Squirrel pox is highly deadly to red squirrels.
The disease is carried by grey squirrels, but they are unaffected by it, however, if it is caught by red squirrels, there is a 95% fatality rate within 15 days.
The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels organisation has moved to nip this possible outbreak in the bud.
Community engagement officer Sarah Cooper told us: “There have now been multiple cases of suspected squirrel pox reported to us from Cardrona and the surrounding area.
Residents in Cardrona are being asked to put this poster in their house and car windows.
“We don’t have post mortems for these red squirrels, so we can’t say for certain that it was squirrel pox.
“However, the condition of the squirrels – lesions around the eyes in particular – leads us to believe that it is highly likely these squirrels had squirrel pox.”
She asked for locals to watch out for the signs, saying: “We would like everyone to remain vigilant and report any sightings of sick red squirrels to us at [email protected]
“Red or grey squirrels can be reported at scottishsquirrels.org.uk, but we would like anyone to please get in touch with myself at the aforementioned email address directly if they see a sick red squirrel.
“If people can take photos/film of the squirrel, that will help us hugely in determining whether it may have squirrel pox.
“Signs to look out for include lesions around the eyes, mouth and paws, and the squirrel may have difficulty eating and climbing.
“If anyone has caught a red squirrel, we ask that they please contact their local vet or the SSPCA after notifying us.
“I have also asked, as a precaution, that everyone in Cardrona or nearby please take their bird and squirrel feeders in, until we know the extent of the situation.
“Feeders mean that squirrels come into close contact with each other and the risk of transmitting the pox virus is much greater.
“Red squirrels can also pass the pox virus to each other.
“Virkon S can be used to disinfect empty feeders which cannot be brought in.
“With regards to trapping, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) have currently halted trapping due to the current Covid 19 restrictions.”
The group has publshed a poster on its Facebook page (shown above), and has asked for those who can do so, to print it out and display it in their house and car windows.
Sarah added: “We have asked that people refrain from putting posters up around their town as we don’t want to encourage anyone to go out of their way and break with social distancing guidelines.”