Journal news

Feather pecking, rabbit housing and fireworks policy positions approved

Subject to minor amendments, Council members approved new BVA policy positions on feather pecking in poultry and on the housing of rabbits. Both issues had been identified as priority welfare problems as part of the BVA Animal Welfare Strategy.

Following some discussion, the Council also agreed a revised position on fireworks, which expresses BVA’s support for further restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks to safeguard animal health and welfare.

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'Stop the divisive and toxic communications

Recently, I have met many vets, particularly younger members of the profession, working in corporate practice who are angered by the way their professional integrity is being publicly questioned by colleagues working in so-called independent practice. This is becoming a growing issue and something I wish to draw the profession’s attention to.

In some recent newsletters and public communications, there has seemingly been an orchestrated campaign to question the motivations of vets, depending on the ownership structure of the organisation they work in.

Typical comments I have read include: 1 ‘I believe that clients and their animals under veterinary care will be better served where owners work within the practice...Independent ownership offers vets the freedom to provide the treatments that are the best and most economic for individual clients.’ 2 ‘By not having external investors or non-veterinary management to answer to, we can make decisions with animal care our...

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Quick reference guide for cattle vets

Reviewed by Eleanor White a final-year vet student who is currently on rotations.

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Health and welfare in a multi-animal environment

I often say to my teenage kids that by the time they go into the workplace there will be jobs open to them that don’t currently exist. Shelter medicine is one of those; it was only in 2014 that the American Veterinary Medical Association recognised it as a specialty in the USA. So far, all textbooks on this subject have come from the USA, so the arrival of this new manual, which focuses on common issues and diseases here in the UK is welcome.

Most of our larger animal rescue charities have vets working on site. Many vets also have an input into charity work: the book quotes a survey in 2008, which found that 94.8 per cent of UK vet practices worked with charities in some way.

This book is a great introduction to those new to or dabbling in shelter medicine, while also providing a good reference...

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NASA put out a call for potential astronauts and appointed a vet

Vet Richard Linnehan is an adjunct professor at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine – he is also an astronaut, reports Tim Peeler.

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Ruminant research bursaries awarded

MSD Animal Health has awarded ruminant research bursaries to two vets. The first award has been made to Sophie Mahendran (pictured, far right) from the University of Surrey, for her randomised trial comparing the effects of antimicrobial and NSAID treatments for calf bovine respiratory disease on lung pathology assessed using thoracic ultrasonography. The second award was made to George Giles of Giles and Parsons Farm Vets, for his research on the development of veterinary fertility services that meet market demand – a qualitative study of seasonally calving herds in the UK.

The MSD Animal Health Research Bursary for veterinary surgeons offers annual awards of up to £4000 each. Projects must be completed within one to two years and the veterinary practitioner proposals are judged by university academics to ensure independent assessment.

Research bursary applications will open again in August. Further details can be found at

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The chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Heather Hancock has announced the appointment of 35 independent members to the FSA’s Scientific Advisory Committees, of which the following three are vets: Jane Gibbens has been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food, and Nicholas Jonsson, of the University of Glasgow, and Cheryl Scudamore of Abbey Veterinary Services/NationWide Laboratories have been appointed to the Committee on Toxicity.

The Veterinary Management Group (VMG), which represents veterinary professionals working in leadership and management roles, has appointed five new board directors to help it develop the support it provides to its members. They were appointed following interviews at the VMG’s board meeting in June and join the board with immediate effect. The new directors are:

Alison Daubney, practice manager, Summerleaze Vets

Mark Gill, operations director, Goddard Veterinary Group

Gavin Mitchell, managing director, IMV Imaging

Tracey Morley-Jewkes, hospital director, Willows Veterinary...

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MSD awards prizes for best research projects by Vet students

MSD Animal Health has awarded prizes to the best research project presentations by vet students who had each received one of its research bursaries in 2018. Hosted at its headquarters in Milton Keynes, the company selected Eleanor Robertson (pictured, right) from the University of Liverpool for the top £1000 prize for her exploration on access to and use of antifungal treatments in Ethiopia. Joanna Gillingham, also from the University of Liverpool, won the £500 runner-up prize for her project assessing mineral deficiency in association with fertility in cross breed cows in Sri Lanka. Their awards were presented by the company’s managing director Jan Moehlenbrock. Presentations were also made for completed research projects by vet students Jessica Seale, on cryptosporidium in UK cattle, and Lucy Yarnold, on aeromonas in canine cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy cases.

Vets, Jennifer Duncan of the University of Liverpool and Sarah Caddy from the Laboratory...

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Promoting the breeding of sound, healthy dogs

Tackling inherited orthopaedic problems in dogs is the title of a symposium being organised by the Dog Breeding Reform Group on 6 October. It is for vets, vet students, dog owners, dog breeders, breed health coordinators, dog welfare organisations and anyone interesting in dog welfare. Taking place at the School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Surrey (in the vet school main building), registration costs £55 per person and £25 for vet students and breed health coordinators. Further details can be found at

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The OIE - all carrot and no stick

The World Organisation for Animal Health – which confusingly goes by the acronym OIE – sets standards for controlling transboundary animal diseases but has no power to enforce those standards.

That isn’t a value judgement, just a description of reality. One can argue the toss about whether the OIE should be given ‘teeth’ but the fact is, it doesn’t have any – and it’s easy to see why that’s causing frustration.

For OIE members there are metaphorical carrots but no punishment for rule-breaking. Countries can become members, make promises (in bad faith), then repeatedly break them – all in the knowledge that the OIE will be unable or unwilling to take meaningful action.

This problem, if it is a problem, is highlighted by the rapid spread of African swine fever (ASF) around the world – precisely the type of disease that the OIE was set up to assist in...

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OIE member accused of 'hiding ASF outbreaks

By Josh Loeb

Experts in African swine fever (ASF) have expressed frustration at the system for monitoring the disease’s spread.

Several vets and related professionals from across the world have suggested that efforts to combat ASF are being hampered because of a lack of sufficiently rigorous mechanisms to ensure transparent reporting of outbreaks.

A case in point is Belarus, an eastern European, ex-Soviet country bordering the EU.

It is suspected of knowingly concealing outbreaks of ASF – in defiance of its obligations as a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Belarus stopped sending ASF outbreak notifications to the OIE in 2013, despite there having been outbreaks in the country at that time. Ever since, the Belarussian authorities have denied that their country is affected.

However, last month there was an ASF outbreak at a Polish pig farm six miles from the border with Belarus, and last...

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Awareness of hydatid disease needs to increase

Hydatid disease is a ‘largely forgotten’ zoonosis that should be ‘put back on the agenda’. That is the view of the UK and Ireland head of the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP).

Ian Wright made the call following a special ESCCAP meeting last month, when it was agreed that more data are needed to establish where in Great Britain the hydatid worm – Echinococcus granulosus – is endemic.

Wright told Vet Record: ‘I think most vets will have heard of hydatid but might consider it to be a Welsh problem or a Scottish island problem. They might not be aware of the risk – or might underestimate the risk – in the rest of Britain.’

Hydatid, which is transmitted by dogs, is a serious zoonosis that can lead to the formation of potentially fatal cysts in vital organs. The parasites have a long incubation period, meaning...

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Certificates must only be signed if welfare is OK

By Josh Loeb

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) is warning its members not to sign export health certificates for consignments of live animals – unless they can be sure of good animal welfare en route.

The organisation, which represents veterinary bodies from 40 countries, including the UK, suggested vets could be held criminally liable if they sign but animal welfare in transit is uncertain.

The intervention, which came earlier this month as a ship from Kuwait docked in Romania to collect some 70,000 live sheep for transport to the Middle East, is regarded as highly significant by welfare campaigners.

The sheep were due to be slaughtered for a religious festival, and senior figures in the EU had – in vain – urged Romania to halt the transport.

If the FVE’s call is heeded, it would likely spell an end to all live exports from Europe to countries...

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BVA warns of risk of injury to farm vets

By Georgina Mills

More than 60 per cent of farm vets have suffered injuries in the past year, according to new BVA figures.

The figures were released last week during Farm Safety Week, a campaign run by the National Farmers’ Union that shares safety stories so farms can learn how to reduce risks.

Taken from the association’s biannual Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, the findings showed that 61 per cent of vets working with production animals had suffered injuries over a 12-month period.

One in five production animal vets who responded to the survey had suffered injuries which they rated as ‘very severe’ or ‘quite severe’.

The most common injury for production animal vets was bruising caused by kicks – some 81 per cent of farm vets reported this.

Other injuries suffered by production animal vets included crush injuries, lacerations, scratches and bites. Almost a fifth of vets...

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Annual statistics on animal experiments released

The number of scientific procedures carried out on living animals fell to a 10-year low last year, fresh figures from the government show.

In 2018 there were 3.52 million scientific procedures in Great Britain involving living animals – a decrease of 7 per cent from last year, and the lowest number of procedures recorded since 2007.

There was also a decrease in the number of scientific procedures involving living animals classed as most ‘severe’ in terms of their impact on the animal.

The statistics arguably give an overinflated impression of the extent of experiments on animals. A ‘precautionary principle’ underlying the counting method means that merely breeding genetically altered animals – to generate experimental cohorts – counts as a ‘procedure’.

In 2018, around half of the 3.52 million scientific procedures carried out consisted simply of this type of breeding. The number of true experimental procedures was 1.8 million. However,...

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Interpol leads crackdown on wildlife trafficking

Georgina Mills reports on recent work to tackle global wildlife crime.

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In brief

Call for more action to control air guns

The RSPCA has called for the licensing of air guns, as it released new figures showing that it received almost 800 reports of animals being shot in 2018.

Pet cats were the most common species to be shot, with 258 incidents involving them, while pigeons came in second with 112 incidents. Dogs accounted for 73 of the 767 incidents.

The five counties recording the highest incidents of animals being shot by air guns last year were (in order from greatest) Greater London, Greater Manchester, Kent, West Midlands and South Yorkshire, according to the RSPCA’s data.

RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy said: ‘We believe air gun misuse is happening on a large scale and what we see at the RSPCA could be the tip of the iceberg. We believe that stricter controls are long overdue. Mandatory licensing would be an effective...

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The profession must reflect the society it serves

By Adele Waters

Now it is time to create diversity.

That was the key message from this year’s Royal College Day, the annual RCVS event that combines its annual general meeting and awards ceremony.

Both the outgoing and new presidents highlighted the importance of encouraging diversity and for vets from disadvantaged and ethnic minority backgrounds to have relatable role models.

And in the keynote speech, Patricia Mundy, an ophthalmologist at the Matthew J Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, talked about the need for the profession to reflect the society it served.

Mundy, a black vet, who is also the lead veterinary ophthalmologist for the New York Police Department, gave a talk entitled: ‘Navigating diversity and inclusion in the veterinary profession’.

In it she detailed her journey from a North London council estate to studying veterinary medicine at Cambridge university, through to completing a fellowship at Wisconsin...

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3D printed jaw gives new bite to injured dog

A vet has carried out a successful 3D printed partial jaw replacement on a dog, a procedure that has been rarely performed in the UK.

The dog, an eight-year-old rescued shih tzu required reconstructive surgery because its mandible was fractured on both sides, with one side missing a large segment of bone.

CT scans were taken of the jaw and sent to a 3D printing company to make a titanium implant to recreate the mandible (pictured).

The one-hour operation was carried out by Ryk Botes, who runs an orthopaedic centre of excellence for Medivet in Kent.

He said: ‘The experience gained in the design, production and fitting of the jaw replacement implant will benefit many patients in the future.’

Following surgery, the owner reported the dog had made a good recovery.

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