Journal news

Send cat and dog samples to test for SARS-CoV-2

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in domestic cats, non-domestic cats and dogs.1 In vivo experiments have shown that some animals including cats, ferrets and hamsters are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection,2, 3 whereas other species such as ducks, chickens and pigs don’t appear to be susceptible.2

At present, there is no evidence that cats, dogs or other domestic animals play any role in the epidemiology of human infections with SARS-CoV-2.4 Furthermore, the significance of SARS-CoV-2 as a feline or canine pathogen is unknown, as cats and dogs with reported infections have apparently recovered and there has been little evidence of transmission occurring between cats or dogs in the field.

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research has dedicated its resources to researching the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of this effort, we intend...

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Testing animals for SARS-CoV-2

The Covid-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented pressure on health services worldwide, with widespread person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Current evidence suggests that it emerged from an animal source. However, further investigations are needed to find the source, determine how the virus entered the human population, and establish the potential role of an animal reservoir in transmission.

There is emerging evidence that there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected people; however, there is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit SARS-CoV-2 to people. Person-to-person is the predominant route of transmission. The government’s focus is therefore on providing SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity for people.

Infection of animals with SARS-CoV-2 meets the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE’s) criteria of an emerging infection.1 As a consequence, veterinarians should report...

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Agriculture Bill does not protect high standards of UK produce

The Agriculture Bill passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on 13 May 2020; the most significant change to agricultural legislation in decades. A late amendment was proposed by Neil Parish to prevent future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors within the UK.

This amendment was defeated by 51 votes. The MPs covering my practice area in rural Devon – Mel Stride and Geoffrey Cox – together with George Eustice,the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, voted against this amendment. Since this vote, I have been surprised at how few farmers realised this Bill was even taking place, let alone the result and the voting record of our MPs. That said, there has been no mention of it in any mainstream news channels as they are all too concerned with...

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New EHV-1 variant identified

Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) is an important threat to the equine industry worldwide. EHV-1 infection can induce respiratory disease, abortion in mares, neonatal death of foals and myeloencephalopathy (EHM). The reasons for the development of different forms of the disease remain largely unknown, but are likely to involve factors such as virus pathogenicity, environmental conditions, host immunity and genetic background.

A potential explanation was reported which identified that different ORF30 (DNA polymerase subunit) genotypes were significantly associated with different forms of disease.1 Subsequently, EHV-1 strains were often generally categorised as neuropathogenic (G2254/D752) or non-neuropathogenic (A2254/N752).1 While the association between the ORF30 A2254 genotype and abortion is now well described,1- 4 the association between a specific ORF30 genotype and EHM is less evident. ORF30 A2254G genotyping is still used on a regular basis globally for strain discrimination...

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Death notices

Hartley On 7 May 2020, Derek Clifford Hartley, MRCVS, formerly of Wincanton Somerset. Mr Hartley qualified from London in 1946.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m2089

Reynolds On 2 May 2020, Robert Winton Reynolds, BVSc, CertZooMed, MRCVS, of Staplefield, West Sussex. Dr Reynolds qualified from Pretoria university and was admitted to the register in 1989.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m2091

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Covid is a good time to redesign vet degree

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that while people may be creatures of habit, they are also capable of necessary adaptation. The current disruption of our daily lives has given us all the opportunity to reflect and challenge our existing assumptions.

For us current students, the shape of our training in terms of teaching, exams and work experience has been upended, and for those of us due to graduate this summer, our future plans have been thrown into question.

But we have been far from abandoned – interactive tutorials and recorded lectures, external webinars, cases sent electronically by extramural study (EMS) providers and fully certified courses have been made available to us. These have proven popular, as they allow students to learn about clinically relevant subjects that they are passionate about, while fitting it around their own time commitments. These benefits have made me question whether the current tried-and-tested...

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John Phillip Sheridan

A forward thinker who believed that good medicine and good business go together. He never wavered in his mission to put veterinary business training on the agenda.

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Robin Lee

A respected and popular academic at University of Glasgow Veterinary School, he played a key role in the development of investigative radiology of small animals.

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At a crossroads, wondering which way to go

Having returned from travelling and working in Australia, the Covid-19 pandemic has given Anna Leach the chance to consider where she would like to take her career next.

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Diary of a parliamentary intern

The Veterinary Policy Research Foundation employs a veterinary intern to assist Lord Trees in advancing veterinary thinking in parliament. Here, the current intern Catrina Prince shares an update.

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How is the lockdown affecting vet students?

Like most other professions in the UK, the veterinary profession has been hit hard by Covid-19. But how has it impacted on students? Alexia Yiannouli investigates

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Thank you from the government

I am writing to thank the veterinary profession for the part you are playing in our fight against what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime.

The government has taken some unprecedented steps to ask people to stay at home, to protect our NHS and save lives. The more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.

Our success in responding to, and recovering from, the outbreak will come from all of us working together. It has been so encouraging to see many fantastic examples of this across many sectors and groups, including the veterinary profession.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your profession for playing your part. Your willingness and support in providing critical veterinary equipment to the NHS for medical use has helped individuals, their...

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Ophthalmology of clinically normal alpacas (Vicugna pacos) in the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional study


Alpacas are being more frequently presented to veterinarians in the UK. It is important to validate whether published normal ocular parameters are consistent with the alpaca population in the UK.


Ophthalmic examinations were performed on healthy alpacas (Vicugna pacos) from three farms in East Anglia, UK.


On direct ophthalmoscopy of 35 alpacas, there was a 50 per cent prevalence of opacities within the lens in alpacas older than two years old (n=8/16). There was a 36.8 per cent prevalence of persistent hyaloid arteries in alpacas under two years old (n=7/19). The mean Schirmer tear test-1 value was 20.0 ±6 mm/minute (n=40). The mean intraocular pressure measured by rebound tonometry was 17.2 ±5.5 mmHg (n=46), and applanation tonometry resulted in statistically similar values (P=0.30; n=25). There was a significant variation in intraocular pressure throughout a 24-hour period (n=8). Fluorescein dye was not detected at the nostrils of any of the alpacas which underwent a Jones test to assess nasolacrimal duct patency (n=8).


The ophthalmic findings appear largely consistent with previously published values from North America and continental Europe. Variations include the large range of measurements obtained and evidence of diurnal variation in intraocular pressure.

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Risk factors for blood-contaminated cerebrospinal fluid collection in dogs


To determine the risk factors for blood contamination during cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collection in dogs.

Study design and methods

This is a prospective study of 170 CSF samples. Data collected included signalment of the patient, body condition score, site of CSF collection (cerebellomedullary cistern (CMC) or lumbar cistern (LC)), number of attempts, clinician expertise, final diagnosis, time of day, skull conformation and day of the week. Analysis of the CSF samples was then performed, and the presence of blood contamination (red blood cells >500/µl) was recorded. Logistic regression was used to quantify the association of potential risk factors of the procedure. Multivariate analysis was performed on the variables that were statistically significant.


Of the 170 CSF samples, 53 per cent were collected from the CMC (n=90) and 47 per cent from the LC (n=80). Blood contamination was seen in 20 per cent (n=34) of the samples, 8.9 per cent (n=8) in CMC and 32.5 per cent (n=26) in LC samples. Increased odds of obtaining a contaminated CSF sample were associated with lower level of clinician expertise (odds ratio: 2.5; 95 per cent confidence interval: 0.9–6.7; P=0.046) and with LC versus CMC collection site (odds ratio: 8.1; 95 per cent confidence interval: 2.1–12.9; P=0.001).

Clinical significance

There is increased likelihood of blood contamination when collecting CSF from the LC compared with the CMC site. Increased clinician experience reduced the risk of CSF blood contamination, but none of the other variables examined significantly influenced this.

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Feline behaviour problems in Brazil: a review of 155 referral cases


Geographical variations in feline behaviour problems exist. The occurrence of feline behaviour problems in different regions are therefore important to prepare professionals for the emerging needs of cat owners.


One-hundred and fifty-five feline behaviour cases that were referred to a veterinary behaviourist in São Paulo (Brazil) during the period 2008–2014 are described.


Inter-cat aggression was the main behavioural complaint reported (31%), followed by housesoiling (26.4%). Unlike other international studies, inter-cat aggression was more frequently seen than inappropriate elimination. Oral repetitive behaviours, including problems such as psychogenic alopecia and pica, were also a prevalent problem (ie, 16.8% of the cases). Human-directed aggression accounted for 13.5% of the cases, taking fourth place in the list of the most common feline behavioural problems. Female and male cats were equally likely to be presented (51% and 49% of cases, respectively).


This study highlights potentially geographical or temporal variation in the behavioural problems that need to be recognised by veterinary behaviourists in order to meet the emerging needs of owners.

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Innovation in a post-Covid 'new normal

The proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is particularly apt at present. Whether it is Formula 1 teams producing ventilators for the NHS instead of racing cars, distillers making hand sanitiser instead of gin, or fashion houses creating personal protective equipment for healthcare workers instead of haute couture, in the space of a few weeks, businesses have adapted and innovated so they can continue to function in some form while accommodating restrictions imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The veterinary profession has adapted, too. As described by BVA junior vice president James Russell on 10 May in BVA’s weekly webinar update on Covid-19, vets have stepped up when it comes to finding new ways of working while respecting social distancing rules. Farm vets have been innovative with animal handling techniques to allow most routine bovine TB testing to continue, emergency surgeries to be conducted and the spring...

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Emergency funding for rescue centres

By Matthew Limb

Animal rescue centres are being thrown a funding lifeline to avert an animal welfare ‘catastrophe’ from happening under the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) has launched an emergency fund – with one-off grants of up to £10,000 available – to stave off centre closures and maintain vital rescue and rehoming work across the British Isles.

It follows a survey of member organisations that showed many centres facing crisis, amid falls in funding but no let-up in need, which risks wide-scale abandonment of pets.

Claire Horton, ADCH chair, said: ‘Their [charities’] income streams have all but dried up due to cancelled fundraising activities and closure of charity shops. This is an emergency – the very survival of some of these rescues is at stake.

Their closure or reduction in capacity would be catastrophic for animals in need

‘Their closure or reduction...

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Rates relief campaign gains momentum

By Matthew Limb

Pressure is mounting on ministers to boost financial support for struggling vet practices and avert potential closures linked to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Hundreds of vets and around 50 MPs so far are backing a campaign by the BVA to ensure vet practices, like pet shops, can access business rates relief.

Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, who is collecting support for an early day motion in parliament highlighting the issue, said the government must act so vets can ‘weather the storm’.

Vet practices are not eligible for business rates relief, despite the fact that many are high street businesses and derive a significant proportion of their income from retailing medicines, treatments and other pet products.

Lake, who is a BVA honorary associate, said vets were doing what the government asked of them – protecting animal health and welfare and maintaining the food supply chain –...

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Changes to calf bTB testing during Covid-19

By Georgina Mills

Calves under 180 days old can be excluded from bovine TB (bTB) testing in England and Wales if, in the vet’s judgement, they cannot be tested safely in line with Covid-19 social distancing.

This temporary amendment to bTB testing requirements, which was announced by the APHA on 4 May, will be applied retrospectively to incomplete tests where the final part of the test would have commenced on or after 23 March, and to any qualifying tests from now until further notice.

No movement restrictions will be placed on herds that do not test calves as long as the other eligible (older) animals in the herd are negative for the bTB test. Any calves that cannot be tested safely at this time will be left untested until the next bTB test of the herd.

The APHA says the decision will be kept under regular review while the...

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