Journal news

Time to love the word 'no

There are lots of long words in the veterinary vocabulary but sometimes it’s the smallest words that are the hardest to learn, says Fabian Rivers, recent graduate rep on BVA Council.

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My encounters with animals - especially funny ones - influence the stories I write

Irish vet Austin Donnelly is a part-time vet and an author. While travelling abroad, it was the adventures he wrote about in letters to friends and family that inspired him to write his first book.

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Why are live exports continuing now?

The issue of live exports has long been controversial but has assumed new potency in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Across Europe, where movement of people and goods has been ‘free and frictionless’ for decades because of the EU, movement restrictions suddenly sprang up last month in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19. This led to long queues of traffic, according to the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).

From the border between Lithuania and Poland came reports of jams stretching for 40 km. On the German side of the border with Poland there were queues of 65 km – and 18-hour wait times. The local fire brigade reportedly had to be called in to provide water to livestock.

While the increased journey times for livestock have thankfully eased in recent days, at the EU’s external borders logjam is still apparently the norm.

That’s because border security...

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What is EU doing about live animal exports?

By Josh Loeb

Animal welfare groups have accused the EU of paying ‘no regard’ to animal welfare by allowing live exports to continue despite ‘very long queues’ at borders.

More than 30 welfare organisations have signed a letter demanding that all live exports from EU countries to non-EU countries stop completely and movements within the EU be limited to a maximum of eight hours.

Since Covid-19 movement restrictions were introduced early last month some European countries have closed or partially closed their borders. This has caused logjams on some roads, with knock-on effects for livestock.

A coalition of welfare groups, including Compassion in World Farming and the pan-European Eurogroup for Animals, says the EU is flouting its own rules by refusing to place time limits on movements of livestock between European countries and by refusing to stop onward transport to non-EU countries.

The Treaty of the Functioning of the...

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Covid-19 crisis forces CVS to cut services

By Adele Waters

CVS has shut half its small animal practices and furloughed affected staff in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company said the move to close practices – around one-third of the company’s overall capacity in its small animal division – was necessary following a ‘significant reduction in both small animal billable visits and revenue’ during the government lockdown.

Announcing half-yearly financial results last week, chairman Richard Connell said: ‘We are taking a number of actions to maintain cash during this period of increased uncertainty. These include furloughing of a number of under-utilised employees, practice closures in order to reduce variable costs and to protect employees, and the cessation of discretionary spend.’

He said all clients would continue to be able to access practices for urgent and emergency care within a 40-minute drive. Clients with non-urgent or non-emergency cases would be offered teleconsultations and charged at normal...

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Lucys law

New legislation banning third-party sales of puppies and kittens comes into force in England this week.

Dubbed ‘Lucy’s law’ after a spaniel used for breeding at a puppy farm in south Wales, the law takes effect on 6 April and will make it illegal for puppies and kittens to be sold commercially by anyone other than their breeder. Buyers will no longer be able to purchase from pet shops or commercial dealers and will instead have to deal directly with a breeder or a rehoming centre.

Similar legislation is planned in the devolved regions of the UK, but has yet to be introduced.

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'Most vaccinations should not be carried out

By Josh Loeb

Most vaccination of animals should cease during the current three-week lockdown period, the president of the BVA has said.

However, Daniella Dos Santos (pictured right) also said current emergency guidance for vets about vaccination is likely to be altered if lockdown restrictions are extended. She also said vets should exercise professional discretion and use their judgement around when vaccinations should be carried out.

Dos Santos’ statement, made during the second of her now weekly webinars on Covid-19, followed reports of practices taking differing stances on whether, and when, to vaccinate animals during the ongoing UK-wide lockdown.

Vets are meant to have ceased all ‘routine’ work and are only supposed to be undertaking work that is regarded as essential at the current time (VR, 28 March 2020, vol 186, pp 366–367).

We know that the profession has been frustrated

‘The BVA has been inundated with calls...

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Practices respond to call to help the NHS

By Josh Loeb

Hundreds of vet practices have come forward with offers of human-compatible ventilators to assist NHS intensive care units in saving lives.

Offers of help and equipment from the vet sector have been coming thick and fast

Offers of help and equipment from the vet sector have been coming thick and fast since the Covid-19 crisis began, and the profession’s efforts were this week praised by veterinary leaders including BVA president Daniella Dos Santos and UK chief vet Christine Middlemiss.

In her weekly webinar about the crisis, Dos Santos revealed that, alongside the drive by vets to free up ventilators for the health service, NHS trusts had been getting in touch with vet practices directly to request personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks.

‘When requests have reached us, we have shared names of suppliers with [the NHS trusts] and this seems to be the...

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In other covid-19 news

• UK-practising vets are to be allowed to spread the cost of their annual renewal fees over the calendar year. The RCVS council has agreed that fees can be paid in three instalments – 50 per cent by 30 April, 25 per cent by 30 September and 25 per cent by 31 December. Kit Sturgess, RCVS treasurer, said: ‘We recognise that most veterinary businesses will be seeing a downtown during the coronavirus lockdown, especially as veterinary practices reduce their workloads to emergency-only procedures or those that can be classed as urgent. Furthermore, we understand that many individual veterinary surgeons will no longer be working, and that this will cause financial difficulties for many vets and their families.’ The RCVS would review the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on an ongoing basis, he said. Details of the new payment arrangements will be sent out shortly.

• The British Small Animal...

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Just another day for wildlife...

Josh Loeb discusses how he and others have been admiring nature from the safety of their homes.

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Lay TB testers 'at least as good as OVs

By Georgina Mills

Lay TB testers have been given the green light to work in private practices in England from the end of this year.

The move follows a pilot trial by the APHA to evaluate the use of approved tuberculin testers (ATTs) in private vet businesses in England.

The pilot examined methods and procedures around the use of ATTs by private vet businesses and involved 19 vet practices and 22 ATTs.

Last week, the APHA reported the pilot had been ‘very successful’. It said the majority of the delivery criteria were met and the few issues that did arise were ‘managed effectively’.

ATTs have been permitted to perform TB testing of cattle in Great Britain since 2005, but this has been restricted to a small number of suitably trained APHA staff under APHA vet supervision.

ATTs taking part in the pilot gave positive feedback on the quality of...

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Badger cull figures condemned as 'appalling

More than 35,000 badgers were culled in England in 2019 in badger control operations carried out as part of the government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB (bTB).

Figures released by Natural England on 27 March revealed that 35,054 badgers were removed across the 43 areas in which culling was carried out last year. Both the chief vet, Christine Middlemiss, and Natural England’s chief scientist, Tim Hill, concluded that all the cull areas had delivered the level of effectiveness needed to be confident of achieving disease control benefits.

The BVA said the culling figures offered ‘an insight into the immense effort being put in place to carry out this part of the government bTB control strategy’.

James Russell, BVA junior vice president, said: ‘BVA continues to support a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to tackling bTB using all the available tools in the toolbox, including the use of badger culling...

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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, March 2020

APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Mannheimiosis in dairy herds

  • Joint ill in neonatal lambs

  • Septicaemia due to Klebsiella pneumoniae subspecies pneumoniae in piglets

  • Localised mortality in red squirrels in north-east England

  • Focus on tickborne diseases of sheep

  • Highlights from the scanning surveillance networkCattleMannheimiosis

    Several outbreaks of mannheimiosis have been diagnosed recently in dairy herds. Disease due to Mannheimia haemolytica infection occurs predominantly in calves; it occasionally affects neonates, most likely in association with insufficient colostrum intake.

    Septicaemic infection by M haemolytica was confirmed by the APHA Starcross Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC) as the cause of the deaths of both unweaned and weaned calves in a dairy herd where 260 calves of various ages were housed in group pens in a single large shed.

    One unweaned and one weaned calf were submitted for postmortem examination. At the time of submission, four calves had...

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    Tickborne diseases of sheep

    This focus article has been prepared by Amanda Carson, Sian Mitchell, Paul Phipps, Michele Macrelli and Elizabeth Dunnett of the APHA.

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    Is there a link between tobacco smoke exposure and the development of alimentary lymphoma in cats?

    Lymphoma is the most common tumour affecting cats, and the incidence of this tumour type appears to be higher in cats than in any other species. Despite this, the potential causes of lymphoma, and the risk factors associated with its development, have not been well investigated. Most epidemiological studies instead place greater emphasis on descriptions of presentation, anatomical sites involved, treatment protocol selected and response to treatment.

    It is well documented that both feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and, to a lesser extent, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infections are associated with a markedly increased incidence of tumour development, particularly lymphomas. FeLV can increase the risk of – usually T cell – lymphoma occurrence 60-fold, whereas FIV (typically causing B cell lymphoma) increases the risk around five- or six-fold.1

    The prevalence of FIV has changed little over the years, but FeLV infection rates have decreased dramatically in many countries...

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    Hair nicotine concentration of cats with gastrointestinal lymphoma and unaffected control cases


    A previous study showed an association between owner-reported exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and lymphoma in cats. This study aimed to investigate the association between ETS exposure and gastrointestinal lymphoma in cats, using hair nicotine concentration (HNC) as a biomarker.


    This was a prospective, multi-centre, case–control study. Gastrointestinal lymphoma was diagnosed on cytology or histopathology. Hair samples were obtained from 35 cats with gastrointestinal lymphoma and 32 controls. Nicotine was extracted from hair by sonification in methanol followed by hydrophilic interaction chromatography with mass spectrometry. Non-parametric tests were used.


    The median HNC of the gastrointestinal lymphoma and control groups was not significantly different (0.030 ng/mg and 0.029 ng/mg, respectively, p=0.46). When the HNC of all 67 cats was rank ordered and divided into quartiles, there was no significant difference in the proportion of lymphoma cases or controls within these groups (p=0.63). The percentage of cats with an HNC≥0.1 ng/mg was higher for the lymphoma group (22.9%) than the control group (15.6%) but failed to reach significance (p=0.45).


    A significant association was not identified between HNC (a biomarker for ETS) and gastrointestinal lymphoma in cats; however, an association may exist and further studies are therefore required.

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    Campylobacter prevalence and risk factors associated with exceeding allowable limits in poultry slaughterhouses in Spain


    Campylobacter is the main pathogen involved in zoonotic gastrointestinal diseases. In 2018, European Regulation 2017/1495 on Campylobacter in broiler carcases came into force. In this context, the aim of the study was to assess the potential risk factors associated with exceeding the 1000 cfu/g (colony-forming units per gram) limit set by the EC in several slaughterhouses in Spain.


    Data relating to 12 factors were collected using questionnaires. Samples were collected from 12 Spanish abattoirs in June, July and August 2017 (n=1725) and were analysed following the ISO 10272-2:2006 method.


    The proportion of Campylobacter-positive samples was 23.7 per cent (n=409). Analysis of flock age (41–50 days) revealed a significantly increased odds ratio (OR) in Campylobacter enumeration (OR=7.41). Moreover, scalding temperature (51.9°C–54°C) was positively associated with an increase in OR (OR=2.75). Time in transit to slaughter for 1–1.5 hours showed a significant decrease in OR (OR=0.25), while time in transit for more than two hours showed an increase in OR (OR=4.44). With regard to carcase weight, a weight of 3.21–3.58 kg showed a decrease in OR (OR=0.01).


    The outcomes of this study suggest that although most chickens are contaminated by the bacterium, the prevalence of those exceeding the 1000 cfu/g limit is not so high as thought.

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    Survival and fertility of bitches undergoing caesarean section


    With the increasing popularity of planned caesarean section, the need for knowledge regarding this surgery has become increasingly important. The reported death and survival rates for caesarean sections vary widely. Another important aspect is the fertility rate in subsequent oestrous after caesarean section. The aim of this study was to investigate the mortality and survival rate of bitches during caesarean section. Additionally, the fertility of bitches after caesarean sections was determined.


    Caesarean sections which were performed in the years 1997–2009 at two university clinics were evaluated retrospectively. A distinction was made between bitches in which a conservative caesarean section was performed and bitches with a caesarean section followed by an ovariohysterectomy.


    A total of 482 caesarean sections were included in the study. The overall mortality rate was 3.11 per cent, with 2.59 per cent during or after a conservative caesarean section and 4.19 per cent during or after caesarean section with ovariohysterectomy. The reason for ovariohysterectomy was the owner’s preference in 63 bitches (47.01 per cent); in 71 (52.98 per cent) bitches, ovariohysterectomy was performed due to a medical indication. The fertility rate after caesarean section was 100 per cent.


    The results show a high mortality rate during and after caesarean section. On the other hand, caesarean section does not seem to have a big impact on further fertility. Further studies are needed to investigate possible reduction of litter sizes and the suitability of caesarean section in subsequent pregnancies.

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    Do rescue dogs’ online profile pictures affect adoption speed?

    M. Nakamura, N. Dhand, B. J. Wilson and others

    Animals (2020) 10

    doi: 10.3390/ani10010152

    • What did the research find?

    The photographic attributes associated with the shortest length of stay were mouths closed, a black coat colour, floppy ears and being photographed in a kennel environment. Erect ears and being photographed outside were associated with the longest stays. Professional quality photographs and the presence of an accessory in the photograph were both associated with a significantly longer than average length of stay.

    • How was it conducted?

    The online profile photographs of all Staffordshire bull terriers, Labrador retrievers and Jack Russell terriers that were listed on the PetRescue website between 2004 and 2013 were examined. Attributes noted for each photograph included ear placement, coat colour and pattern, facial markings, whether the mouth was open, visibility of the sclera, the background...

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