in January 2012. People could take their
dog, cat or ferret in and out of the UK without quarantine
so long as they fullled the scheme’s rules. However,
loopholes and poor enforcement led to the introduction
of EU Regulation (576/2013) (
animals/pet-movement/eu-legislation_en), which came
into effect on 29th December 2014 (
In 2015, 164,836 dogs entered the UK under the Pet
Travel Scheme. Of these, 65,080 dogs were imported
from 128 countries, with 91% coming from other EU
Member States; 28,344 were imported for commercial
purposes. The rest were British owners returning home
with their pet (
However, these are only the recorded gures: the
number of illegal imports is unknown but appears to
be rising (
38825539). An investigation by the Dogs Trust showed
that the scheme is still extensively abused and that this
poses a signicant risk of introducing new zoonoses to
the UK (
scandal). Their report led to calls for further changes
to strengthen the scheme (https://www.mariacauleld.eld-mp-calls-changes-pet-travel-
Hunting with hounds and the spread of disease
Zoonotic risks associated with packs of
Pet travel appears to be introducing exotic species
of ticks from Africa and the United States to the UK
(Jameson & Medlock, 2011), and this could spread new
pathogens to humans, livestock and wildlife (Millán et
al., 2016; Twardek et al., 2017). Because hounds hunt
through dense cover, they and other working dogs are
at high risk of being infected by ticks and tick-borne
diseases (page 41): a number of the diseases recorded in
hunting hounds in Europe and elsewhere are transmitted
by ticks (Table 7). Since some British packs of hounds
are regularly taken to hunt in Europe, sometimes jointly
with overseas packs, and hounds from Europe come to
Britain for joint hunts with British packs (Table 8), there
is a signicant risk that they will be infected with ticks
or exotic tick-borne diseases. ESCCAP UK & Ireland
recommend that all dogs entering the UK should be
screened for exotic tick-borne diseases, and hunting
dogs should be checked for ticks at least every 24 hours,
and any ticks removed using a suitable tick removal
device (ESCCAP, 2017).
Table 8. Examples of some of the UK packs of hounds
that have hunted abroad in recent years
Hunt Details of hunts undertaken outside the UK Source
School and
college packs
of beagles
The school and college packs of beagles have hunted as far away as
Downds (2015a)
There was a joint meet with the Equipage de Rivecourt during which 20
couple of hounds (presumably a mixed pack) hunted a stag. Since the
report was titled Another visit to France with the Equipage de Rivecourt,
there were earlier visits
Cunningham & Cunningham
Staghounds and
the Equipage
de Rivecourt
Since the ban [which came into effect in February 2005] there is an
exchange of hunting with a pack of staghounds, the Equipage de
Rivecourt, based in Picardy, northern France. Two years ago [presumably
2014] we took our hounds across the Channel and enjoyed a highly
successful meet. While the report says that there is an exchange of
hunting, no details are given of the visits to the UK by the Equipage de
Jackson (2016)
On 16th November 2015 three horses and 5½ couples of hounds in a
stock trailer and small lorry, supported by a chuck wagon, were taken for
a joint meet with the Equipage de Rivecourt. On 18th November, the
two packs had a joint hunt in the Forêt Domaniale de Laigue. On 20th
November some followers went boar hunting and a few joined a pack
of roebuck hounds. On 21st November there was another joint staghunt
by the two packs
Batten (2015)
On 6th November 2016 three horses and seven couples of hounds again
joined the Equipage de Rivecourt in France. One of the Exmoor
foxhounds (Warlock) was due to join the Rivecourt pack in September
2017. The two packs had a joint hunt in the Forêt Domaniale de Laigue
on 9th November, had to be wormed by the vet in Plessis Brion the next
day while some of the 65 Exmoor Staghounds’ supporters went hunting
wild boar, and on 12th November there was another stag hunt by the
joint pack
Anon. (2016d)
Equipage de
In 2017 Baron von Pfetten brought seven couples of foxhounds to hunt
with the Belvoir in Lincolnshire; both packs of hounds hunted together
Holliday (2017)
In addition to their hounds, hunts take a number of
vehicles and horses when hunting abroad. Trucks, lorries,
loading ramps, people and their clothing pose a
signicant risk of introducing diseases in fomites unless
everything has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
In this respect, three of the livestock diseases of particular
concern are African swine fever, classical swine fever and
FMD. African swine fever is transmitted by ticks and can
be spread by contaminated fomites: sporadic outbreaks
have been recorded in France and other northern
European countries. Classical swine fever is a highly
contagious disease of pigs spread by fomites, and wild
boar play an important epidemiological role in maintaining
the infection in Europe (Artois et al., 2002). FMD is of
particular concern since the virus can survive for long
periods under favourable conditions, and it is difcult
to prevent its spread by fomites: a very high standard
of cleaning and disinfection of people, vehicles and
equipment is required (Taylor, 2008). Since hunting trips
abroad involve visiting areas with high-risk zoonsoses,
meets with joint packs of hounds, and hunting species
such as wild boar that play an important epidemiological
role in the spread of a notiable disease (Table 3), great
care has to be taken to ensure that there is no transmission
of these diseases on fomites, or introducing tick-borne
Canine babesiosis is one of the tick-borne zoonoses of
concern. It is caused by various species of the protozoan
genus Babesia (Solano-Gallego et al., 2016). It was rst
recorded in dogs in Harlow, Essex in 2016, and its
appearance in the UK is most likely to be due to the
relaxation of controls under the EU pet travel scheme
essex). Avoidance of known tick areas, particularly during
tick seasons, use of an effective anti-tick product and
daily checking dogs for, and the effective removal of,
ticks may help reduce the risk of disease transmission
Scientic-information/Babesia-canis). Babesia annae
has recently been recorded in 46/316 (14.6%) of British
foxes (Bartley et al., 2016), highlighting the disease
risks of feeding dead foxes to hounds.
There are similar concerns with canine leishmaniosis.
At least 2.5 million dogs are infected in southwest
Europe, and the disease is spreading northwards. The
importation and relocation of dogs from endemic
countries is responsible for the growing number of
infected dogs in Germany, and there are serious
concerns about it being introduced to Britain and Ireland
(Goodfellow & Shaw, 2005; Baneth et al., 2008, 2016).
Leishmaniosis is widespread in foxhounds in North
America, where they are the main breed of dogs
maintaining the disease (page 39); they are infected
with Leishmania infantum MON1, the predominant
zymodeme found in infected dogs and humans in
southern Europe (
mendations/canineleishmaniasis). Leishmania infantum
has also been found in foxes in Europe e.g. 52.2% of
foxes from central Italy (Verin et al., 2010), 9% of foxes
from southeast France (Davoust et al., 2014) and 59.5%
of foxes from central Greece (Karayiannis et al., 2015),
further highlighting the risks of feeding dead foxes
to hounds. Thus there is every reason to suspect that
English foxhounds pose a signicant health risk should
leishmaniosis be introduced to Britain and Ireland.
Despite the risks, the control of leishmaniosis is not
well addressed by national and international authorities
(Lembo et al., 2013). ESCCAP UK & Ireland recommend
that all dogs arriving in the UK should be screened for
Leishmania spp. (ESCCAP, 2017).
The other zoonosis of particular concern that is relevant
to this review is alveolar echinococcosis, caused by
Echinococcus multilocularis. While the UK is currently
free of this parasite (Smith et al., 2003), it is spreading
in Europe (Sréter et al., 2004; Kosmider et al., 2012)
and there is a signicant risk that it will be introduced
to Britain (e.g. Kosmider et al., 2012). Foxes are the
denitive host, with dogs to a lesser extent; small rodents
are the intermediate hosts (
parasites/echinococcosis/biology.html). Echinococcus
multilocularis is one of the most pathogenic parasitic
zoonoses in central Europe (Torgerson & Budke, 2003),
and alveolar echinococcosis results in the death of
people in 10 to 15 years if untreated (Eckert et al., 2011).
Dogs may play a very important role in the transmission
of alveolar echinococcosis to humans, and in those parts
of Europe where Echinococcus multilocularis is endemic,
prevalence levels are higher in hunting hounds and
working dogs than companion animals (Table 7). So if
alveolar echinococcosis is introduced to Britain, hunting
with hounds is likely to contribute to its spread in a
number of ways. Echinococcus eggs are sticky and
adhere to tyres, shoes or animal paws, resulting in