Journal news

Circus ban opens up can of worms

In what ways are we morally entitled to make use of other animals for our own anthropocentric purposes? How, morally, can we justify the ways in which we use them?

These questions are the philosophical starting point for grievances that some animal rights groups have with people involved in almost any kind of relationship with animals, from farmers through to pet keepers and vets.

At the extreme end, their philosophy holds that no person should ever use any animal – full stop. For example, campaign group Peta believes that animals should never be experimented on, eaten, worn (including wool), used for entertainment or ‘abused’ in any other way.

‘Abuse’ includes pet keeping, since our ‘selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering.’ Peta believes that, in an ideal world, domesticated dogs would not exist. Is that a world you would want to live in?

Categories: Journal news

Wild animals in circuses ban 'contentious

By Josh Loeb

Defra has confirmed that it will draw up clear guidance to help define the word ‘circus’ after peers warned of ‘unintended consequences’ arising from a nascent ban on using wild animals in circuses.

Lord Gardiner, an under secretary of state at Defra, said the guidance would be published by 20 November this year – two months before the proposed ban on wild animals performing in travelling circuses comes into effect in England.

The government is introducing the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which last month passed its second reading in the House of Lords, on ethical grounds rather than because of any evidence of existing welfare harms that such a ban would remedy.

Critics fear this could set a precedent, opening the door to future bans on other types of activities involving animals such as falconry displays or zoos.

Labour peer Baroness Mallalieu called the proposed...

Categories: Journal news

'Birds of prey should not be tethered

By Josh Loeb

An undercover investigation by an anti-captivity charity has found evidence of owls being tethered in birds of prey attractions – in contravention of Defra’s guidance for zoos, which specifically states that owls should not be tethered.

Charity Freedom for Animals also found other birds of prey, such as eagles and falcons – which are allowed to be restrained in this way under Defra’s guidance – being tethered at premises where they are held captive for display.

Freedom for Animals said its investigator had discovered birds tethered to perches in three quarters of 25 randomly sampled static attractions based predominantly around displaying predatory birds. Sometimes birds were tethered for long periods of time and in hot weather and, in some premises, birds were tied down ‘day and night’.

It is unacceptable on welfare grounds to deny such birds the opportunity for flight

Vet and welfare campaigner...

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Dog shampoos could cause reactions in people

By Josh Loeb

A lack of regulation around animal care products is exposing pets and their owners to potential allergens which would be banned in the equivalent products for people.

The British Association of Dermatologists is concerned that a legal loophole means products such as canine shampoos and deodorants continue to have the potential to cause new allergies or to trigger pre-existing ones.

At the association’s annual meeting this week, research was cited that surveyed 62 cosmetic products intended for use on dogs.

In all, 27 of these products were classified as ‘leave-on’, meaning that they are not washed off after use, and 35 were classified as ‘rinse-off’.

A total of 26 per cent of the leave-on products contained the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and/or methylchloroisothiazolinone.

EU regulations ban these ingredients from use in leave-on products as they are well-known allergens, but this ban does not extend to cosmetics aimed at...

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Last rinderpest samples destroyed at Pirbright

Scientists at the Pirbright Institute have destroyed their final archive stocks of rinderpest virus.

The samples were destroyed as part of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) ‘sequence and destroy’ project, which aims to eliminate virus samples, reducing the risk of rinderpest re-emerging through accidental or deliberate release.

Rinderpest virus caused the most lethal cattle disease ever known

Rinderpest virus caused the most lethal cattle disease ever known, but, after a huge global campaign, it officially became the second disease to be eradicated, after smallpox in 2011. However, at that time, more than 40 laboratories across 36 countries still held samples of rinderpest. Therefore, the FAO and OIE designated some high-containment laboratories, including Pirbright, as Rinderpest Holding Facilities to hold virus stocks, and encouraged other labs to send their rinderpest samples to these designated holding facilities.


Categories: Journal news

Johnson should not be PM, says Tory vet

By Josh Loeb

A high profile vet who serves as a deputy regional chairman for the Conservative Party has launched a caustic attack on Boris Johnson, saying he would be a ‘disaster waiting to happen’ as prime minister.

Jason Aldiss, managing director of official veterinarian contractor Eville & Jones and Conservative deputy regional chairman in Yorkshire and Humber, said that in his party’s leadership election his vote would go to Johnson’s rival, Jeremy Hunt.

Aldiss, an active member of the party who was awarded the British Empire Medal for political service in the 2017 New Year’s Honours, said: ‘Boris Johnson is not fit to be leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party and should not be allowed anywhere near 10 Downing Street.

He would be a disaster waiting to happen

‘Should he win, he would be a disaster waiting to happen. Given the omnipresent state of political instability...

Categories: Journal news

Securing veterinary medicines in a no-deal Brexit

The government has announced plans to secure freight capacity to bring veterinary medicines and other ‘critical’ goods into the UK from continental Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit this October.

In a written statement to parliament, Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington said capacity would only be paid for ‘as and when it is needed and used’.

He said further information would be sent to industry stakeholders to explain more about the new preparations, which are expected to rely heavily on the Calais-Dover crossing but will cover the whole of the UK.

Veterinary medicines have been classed as critical ‘category 1’ goods, alongside human medicines and medical products.

Lidington stated: ‘The Department for Transport is putting in place a freight capacity framework agreement that will provide government departments with the ability to secure freight capacity for our critical supply chains as and when required.

‘This framework...

Categories: Journal news

Should Europe take action to control exotic pet ownership?

Is it time to identify which mammals make suitable pets? Josh Loeb and Alexia Yiannouli report

Categories: Journal news

In brief

RCVS fellowship structure changes

The RCVS has announced it is to make significant changes to the structure of its fellowship scheme.

The title fellow of the RCVS (FRCVS) has been in existence for almost 150 years and is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession – specifically to knowledge, clinical practice or the profession.

The fellowship board will now be expanded

The fellowship board will now be expanded from seven members to 10 in order to allow it to better meet its three-year plan.

The three-year plan includes objectives for promoting scientific excellence, furthering professional skills and practice, invigorating creativity, and promoting public awareness of veterinary science.

It was also decided the chair and vice-chair positions should be filled by election within the fellowship, and that two new fellow members would be elected who are responsible for delivering projects and engagement.

This year, elections will be...

Categories: Journal news

Disease surveillance in England and Wales, June 2019

APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Pestivirus infections in cattle

  • Copper toxicity in lambs

  • Combinations of pathogens in postweaned pigs with diarrhoea and wasting

  • Focal duodenal necrosis in layer chickens

  • Oral canker (trichomonosis) in a backyard chicken

  • Highlights from the scanning surveillance networkCattleManifestations of pestivirus infections

    Mucosal disease was diagnosed at the APHA Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC) on postmortem examination of a 20-month-old Holstein-Friesian heifer which was submitted from a 200-cow dairy herd. It was the second animal to die in a group of 60 pregnant heifers.

    A large ulcer was present in the greater curvature of the abomasum (Fig 1). Dark brown fluid contents filled the abomasum and the intestines. Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) type 1 was identified by PCR and immunohistochemistry on the brain confirmed labelling of BVDV which was characteristic of a persistently infected animal.

    Categories: Journal news

    Treatment and prevention of Rhodococcus equi in foals

    Rhodococcus equi is an intracellular, facultative, Gram-positive coccobacillus that is ubiquitous in soil. It is also one of the most common causes of pneumonia in foals and has a major financial impact on the horse industry worldwide due to its high morbidity and mortality and the costs associated with treatment.1,2

    Epidemiological evidence suggests that foals become infected early in life, and it is generally accepted that infection is established through the inhalation of airborne dust containing R equi.3,4 Foals exhibiting clinical signs are thought to be the main source of R equi in the environment as they shed higher concentrations of R equi in their faeces than subclinically infected foals or infected adult horses.5

    It is known that indoor housing of foals significantly increases the risk of R equi infection compared with outdoor housing due to the higher concentrations...

    Categories: Journal news

    Rhodococcus equi-specific hyperimmune plasma administration decreases faecal shedding of pathogenic R. equi in foals

    Rhodococcus equi is the most common cause of pneumonia in young foals. Pneumonic foals are an important source of environmental contamination as they shed higher amounts of R. equi in their faeces than unaffected foals. As R. equi-specific hyperimmune plasma (HIP) lessens clinical pneumonia, we hypothesise that its use would result in decreased faecal shedding of R. equi by foals. Neonatal foals were either given HIP (n=12) or nothing (n=9, control) shortly after birth and were then experimentally infected with R. equi. Faeces were collected before and on weeks 2, 3, 5 and 7 after infection. Presence of virulent R. equi was tested using qPCR. There was strong evidence of an association between HIP administration and a decrease in faecal shedding of virulent R. equi (P=0.031 by Pearson chi-squared test). Foals in the control shed significantly more R. equi (colony-forming units/ml) than foals that received HIP (P=0.008 by Mann-Whitney rank-sum test). While our study is the first to report this additional benefit of HIP administration, future studies are needed to evaluate the implications of its use under field conditions.

    Categories: Journal news

    Variation in the position of the conus medullaris and dural sac in adult dogs

    Although it has long been stated that the level of spinal cord termination varies depending on the size of the dog, the evidence for this remains limited. The aim of this study is to investigate the position of the conus medullaris (CM) and dural sac (DS) in a population of dogs of varying size. MRIs of the thoracolumbosacral spine of 101 dogs were included. The location of CM and DS was determined on sagittal T2-weighted images and T1-weighted images, respectively, by three independent observers. The bodyweight and the back length were used as markers of size. Regression analysis showed that the termination point of the CM had a statistically significant relationship with bodyweight (R2=0.23, P<0.05). Although not statistically significant (P=0.058), a similar relationship was found between CM and back length (R2=0.21). No statistically significant relationship was found between the termination point of the DS and bodyweight (P=0.24) or back length (P=0.19). The study confirms the terminal position of the CM is dependent on size, with a more cranial position with increasing size; however, the termination point of DS remains constant irrespective of dog size.

    Categories: Journal news

    Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus RNA detection in different matrices under typical storage conditions in the UK

    In the UK, approximately 40 per cent of the pig breeding herds are outdoors. To monitor their porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) status, blood is collected commonly from piglets around weaning. Sample collection in British outdoor pigs often occurs during the early morning hours when the piglets tend to accumulate inside sheltered areas. For practical reasons, dry cotton swabs are occasionally used for blood collection and stored at room temperature until arrival in the laboratory. Detection of PRRSV RNA is a function of viral concentration, sample type and storage condition. To evaluate a possible impact of the sampling protocol on PRRSV1 detection, experimentally spiked blood samples using three dilutions of a representative PRRSV1 strain were prepared. In addition, blood samples from pigs naturally infected with PRRSV were obtained from a PRRSV-positive British herd. Spiked blood and blood from infected pigs were used to obtain sera, dry or wet (immersed in saline) polyester or cotton swabs and FTA cards. The different samples were stored for 24 hours, 48 hours or 7 days at 4°C or 20°C and tested by a real-time reverse transcriptase PRRSV PCR assay. Under the study conditions, the best matrix was serum (96.7 per cent), followed by wet swabs (78 per cent), dry swabs (61.3 per cent) and FTA cards (51 per cent). Polyester swabs (76 per cent) showed a better performance than cotton swabs (63.3 per cent). The reduction in sensitivity obtained for swabs and FTA cards was particularly high at low viral concentrations. The results indicate that wet polyester swabs should be used whenever possible.

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria isolated from horses

    C. Bourély, G. Cazeau, N. Jarrige and others

    Equine Veterinary Journal (2019)

    doi: 10.1111/evj.13133

    • What did the research find?

    The most frequently isolated bacteria were Streptococcus species, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas species, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella species. Tetracycline resistance was found to be prevalent for all the bacteria isolated in this study. S aureus and Pseudomonas were found to have the highest proportions of resistance to gentamicin, while Klebsiella and E coli had the highest proportions of resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Resistance to third generation cephalosporins was below 10 per cent for all Enterobacteriaceae. S aureus isolates were found to have the highest proportions of multidrug resistance.

    • How was it conducted?

    Data collected between 2012 and 2016 by RESAPATH, the French national surveillance network for antimicrobial resistance (AMR), were studied. A total of 12,695 antibiograms were analysed, and the most frequently isolated...

    Categories: Journal news

    Preparing graduates for the workplace

    The Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) and RCVS are asking for input through two surveys, one for employers and one for graduates, to ensure the voice of the profession is heard in relation to the preparedness of new graduates.

    This follows a survey of employers in 2017, which found that while the communications skills and empathy of graduates are good, there is work to be done in areas such as resilience and financial awareness. This next iteration of the survey means we can look for trends to help with curriculum development and the RCVS graduate outcomes project.

    A new parallel survey, aimed at vets who graduated between 2014 and 2016, will help ensure your voice is heard on how the curriculum prepared you for the workplace.

    For the surveys to have meaningful results we need good numbers of respondents. So if you represent a practice that employs or has employed...

    Categories: Journal news

    Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus type 2 in hares in Scotland

    Rabbit haemorrhagic disease type 2 (RHDV2 or GI.21) is a highly infectious, usually fatal, disease of lagomorphs which has been present in the UK since 20102 and is now commonly diagnosed throughout the country.3 Similar to the rest of Europe, RHDV2 infection has been detected in European brown hares (Lepus europaeus) in England,4 although in a limited number and possibly representing a spill-over event from rabbits.5

    Similar to the rest of the UK, the European brown hare population in Scotland is reported to be in decline;6 therefore, the possibility of RHDV2 infection represents an important conservation issue, which may have a negative impact on the population.

    We report detection of RHDV2 from a retrospective analysis of the liver of a Scottish European brown hare.

    A young female hare (621 g, body length 30.4 cm) was found dead...

    Categories: Journal news

    Supporting mental health research

    It is nearly 10 years since we lost our dear friend and colleague Mark Robinson. Another member of our profession who was victim to mental illness and suicide – and there have been many more since. Mark’s death spurred me to try and make a difference and, family, friends and colleagues raised £18,000, which we donated to a, then newly established, charity – Mental Health Research UK.

    The charity was set up in 2008 to fund research on mental illness. During the past 10 years over £2 million has been raised for 17 research scholarships, this includes the Mark Robinson PhD scholarship, which looks at suicidal behaviour following different treatments for depression.

    Mental Health Research UK has received huge support from the veterinary profession, in particular, for a mental health awareness day in January – Blooming Monday. A huge thank you goes out to the RCVS, BSAVA, BVA, Vets...

    Categories: Journal news

    Non-accidental injury of animals

    We are currently undertaking a survey to establish the extent of non-accidental injuries, and other forms of animal abuse that vets see in practice. This survey will explore the types of animals involved and the specific injuries inflicted, as well as the vets’ perceptions of the links between animal abuse and human abuse.

    Ultimately it will provide knowledge of animal abuse in veterinary practices that will be used to develop support for professionals working with such cases in the future.

    We would be grateful if qualified veterinary surgeons could complete the survey, which should take about 20 minutes to complete. The survey can be found at

    Categories: Journal news
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