Journal news

Possible method for the production of a Covid-19 vaccine

Over a number of years we worked on genetically transformed Pasteurella multocida vaccines, experimenting on whether they could provide protection against a variety of animal and avian virus diseases. We think the methodology has potential for a Covid-19 vaccine.

The practical work was carried out in Myanmar, and at the time, there was a suggestion that the method could be of value in developing countries, especially in an emergency. It required only fairly basic laboratory facilities, could be rapidly set up and was relatively inexpensive (a patent application for the method was made in early 2007, but although there were discussions with pharmaceutical companies and academia to progress its production, none eventually took this up).

The proposed steps are set out in Fig 1. When mixed with cell lysates of virus-infected tissues, P multocida took up free viral genes and incorporated them into its genome. Genetically transformed...

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Can companion animals become infected with Covid-19?

The veterinary community has been following the evolution of the global pandemic of Covid-19 to identify risks to animals and possible zoonotic transmission. With some exceptions, most coronavirus (CoV) infections in domestic animals are predominantly associated with gastrointestinal disease. Their genetic diversity and variety of hosts are likely to be connected to their high mutation frequency and their RNA instability.1, 2 This makes CoVs a public health concern with future outbreaks being predicted.1

On 28 February 2020 the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong released a statement that a dog had tested positive to the SARS-CoV-2.3 That statement raised many questions from clients and colleagues about how potential pet infections could affect us, not only here in Hong Kong but also, worldwide.

The case was a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog, which had multiple comorbidities, and was referred to the...

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Ensuring animal welfare during Covid-19 pandemic

The RCVS is providing useful advice for veterinary practitioners in the current coronavirus pandemic.

However, I feel strongly that we, as veterinary professionals, must recognise the threats to animal welfare that would arise from animal owners being required to self isolate or be in quarantine.

It is reassuring that at present ‘social distancing’ allows dog walking and horse riding. It is essential that ‘tending to animals’ should be recognised and clearly stated to be a valid reason for leaving one’s home.

I was alarmed and disappointed that ‘animal welfare’ was not mentioned in media coverage of lockdown in other countries, while ‘obtaining food, medicines and some work activities’ were recognised as valid reasons for going out.

‘Tending to animals’ could include a wide range of activities – not only exercising dogs and horses but feeding and checking other species housed outdoors and possibly not on one’s own premises. Owners...

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Providing support should feel human

There is thankfully more awareness around supporting newly graduated vets than ever before. In job adverts, most practices add at least a reference to support, ranging from, the old classic, ‘supportive environment’ to more detailed descriptions of the support that’s on offer with the role. But, no matter how grand these claims might be, it’s important to remember there’s a difference between practices claiming to offer support and actually providing it, and sometimes spotting the difference is harder than you’d think.

A friend of mine worked at a practice that on paper looked very supportive. At her interview she was offered a mentorship programme, seemingly endless appraisals and enrolment onto as many new graduate schemes as she wanted. However, six months into the job she was left disappointed, feeling that these formalised support avenues, although well intentioned, had ended up feeling more like a box ticking exercise, lacking in...

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Fracture repair in companion animal practice

This is an excellent reference for first-opinion vets who have an interest in orthopaedics. Its focus is not just on repair techniques, but it provides a good introduction to how a fracture should be described and classified, as well as the comorbidities to consider before approaching a fracture. The section on postoperative care is detailed – a consideration that is often lacking in other texts.

Implant selection offers guidelines on using the appropriately sized pins, plates and so on, as well as the pros and cons of various instruments (for example, autoclavable versus non-autoclavable drills).

The book’s techniques are often illustrated with coloured photographs showing the steps taken to get a good outcome following a fracture repair.

Each type of fracture is broken down and covers the treatment of choice, postoperative management and prognosis, as well as options should the ideal repair not be possible. Potential complications are also...

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Formulary for zoo and wild animal vets

Reviewed by zoo and wildlife consultant Sarah Chapman

NOT long ago, it was common to have to trawl through research papers and email streams when investigating the possible use of a new drug for some exotic species – while a zookeeper stood nearby tapping their foot waiting to hear how their animal would be treated. So, to have a summary of all the dosages and information on the safety of the drugs we use in exotic mammals is very useful.

The book is a practical size and its tabular format makes it easy to use. It covers all exotic mammals that are kept in captivity, including the commonly kept species, as well as more unusual or rarely kept animals. There are 28 chapters covering everything from armadillos to zebras, and over 35 mammal groups.

Each chapter includes authoritative dosing information, with tables of antimicrobials, analgesia, anaesthesia and sedation, parasiticides...

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Gareth Beynon Rees

A highly respected clinician who worked in large animal practice before he joined the state veterinary service as a veterinary officer. He was caring and sympathetic towards animals and people.

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UK vets coping well with global pandemic

By Josh Loeb

Vets in the UK feel better prepared for the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic than their counterparts in other European countries, a survey of practices across seven countries suggests.

The survey, carried out this week by market researchers CM Research, gathered data from more than 1000 veterinary practices across seven countries worldwide (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, USA, Australia) to compare the situation across them.

UK practices had the highest level of contingency planning in place to prepare staff for the impacts of the pandemic

Of the five European countries that were part of the survey, UK practices had the highest level of contingency planning in place to prepare staff for the impacts of the pandemic, and had done the most planning to prepare for any medicines shortages.

Practices in the UK also have more policies in place around cleaning and disinfecting the workplace than in any...

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Dangerous snake laws need constricting

By Josh Loeb and Shanin Leeming

Reptile welfare experts, including the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS), want laws on keeping dangerous snakes tightened up, arguing that it is often impossible to provide such animals with veterinary care.

Their call follows a Vet Record investigation that found several venomous snake species being advertised for sale by pet shops (see opposite page).

King cobras, gaboon vipers, pit vipers and rattlesnakes – all capable of causing death through venom – are among the snakes being sold perfectly legally to collectors by shops located on English high streets.

Under the Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) Act, it is not illegal to sell venomous snakes to people who do not have a licence to keep them – the legal onus is, instead, on the purchaser to have obtained a DWA licence from their local authority.

The RSPCA says it is concerned that DWA licences may...

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Where can you buy a venomous snake?

At least half a dozen high street stockists of venomous snakes were identified this month through an online search by Vet Record. This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg since trading also takes place via internet forums and black market routes.

Rainforest Exotics in Ross-on-Wye advertised king cobras for sale earlier this year. In an online advertisement, the shop stipulated that the snakes were for ‘experienced’ Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) licence holders only. Herefordshire Council confirmed that Rainforest Exotics is licensed to sell venomous snakes.

Another pet shop, Wight Vipers, on the Isle of Wight, advertised a Sri Lankan pit viper for sale last year – again, perfectly legally. The shop’s website also advertises a highly venomous species of rattlesnake. As with Rainforest Exotics, a post on the shop’s Facebook page noted that the pit viper was for ‘DWA licence holders only’. Isle of Wight Council...

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Time to 'think smart on anthelmintic use

By Adele Waters

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) must begin to regulate the use of anthelmintics.

That is the view of equine vet David Rendle, a council member of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

Speaking at this year’s National Equine Forum earlier this month, he said the veterinary profession and equine industry had recognised the need to cut anthelmintic use for years, but horse owners had failed to get sufficiently on board.

With ‘armageddon on the horizon’, it was now time to take more radical steps to safeguard existing worming treatments for the future.

‘I think our regulators have to think laterally,’ he said. ‘They have to be proactive, and have to embrace this challenge.

‘I know the view is shared by a lot of healthcare professionals that we aren’t going to see real change unless we have some degree of regulation, some degree of restriction on prescribing,...

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Revised timeline for 'under care review

By Josh Loeb

The RCVS has outlined a fresh timeline and methodology for its wide-ranging review of guidance around ‘under care’ and 24/7 emergency cover.

According to the timeline originally approved by RCVS council in June 2019, the review had been due to start in October 2019. However, following a delay, the start of the process has now been pushed back to next month – meaning it will be at least six months late.

The decision was made at an RCVS council meeting earlier this month.

Originally the process had been set to commence with a general call for evidence, but it will now begin instead with focus group discussions. The main areas under consideration in the review include the provision of 24-hour emergency cover and the interpretation and application of an animal being under the care of a veterinary surgeon.

It was apparent that the original methodology, and...

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New junior vice president for RCVS

The RCVS has elected Christopher (Kit) Sturgess as its new junior vice president for 2020/21.

Sturgess (pictured), who has served on RCVS council since 2013, works in internal medicine in a private referral practice. In 2006, he became a founding partner in a multidisciplinary referral centre that grew from five to 65 members of staff within five years.

When he is not spending his time in clinics, he pursues other interests within the profession with a focus on education, including as the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s education committee chair. Sturgess is also a trustee of Cats Protection and the Wildheart Trust.

He is currently the chair of the RCVS finances and resources committee and has been RCVS treasurer for the past three years. He is also a member of a range of committees and groups across the college.

I am keen to find solutions to our workforce issues

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Action needed to keep riding on

Campaigners are working hard to preserve access routes through the countryside for ramblers, dog walkers and horse riders. They invite you to join them. Adele Waters reports

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In brief

Webinars to address mental health issues

The RCVS has organised a series of webinars covering serious mental health issues that could impact the health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals.

The three webinars, which will take place over the next three months, are free to view and are hosted by the Webinar Vet. They are:

• Navigating online complaints and cyberbullying (26 March). Presented by Ebony Escalona, the founder of the Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook group, and social media strategist Fay Schofield, this webinar will look at the damaging effects that online complaints and cyberbullying can have on the health and wellbeing of the vet team.

• Understanding eating disorders (28 April). Presented by RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) officer Rachel Pascoe, this webinar will provide an overview of the different types of eating disorders, and will describe the impacts of living with one.

• Self-harm in veterinary professionals...

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Reflection and the veterinary profession: a critical challenge for everyone

If you are a UK-based vet who graduated in 2007 or later, you will have experienced completing the RCVS’ postgraduate development record (PDR) – the online tool used to record progress and development during the postgraduate development phase (PDP). Many vets will have also been involved in mentoring new graduates while they engage in this activity and transition into practice life. Whatever your role, it is likely that you have a view on the effectiveness of this approach to supporting new graduates.

At January’s RCVS council meeting,1 the committee approved the next steps in the ongoing review of the PDP. This work forms part of the graduate outcomes consultation that was initiated following the RCVS and BVA Vet Futures project. In 2016, the Vet Futures project group produced an action plan outlining a vision for the veterinary profession for 2030,2 and, unsurprisingly, this included a...

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Experiences of recent graduates: reframing reflection as purposeful, social activity


During the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Professional Development Phase, graduates are required to reflect on their progress. Reflection is often conceptualised as a solitary activity, which may contrast with day-to-day reflective activities in the workplace. This study drew on cultural-historical activity theory to understand how recently graduated veterinary surgeons engage in reflective activity.


Data comprised RCVS documentation and semistructured interviews with 15 recent graduates from one veterinary school. Thematic analysis was used to describe a collective system of reflective activity and to identify contradictions in the system with the potential to limit outcomes of reflective activity.


Two overarching themes of contradictions were identified: ‘social reflection’ and ‘formalising the informal’. Graduates need opportunities for talking and/or writing to progress worries into purposeful reflection, underpinned by a shared understanding of reflective activity with colleagues, and by working practices which prioritise and normalise reflective interaction.


These findings identify potential avenues to better support veterinary graduates as they negotiate the transition to working life, and suggest that reconsideration of the formal expectations of new veterinary graduates and their employers is timely.

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Survival analysis of 219 dogs with hyperadrenocorticism attending primary care practice in England


Hyperadrenocorticism is an endocrine disease routinely encountered within primary care practice; however, few studies evaluating survival beyond diagnosis have studied this population.


This retrospective cohort study analysed the electronic patient records of 219 cases of hyperadrenocorticism from a sample of dogs attending primary care practices in England. Kaplan-Meier plots examined the cumulative survival and Cox proportional hazard regression modelling identified factors associated with the hazard of all-cause mortality.


In the analysis, 179/219 (81.7 per cent) hyperadrenocorticism cases died during the study period with a median survival time from first diagnosis of 510 days (95% CI 412 to 618 days). Trilostane was used in 94.1 per cent of cases and differentiation between pituitary-dependent and adrenal-dependent disease was made in 20.1 per cent of cases. In the multivariable analysis, dogs weighing greater than or equal to 15 kg (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.15, P=0.023) and those diagnosed greater than or equal to 13 years of age (HR 3.74, 95% CI 2.29 to 6.09, P<0.001) had increased hazards of all-cause mortality. Dogs that had their initial trilostane dose increased had a favourable prognosis (HR 0.49, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.76, P=0.015).


This study shows that survival from diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism appears fair for many dogs and provides primary care practitioners with relatable benchmark prognostic figures.

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Antibiotic use in goats: role of experience and education of Missouri veterinarians


In a previous study, we found that rates of antibiotic residues in goat carcasses in Missouri were three times the published national average, warranting further research in this area.


We conducted a cross-sectional survey of goat veterinarians to determine attitudes and practices regarding antibiotics, recruiting 725 veterinarians listed on the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP) website and 64 Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) veterinarians.


We collected 189 responses (26.1%) from AASRP members (170 valid) and 8 (12.5%) from MVMA veterinarians totalling 178 responses. While the vast majority of all veterinarians indicated that they prescribed antibiotics less than half of the time, Missouri veterinarians indicated that they spent more time treating goats for overt disease like intestinal parasites and less time on proactive practices such as reproductive herd health management comparatively. While veterinarians agreed that antibiotic resistance was a growing concern, veterinarians outside of Missouri seemed more confident that their own prescription practices was not a contributor. Although nationally most veterinarians felt that attending continuing education classes was beneficial, 73.4% in other states attended classes on antibiotic use compared to only four of the nine Missouri veterinarians.


Missouri veterinarians had less veterinary experience than veterinarians in other states, and this, in conjunction with low continuing education requirements in Missouri relative to most other states, may hinder development of more proactive and effective client–veterinary relationships.

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Does intrauterine cephapirin improve subsequent fertility in cows with clinical endometritis?

Bottom Line

  • The evidence suggests that cephapirin improves subsequent fertility in dairy cows affected by clinical endometritis when compared with no treatment.

  • Clinical scenario

    During a routine fertility visit, you find many cows with a white vaginal discharge 21 to 28 days after calving, and you discuss with the farmer the implications of endometritis. After discussing preventive measures for endometritis and examining the farm’s transition cow management, the farmer tells you that, when your boss does the routine visit, he puts Metricure tubes (MSD Animal Health) (an intrauterine treatment containing 500 mg cephapirin) in to ‘wash the cows out and get them in calf quicker’.

    You do not often use Metricure tubes, and you wonder whether there is any evidence behind using intrauterine cephapirin to improve reproductive outcomes.

    The question

    In [dairy cows with clinical endometritis] does [the use of cephapirin versus nothing] improve [subsequent...

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