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Making a difference for the profession, the people in it and the animals

As she steps away from the BVA officer team next month, Gudrun Ravetz celebrates the skills she has gained through an eclectic career and wonders what will come next.

Categories: Journal news


Belinda Andrews-Jones RVN, director of nursing at CVS, has been appointed to the RCVS VN Council. During her 27-year nursing career she has worked in most areas of nursing, including general practice, referral, emergency and critical care, large animal and equine, as well as teaching vet and vet nurse students. She said: ‘It is imperative that large groups of vet nurses, like those at CVS, are represented on council. RCVS decisions impact many aspects of our practices and our vet professionals, which affects our ability deliver quality veterinary nursing care.’

Cattle vet Owen Atkinson has been appointed to the Code of Practice Committee of the National Office for Animal Health (NOAH). The committee oversees NOAH’s Code on the Promotion of Animal Medicines and is comprised of 15 people, including NOAH-member vets and professionals, independent vets, farmers and a representative of the companion animal sector. He has extensive farm animal...

Categories: Journal news

Pet loss: learning to deal with clients in distress

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) has launched a two-hour ‘Introduction to Pet Bereavement Support Skills’ e-learning course for practice staff who may be faced with having difficult and sensitive conversations with clients in distress after the loss of a much-loved animal.

Handling pet loss is now an essential skill as part of RCVS Practice Standards Scheme accreditation.

The online course, which costs £35 per person, covers these key areas:

  • Empathy versus sympathy;

  • Communicating using active listening skills;

  • Open questions;

  • Face-to-face emotional support, telephone support, e-mail support and other written communication;

  • How to support yourself, the importance of self-care and useful contacts.

  • The charity also offers an accredited eight-week course for those wanting more indepth training. The Blue Cross ‘Pet Bereavement Support’ course (£280) requires a minimum of three to four hours of study per week and counts towards 32 hours...

    Categories: Journal news

    Looking for the positive

    2018 must feel like an amazing year for vet Laura Muir. Not only did she graduate from the University of Glasgow, she also achieved a gold medal in the European Championships in Berlin last week. At 25 years old, she became the first British woman to win a European gold medal in an outdoor 1500 metre race. Well done Laura!

    But this editorial isn’t about winning medals or achieving extraordinary feats, it’s about the importance of recognising and celebrating everyday successes.

    This week, we publish opinion pieces from two vets who are proud to say they think being a vet is great.

    Why all the doom and gloom about veterinary work? asks Tom Hume, vet director of a Norfolk practice. ‘I frequently find myself doing work that you wouldn’t need to pay me to do – I genuinely enjoy doing it,’ he says in his column (page 226).


    Categories: Journal news

    UK export agreement with Saudi Arabia will see no animals stunned before they are slaughtered

    By Josh Loeb

    Millions of pounds worth of UK meat from lambs slaughtered without stunning is expected to be exported to Saudi Arabia as a result of a lucrative agreement secured by the government.

    The deal, announced by food minister George Eustice in February, is estimated by Defra to be worth £25 million over the next five years.

    At the time of the announcement it was unclear whether all the animals slaughtered in the UK to provide meat for the Saudi market would be stunned before being slaughtered. However, Vet Record has now obtained evidence showing that, under current arrangements, none of the animals would be stunned.

    In April the UK Export Certification Partnership, a partnership between Defra and the livestock industry to secure market access for UK meat, issued guidance for official veterinarians and exporters for the export of ovine meat to Saudi Arabia.

    It specified that export...

    Categories: Journal news

    'Plausible risk posed by bovine TB in hounds

    By Kathryn Clark

    The government is ‘turning a blind eye’ to the biosecurity risk posed by hunts, an animal protection charity has claimed.

    The accusation by the League Against Cruel Sports follows investigations of an outbreak of bovine TB in a hunt kennel in southern England early in 2017 (see box). A report of the investigation, which was led by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, was published last month in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.1

    What did the research show?

    An interferon-gamma release assay and a serological assay were used to screen the dogs for Mycobacterium bovis. Dogs were also examined postmortem for the presence of visible lesions resulting from infection and samples from dogs with and without visible lesions were cultured for M bovis.

    Key findings of the investigation included:

  • Ninety-seven of 164 hounds tested reacted positively to at least one...

  • Categories: Journal news

    In brief

    SPVS launches survey to benchmark fees

    The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) has launched its fees survey for 2018.

    The survey enables practices to review their pricing structure and benchmark it against other practices. It is open to both members and non-members.

    SPVS says the survey is now primarily an online service, offering personalised results to participants. Members that take part are able to view the data online and see graphically how their own prices compare – both regionally and nationally. The service also offers the facility to print the summary results.

    The society notes that the greater number of practices that respond, the more informative the results become.

    Members who enter will also be in with the chance of winning an iPad and Apple Pencil, while non-members may win a three-month free membership to SPVS.

    To take part, visit www.spvs.org.uk

    New test for detecting...
    Categories: Journal news

    Gumtree takes action to tackle illegal pet trade

    By Georgina Mills

    Classified site Gumtree has announced a compulsory paywall in its ‘pets’ category in a bid to prevent unscrupulous operators from misusing the platform.

    From 6 August, anyone wishing to post an advert in Gumtree’s pets category will be required to pay a £2.99 fee – a big shift for the site which has always branded itself as ‘free for all users’.

    Since its inception in 2001, Gumtree says it has tried to take steps to ensure that the platform is a ‘safe and ethical place’ to buy and sell pets. It works closely with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group – an advisory group made up of 23 animal welfare organisations, trade associations and the veterinary profession that promotes responsible pet advertising and the safe trading of animals via online adverts.

    Despite these efforts, the illegal pet trade continues across free classified sites. Gumtree believes that a...

    Categories: Journal news

    VetPartners acquired by private equity firm

    Private equity firm BC Partners is to acquire a majority stake in the nationwide group VetPartners in what is thought to be one of the largest ever takeovers in the UK veterinary sector.

    In a statement released last week, BC Partners confirmed it had reached an agreement to buy the stake from investment firms Ares Management and August Equity.

    Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, but it is thought the deal is worth around £700 million.

    Ares is to reinvest £595 million to support BC Partners’ acquisition, and the management team, led by VetPartners chief executive Jo Malone, will also invest in the company.

    York-based VetPartners was founded in 2015 and is a leading operator of small animal, mixed and equine veterinary practices, with more than 300 locations across Britain, including 89 practices.

    The company says it has ambitious plans that include growing its customer base,...

    Categories: Journal news

    Investigating a whale mass mortality event

    In 2016, 30 sperm whales died having stranded in the southern North Sea. Researchers have now investigated what caused this. Georgina Mills reports

    Categories: Journal news

    Investigating bovine TB in an expensive alpaca

    Jessica Li, a fourth year vet student at Cambridge University, spent her EMS placement with Vet Record last week. She used part of her time to delve deeper into the case of Geronimo, the alpaca which tested positive for bovine TB, and the implications for future camelid testing.

    Categories: Journal news

    Ovine coccidiosis cases reach eight-year high in Scotland

    SRUC VS disease Surveillance report for May 2018

  • Deaths due to black disease in adult beef cattle

  • Increased outbreaks of ovine coccidiosis

  • Inclusion body rhinitis in piglets

  • The mean temperature in Scotland in May was 1.9°C above the long-term average, making it the equal warmest May (alongside 2008) since 1910. It was the sunniest May since 1929 with rainfall 55 per cent of average.

    CattleGeneralised and systemic conditions

    Severe clinical signs of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) were noted in a one-year-old Aberdeen Angus cross bullock that was euthanased on welfare grounds and submitted to Ayr for postmortem examination. It had been purchased six weeks earlier but developed excessive salivation, erosion of the nasal planum and extensive skin sloughing from the hind legs, face and inguinal region (Fig 1).

    Pulpy kidney (Clostridium perfringens type D enterotoxaemia) in sheep

    Pulpy kidney remains a common diagnosis...

    Categories: Journal news

    Correction: Inadequate feeding and grazing leads to illthrift and death in cattle and sheep

    In the SRUC VS surveillance report for April 2018 (VR, 14 July 2018, vol 183, pp 51–54) ingestion of hemlock (Conium maculatum) was incorrectly reported as causing the death of outwintered cattle. The plant responsible for the losses was in fact hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata). The error is regretted.

    Categories: Journal news

    Pestivirus infection of sheep - testing times?

    Bovine viral diarrhoea in cattle and border disease in sheep are caused by infection with the pestiviruses bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) and border disease virus (BDV), respectively, although either virus is capable of infecting both species with comparable outcomes.1,2

    In sheep, acute (or transient) BDV infection is generally mild and leads to seroconversion and clearance of the virus, although some strains with increased pathogenicity have been observed.2–4 The main effect of border disease is seen when pregnant ewes are infected, leading to infertility, abortion, stillbirth and birth of small and weak lambs. Surviving lambs may show nervous signs and changes to the fleece, giving rise to the term ‘hairy shakers’ for infected lambs (Fig 1), although some infected lambs may appear normal. Such lambs are persistently infected (PI) with BDV and, like calves persistently infected with BVDV, they...

    Categories: Journal news

    Serological survey of British sheep flocks for evidence of exposure to ovine pestiviruses

    Ovine pestiviruses have the potential to reduce productivity in the British sheep flock. However, their prevalence and impact are currently poorly understood. This study aimed to estimate the exposure to pestiviruses in adult breeding ewe stock. Blood samples collected for metabolic profiling before lambing were tested using an ELISA that detected antibodies raised to both bovine viral diarrhoea virus and Border disease virus. A group of 15 animals were tested per flock. A total of 34 farms were tested, of which 13 had at least one seropositive animal. In those positive flocks between one and nine of the animals tested antibody-positive. Positive flocks were identified in all regions of Great Britain. This work suggests that exposure to ovine pestiviruses is widespread, and that it is timely to investigate flock-level prevalence and possible production impacts of endemic infection.

    Categories: Journal news

    PDGFR-{alpha}, PDGFR-{beta}, VEGFR-2 and CD117 expression in canine mammary tumours and evaluation of the in vitro effects of toceranib phosphate in neoplastic mammary cell lines

    Canine mammary tumours (CMTs) are one of the most common malignancies in bitches. Platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) α and β, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) and CD117 are tyrosine kinase receptors involved in several tumours and represent suitable targets for specific therapy with toceranib phosphate. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the expression of these receptors in the pathogenesis and progression of CMTs. PDGFRα, PDGFRβ, VEGFR-2 and CD117 were expressed in 46/83 (55.4 per cent), 33/83 (39.8 per cent), 46/83 (55.4 per cent) and 32/83 (38.5 per cent) of CMTs, respectively. Immunohistochemical results showed a statistically significant loss of PDGFRα and PDGFRβ expression in simple carcinomas compared with complex/mixed carcinomas. Protein expression by western blot revealed specific bands corresponding to PDGFRα and VEGFR-2 in 3/7 and in 1/7 cell lines. Moreover, in vitro treatment showed that toceranib phosphate weakly reduced cell proliferation in one canine mammary cell line. Before considering TKR inhibitors for possible therapeutic approaches, actually further studies are necessary to evaluate the effect of these drugs on CMTs in vivo.

    Categories: Journal news

    Elevated platforms for weaners: do pigs use the extra space?

    Split-level housing systems for pigs may be a simple and relatively inexpensive method for increasing space allowance in existing livestock buildings. Additionally, a second level allows the pigs to structure their pen into different functional areas, and thus can contribute to pig welfare.1–3 First studies investigating the possibility of introducing a plateau unit into a pig’s pen were carried out almost 30 years ago.4–7 Nevertheless, until today, split-level pens do not represent a well-established housing system although keeping pigs in such pens can have several advantages. This is largely due to the fact that the additional space provided on a plateau is often not considered to fulfil legal spatial requirements for pigs. However, recently in the Netherlands, it was decided that the plateaus did in fact meet Dutch statutory space requirements.8 The question arises...

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    A salivary biomarker for pyometra in dogs

    F. Tecles, D. Escribano and others

    Veterinary Journal 236 (2018) 102-110


    • What did the research find?

    Salivary adenosine deaminase (ADA) activity was higher in bitches with pyometra than in healthy bitches and was significantly correlated with serum inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting it could be a result of systemic inflammation.

    There were no differences between salivary α-amylase activity in healthy bitches and bitches with pyometra.

    • How was it conducted?

    Bitches undergoing ovariohysterectomy were divided into two groups: 26 diagnosed with pyometra and 19 healthy dogs without pyometra. Bitches with pyometra were classified according to their physical status using a scoring system adapted from the American Society of Anaesthesiologist (ASA grade). Their saliva was collected with salivette tubes with a sponge where each dog was allowed to chew the sponge until it was thoroughly moist. The samples were then analysed to measure...

    Categories: Journal news

    Johnes disease control programmes

    I write in response to the letter from Catriona Ritchie (VR, 28 July 2018, vol 183, p 134) regarding the use of blood sampling to augment Johne’s disease control programmes in dairy herds.

    A significant diagnostic problem with mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, and other mycobacterial infections, is that both detectable immunological responses and organisms can be intermittent and are generally not constant.

    Recent work has clearly demonstrated that the ELISA antibody response is triggered by an initial period of shedding with the antibody response increasing typically one to two months later.1 Comparing different tests, particularly within different time frames, is fraught with difficulty.2 The conclusion appears to be that the most progress is made by the selection of a test, or tests, that you have confidence in and to simply repeat that test as often as the farmer can afford.

    Research showed that the sensitivity...

    Categories: Journal news
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