Journal news

Prevalence of Seoul hantavirus in UK wild rats: an emerging public health problem?

Seoul hantavirus (SEOV) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen in the UK. SEOV is transmitted from infected rats to people via inhalation of aerosolised virus in rat urine and faeces. Infected rats are asymptomatic and are likely to remain persistently infected while intermittently excreting the virus throughout their life.1

The virus was first identified in laboratory rats in Scotland in 1977.2 Since this time, a number of serosurveillance studies in the UK have shown serological evidence of exposure to hantaviruses.3 From these studies, the main risk factor for hantavirus infection was thought to be occupational exposure, particularly for those working in rural areas (eg, agricultural workers), pest control workers and sewage workers.

In these studies, those testing positive for antibodies to hantaviruses reported mild symptoms such as flu-like symptoms and sore throat, with some exhibiting minor liver and kidney impairment. However, as the diagnostic...

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Detection of Seoul virus in wild brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) from pig farms in Northern England


Hantaviruses are maintained by mammalian hosts, such as rodents, and are shed in their excretions. Clinical disease can occur in humans from spillover infection. Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) are the globally distributed reservoir host of Seoul virus (SEOV). Human cases of SEOV-associated haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (SEOV-HFRS)have been reported in Great Britain (GB) since 1977.


Brown rats (n=68) were trapped from a variety of peridomestic locations, with a focus on pig farms. Kidney and lung tissues were tested for viral RNA using a pan-hantavirus RT-PCR assay followed by Sanger sequencing and analysis.


SEOV RNA was detected in 19 per cent (13/68, 95% CI 11 to 30) of rats and all sequences fell within SEOV lineage 9. Twelve sequences were highly similar to each other and to the previously reported GB Humber strain of SEOV (98 per cent). One rat SEOV sequence was more distant. The SEOV prevalence in rats from pig farms was significantly greater (p=0.047) than other sites sampled. No significant sex or age differences were observed among positive and negative rats.


The results from this study suggest that SEOV could be widespread in wild rats in GB and therefore pose a potential risk to public health.

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Chronic kidney disease in cats attending primary care practice in the UK: a VetCompassTM study

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a frequent diagnosis in cats attending primary care practice and the most frequent cause of death in cats aged over five years, yet there is limited published research for CKD in cats attending primary care practice. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of CKD and investigate risk factors for diagnosis and survival of cats diagnosed with CKD in UK primary care practices. The study included cats attending VetCompassTM practices from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013. A nested case-control and cohort study were undertaken. From 353,448 cats attending 244 clinics, the prevalence of CKD was estimated as 1.2 per cent (95 per cent CI 1.1 per cent to 1.3 per cent). Most cats with CKD had clinical signs at diagnosis (66.6 per cent). Few cats underwent investigations or monitoring of serum creatinine (32.6 per cent), urine protein:creatinine ratio (14.9 per cent) or blood pressure measurement (25.6 per cent). A proprietary renal diet was the most frequently prescribed management (63.8 per cent). Median survival time following diagnosis was 388 days (IQR 88–1042 days). This study provides generalisable evidence from the wider cat population to aid veterinarians in improved diagnosis and management of CKD that can benefit the health and welfare of cats with CKD in the UK.

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Palmar/plantar approach for radiographic-guided injection of the equine distal interphalangeal joint collateral ligament insertion

There are limited radiographic-guided injection techniques of the insertion of the distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ) collateral ligaments. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a palmar/plantar radiographic-guided injection of the collateral ligament insertion in cadavers. Fifty limbs were used to develop the technique and 24 additional limbs were used to evaluate accuracy. An 18 G, 9 cm spinal needle was placed in the depression between the palmar digital neurovascular bundle and arch of the ungular cartilage with dorsodistal advancement towards the distal phalanx collateral fossa. Radiographs verified ideal needle location on the proximal border of the distal phalanx at the collateral fossa. Dye was injected. Hoof walls were partially removed and collateral ligaments were dissected with needles in place to determine needle and dye location. Accuracy of needle placement into the insertion of the DIPJ collateral ligament was 41/48 (85 per cent), with lower accuracy of dye within the ligament (34/48; 71 per cent). Dye entered the DIPJ in 2/48 injections, but dye entered periligamentous structures in 22/48 (46 per cent) injections. A palmar/plantar radiographic-guided injection of the insertion of the DIPJ collateral ligament had high accuracy rate with low injection rate of the DIPJ in cadavers.

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Selected highlights from other journals

Carnitine insufficiency linked to obesity in dogs

J. Söder, K. Höglund, J. Dicksved and others

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (2019) 61

doi: 10.1186/s13028-019-0446-4

• What did the research find?

A postprandial increase in amino acid concentrations was detected in all the sampled dogs, but, in contrast with findings in people, the obese dogs did not exhibit higher concentrations than the lean dogs. Lower free carnitine concentrations were found in obese dogs compared with lean dogs. However, no effect of meal intake on plasma concentrations of carnitine was observed, despite the test food containing meat-derived carnitine precursors.

• How was it conducted?

Twenty-eight healthy male Labrador retriever dogs were included in this study. Of these 12 were classified as lean and 16 were classified as obese. Blood samples were collected after an overnight fast (14 to 17 hours). The dogs were then fed a high-fat meal, and postprandial blood samples were...

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Gender pay gap

It was shocking and disappointing to find two of the four largest gender pay gaps in British companies with over 5000 employees are at veterinary corporates – Independent Vetcare and CVS.1

Gender pay gaps can also reflect a lack of women in senior positions and a lack of parity in pay

Gender pay gaps are often attributed to disproportionately more lower paid roles being filled by women, and to family-friendly policies on part-time working. However, they can also reflect a lack of women in senior positions and a lack of parity in pay.

In light of the recent work done by Michelle Ryan and Chris Begeny on gender discrimination and pay in the veterinary profession (VR, 17 November 2018, vol 183, p 580), it seems timely to ask for an explanation and justification of these findings.

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EU listing of the UK

Your report on the UK being approved as a listed third country (VR, 13 April 2019, vol 184, p 460) failed to mention that the UK has had to demonstrate that we meet the stringent health and biosecurity requirements to trade with EU countries. It is important to stress that, although the process has been expedited, the requirements have not been watered down.

We want to pay tribute to the incredibly hard work of government vets and their policy colleagues across the four administrations of the UK who are the unsung heroes of this achievement.

Amid all of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the announcement was certainly a very welcome piece of news. It doesn’t detract from the pressure of the increased need for veterinary certification, but it avoids the nightmare scenario that many vets and farmers feared – that no animals or animal products could be exported in a...

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Prepurchase consultation resources

The PDSA fully supports BVA junior vice president, Daniella Dos Santos, in her promotion of prepurchase consultations (VR, 13 April 2019, vol 184, p 459). To assist veterinary teams to deliver these consultations, we would like to highlight PDSA’s WhichPet? resources, which are free for all veterinary practices to download from

Lack of prepurchase research is identified as an important root cause of many preventable health and welfare problems in companion animals; the 2018 PDSA animal wellbeing (PAW) report found that 5.2 million pet owners (24 per cent) did no research at all before taking on their pet.1

The BVA and British Veterinary Nurse Association voice of the profession survey results, reported in the 2018 PAW report, show that 13 per cent of practices are now offering free, dedicated prepurchase clinics. Veterinary professionals estimate that 71 per cent of potential pet owners join the...

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Aggressive skin lesions in pigs

We would like to report a case of an aggressive skin lesion of unknown aetiology in two pigs.

The shedding of large, crusting areas of epidermis was observed, and the underlying dermis was purulent, raw and intensely painful

The affected animals, nine-month-old saddleback gilts, were living in a paddock of approximately 20 animals. Lesions were pyodermic, non-pruritic and primarily localised to the shoulders with lesser degrees of erosion from the top of the head down to the lower back. Both pigmented and non-pigmented skin was affected. The shedding of large, crusting areas of epidermis was observed, and the underlying dermis was purulent, raw and intensely painful.

Initial treatment with oxytetracycline hydrochloride topical spray and a single dose of amoxicillin trihydrate did not show any clinical benefit. Complete recovery was achieved by administering lincomycin hydrochloride and meloxicam daily for five days and continuing the use of the topical oxytetracycline...

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Seizures in cats caused by eating

We are seeking cases of suspected seizures in cats triggered by one or more elements of eating for phenotypic characterisation. The aim is that this will help with future management and understanding of this very rare and complex disorder.

Eating is defined by the act of putting food into the mouth followed by chewing and swallowing. As well as eating, other specific food-related stimuli like mastication, the thought or sight of food, or just drinking can also trigger ‘eating’ seizures.1-3 These seizures occur in approximately only one per 1000 to 2000 of all human epileptic patients,1 can be of variable semiology4 but have never been reported in cats.

In people, eating seizures are frequently classified as a reflex seizure, which is defined as one consistently precipitated by environmental or internal stimuli and is differentiated from spontaneous epileptic seizures in which precipitating...

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Goat medicine and diseases: a guide for practitioners

Reviewed by Pam Brown a mixed practice vet at Alnorthumbria Vets, Wooler.

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New book on common conditions seen in donkeys

The Clinical Companion of the Donkey is the brand new and completely updated guide to common conditions in donkeys produced by the international animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary.

The book is a multiauthor text with contributions from vets, equine dental technicians, harness specialists, behaviourists and researchers – all with extensive, practical donkey experience.

Clearly laid out with bullet points and highlighted text boxes, the book is well illustrated with clear photographs showing clinical conditions. There are seven appendices that can be used as quick reference guides to help vets in practice.

Without covering the same ground as other excellent textbooks, The Clinical Companion of the Donkey concentrates on those differences in the equine species that are specific to the donkey. A new chapter on donkey behaviour has been included, as this is fundamental to understanding this unique animal’s requirements for handling, nursing and treatment and the presentation of...

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Allan Christie Annat

A dedicated, accomplished and compassionate vet, who made a difference. He had boundless energy and endless jokes, and enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm about being a vet with students.

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Should BVA take a stand on government plan for migration salary threshold?

Should BVA do more than just highlight the potential consequences of a government proposal for a salary threshold for anyone migrating to the UK after Brexit?

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Addressing priority animal welfare problems

As part of its Animal Welfare Strategy BVA has committed to raising awareness of, and encouraging action on, more than 100 priority animal welfare problems identified with the help of its species-specialist divisions. Council members were given an update on progress so far.

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How can BVA offer more to members?

Council members were asked to suggest ways in which BVA could enhance the services it offers.

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Council news in brief

Welfare at slaughter

Following a meeting with Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove, BVA has been invited to a roundtable organised by Defra to discuss policy around non-stun slaughter. The roundtable, which will take place next month, will involve representatives from religious groups, animal welfare organisations and industry and will look for areas of consensus where policy reform may be possible.

policy working groups formed

BVA’s Policy Committee has convened three working groups to review and develop policy positions on: the control and eradication of bovine TB; a vision and voluntary standards for good veterinary workplaces; and welfare around the time of slaughter. This last group will examine the whole slaughter process, not just methods of stunning.

Junior vice president 2019/20

Council members supported the nomination of James Russell as BVA Junior Vice President for 2019/20. Mr Russell’s name will now go forward for approval at BVA’s...

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Marketing within the livestock industry has been at the heart of my career

Vet Louise Radford is driven by variety, change and teamwork, and always enjoys travelling. Her career spent working in industry has met these needs.

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Vet nurse research bursary

Applications are open for MSD Animal Health’s veterinary nurse (VN) research bursary. Student or qualified VNs in the UK are invited to submit an application for a research project and the best one will be awarded a bursary of £1000. There will be a further opportunity to win additional prizes of £1000 and £500 for the best proposals and presentations at the MSD Animal Health’s Research Bursary Day in June.

Michelle Townley, veterinary adviser at MSD Animal Health said: ‘We are delighted that we’ve had such a positive response from vet nurses since we launched this new research bursary last year. We want to encourage as many as possible to apply. We view our investment in research, and the pursuit of new knowledge, as the lifeblood of the veterinary industry.’

Applications must be made by 10 May, and additional information and details are available at

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supporting education around livestock health and welfare

Funding is available to support individuals wishing to broaden their experience and education around livestock health and welfare. Applications are now open for the 2019 Moredun Foundation Award Scheme.

The scheme offers individuals the opportunity to pursue a short-term project to broaden their education, and projects may involve work experience, travel, or collaborations with science or the arts. They are available to members of the Moredun Foundation. The award aims to support personal development, education and valuable experience as well as contributing to Moredun’s mission. It is open to a wide variety of project proposals with £2000 available per award.

Lee Innes, Moredun’s director of communications, said: ‘We are very keen at Moredun to promote the value of education, experience and travel to improve understanding of the farming and livestock industries, and provide individuals with the opportunity to further their experiences and personal development. We are excited about the...

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