Journal news

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

    Background

    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.

    Methods

    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.

    Results

    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).

    Conclusion

    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

    Background

    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.

    Methods

    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.

    Results

    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).

    Conclusion

    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

    Background

    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.

    Methods

    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.

    Results

    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.

    Conclusion

    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.

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    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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    Time to unite behind BVA veterinary leaders

    I know people didn’t foresee how events with Covid-19 would unfold a few weeks ago when their letters aimed at the BVA and other veterinary leaders were written (VR, 14 March 2020, vol 186, pp 324–325), but maybe that makes the #bekind movement even more pertinent as we don’t know how our actions will later be perceived.

    The BVA have really stepped up to lead the industry and help as much as possible to allay our fears and communicate ways forward

    Daniella Dos Santos responded honestly and with great dignity at the time to some strong allegations against the BVA and the leadership team (VR, 14 March 2020, vol 186, p 325), but ultimately actions speak louder than words. In the past few weeks, I think our BVA leaders have shown real backbone. Far from being adolescent, aloof, arrogant, bullying, complacent, complicit, establishment, irrelevant, and so on, I...

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    Is sheep scab underdiagnosed?

    We write to express our growing concern about sheep scab both in our local area and across the UK.

    We provide veterinary care for over 50,000 breeding sheep across the south west and over the past two years the number of suspected and confirmed cases of sheep scab we are attending is dramatically escalating. These cases are likely to be an underestimate of the true picture as many will go undiagnosed as the disease is not notifiable in England and Wales.

    We are working with farmers where resistance to macrocyclic lactones in active Psoroptes ovis mites is suspected and being investigated.1 One such outbreak occurred during lambing, which presented challenges for the use of organophosphate plunge dipping due to the young age of lambs.

    The growing number of outbreaks may in part be linked with the multitude of store lambs brought onto winter dairy grazing, but in...

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    Possible treatment of Covid-19 with a therapeutic vaccine

    Further to our recent letter ( VR, 28 March 2020, vol 186, p 388), readers may find the following of interest.

    Avian coronavirus (a Gammacoronavirus) is a highly infectious avian pathogen which can infect the respiratory system, intestine, kidneys and reproductive system of birds. It is the cause of infectious bronchitis (IB), an important disease of poultry.

    We used the technique described in our earlier letter to develop an IB vaccine, which we introduced successfully in Myanmar in 1994. We used bronchial tissue lysate from a pullet that had died of nephrogenic IB infection and serum from infected laying hens from the same farm. We transformed Pasteurella and produced an inactivated alum-precipitated vaccine within two weeks.

    Over 9000 birds were then vaccinated. This not only reduced deaths in young birds but also increased egg production in laying birds within a few days.

    The vaccine has proven to be very...

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    Can companion animals become infected with Covid-19?

    Following previous reports of Covid-19 infection in two dogs in Hong Kong earlier in February and March,1-4 further test results have been released by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (GHKSAR), changing the serology interpretation previously reported (VR, 28 March 2020, vol 186, pp 388–389).3, 5

    Despite several positive RT-PCR results suggesting a true infection in a Pomeranian dog, the dog had initially tested negative for antibodies specific to Covid-19 on a blood sample taken on 3 March 2020. Further serological testing of this sample at the WHO reference laboratory at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) was reported positive in late March.5

    Antibody formation can take 14 days or more before it can be detected and this lag could explain why antibodies were not identified initially. However, a weak infection where...

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    Treatment of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in rabbits

    As part of my final-year research project I am asking veterinary surgeons who have seen, diagnosed and treated cases of ocular Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in rabbits (Fig 1) to complete an online survey.

    As there is currently no single preferred treatment for ocular E cuniculi infections, I am interested in gathering data to find out what treatments are currently used most frequently in practice for this disease, and comparing the outcomes of these treatments.

    Veterinary surgeons who have treated rabbits with this condition are asked to complete a short questionnaire which is available at https://surveyhero.com/c/bdf673a8. Please contact me at the details below for further information.

    Fig 1:

    Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in the eye of a rabbit

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    Death notices

    Hartwright On 23 March 2020, Robert Michael Hartwright, BVSc, MRCVS, of Repton. Mr Hartwright qualified from Bristol in 1967.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.m1305

    Hope On 15 March 2020, Henry Peter Hope, BVSc, MRCVS, of New Malden, Surrey. Mr Hope qualified from Liverpool in 1966.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.m1306

    Jones On 5 January 2020, William Alun Jones, MRCVS, of Swansea. Mr Jones qualified from London in 1948.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.m1307

    Soutar On 23 October 2019, Mark James Soutar, BVMS, CertCHP, MRCVS, of West Hill, Devon. Mr Soutar qualified from Glasgow in 1995.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.m1308

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    People have long memories

    We’re a few weeks into the Covid-19 crisis and we don’t yet know the shape of the curve in the UK. At the time of writing, the NHS Nightingale Hospital London is being fitted out at the ExCel Centre by military and NHS medical planners, ready to provide 4000 coronavirus beds in two wards and with two morgues.

    That we know the size of this facility from happier times spent at the London Vet Show helps demonstrate the scale of the challenge we face. It will live long in the memory.

    We won’t know how some of the decisions made or things that we’ve said or done during this crisis will look with the benefit of hindsight. What will we remember about how individuals, businesses and clients acted as the crisis developed, evolved and eventually resolved?

    Already I know I’ll remember how hard the RCVS and the BVA have...

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    Coping with Covid-19

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard, ‘It doesn’t seem real.’ Yet, when we collected our children from school on 20 March as they closed for the foreseeable future, there was no denying that this is very real.

    The veterinary profession has rallied to adapt and innovate to maintain a high level of service to clients and patients. Nonetheless, restrictions have tightened and the impact is palpable.

    As a self-employed mum, wife of a production animal vet and daughter of septuagenarians, what lies ahead is uncertain. What will the financial impact be? Can we balance home working and home schooling? How will we stop the bickering? What if...? Each of us will have individual worries, but to protect our health, both physical and mental, I believe that now is a time for self leadership. We have little control over Covid-19, but we can control our reaction to...

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