A number of hares that died from the fatal disease pseudotuberculosis were found in all districts of the island recently except for Famagusta, according to an announcement by the Game Fund.
The Game Fund located a number of dead hares during the January to April 2012 hunting period. From these hares around six were good enough to conduct a post-mortem on, from which it was discovered they died from pseudotuberculosis.
Head of the Game Fund Pantelis Hadjigerou reassured yesterday on the state broadcaster’s third radio programme that the disease has not spread to any more animals and there has been no indication of it having spread to humans.
The disease is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and the animal becomes infected orally, by ingesting water and food that has been contaminated with the bacteria, said the announcement.
“The disease can potentially be transmitted to humans that’s why we wanted to let people know and advise them that they should cook the hares very well and if they notice that the intestines are a strange colour they should not eat them,” Game Fund official Petros Anayiotos told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
He also stressed that hunters should under no circumstances feed the intestines to their dogs or the disease will be transmitted to them. “If their dogs do transmit it they’ll know at some point from the dog’s appearance as they will tend to lose weight,” said Anayiotos.
This is one of the symptoms including an enlarged spleen and necrosis of tissue.
This is the first time that the disease has appeared in Cyprus due to the high humidity and low temperatures over the winter and early spring period. It is a more common disease in hares in central Europe.
According to the announcement, as it is the first time it has appeared on the island the Veterinary Services are looking into it. They also reassured that since the weather has warmed up the cycle of the disease has ended. Since April no more dead hares have been found.
Hunters are advised to lay off hunting hares for a while to allow the numbers to rise again and the hare population to replenish. If they find any dead hares they are advised to get in contact with their district Game Fund office to report where the hare was found.
By Natalie Hami