Journal news

Keeping snakes

In his letter, Tariq Abou-Zahr (VR, 2 February 2019, vol 184, pp 157-158) states that: ‘decisions in law regarding minimum acceptable standards for keeping animals should ideally be based on sound scientific evidence’.

Abou-Zahr and colleagues’ information to Defra was opinion, evidentially unsupported, and caused the deletion of a voluntary higher minimum standard of 1 x snake length enclosures from animal welfare guidance.

In contrast, information from a raft of published peer-reviewed materials, qualified herpetologists, specialist exotics veterinarians, and other impartial sources have long supported the minimum provision of 1 x snake length enclosures that allow animals to fully stretch as part of their wellbeing.

Abou-Zahr also makes a number of presumptuous and incorrect assertions regarding the integrity of our recent article on snake spatial considerations.1 The article is a review article with a research component, and includes approximately 100 references, of which approximately 10 per cent...

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Canine influenza in a pug in Hong Kong

Canine influenza was first confirmed in greyhounds in Florida, USA in 2004, and was caused by an equine-origin H3N8 influenza A virus.1 H3N2 canine influenza virus (CIV), of avian origin, was first reported in South Korea in 2007.2 H3N2 viruses circulating among dogs in Guangdong, China in 2006-07 were also reported and sequenced.3

We report a confirmed case of H3N2 canine influenza in Hong Kong

Here, we report a confirmed case of H3N2 canine influenza in Hong Kong.

A two-month-old, male pug was illegally imported from mainland China into Hong Kong and subsequently seized by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in June 2018. During the quarantine period, the dog developed anorexia and mucoid nasal discharge. It was unresponsive to treatment with amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (Synulox RTU; Zoetis) and died eight days later. The carcase was subsequently submitted to the veterinary laboratory...

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Death notice

Geddes On 7 March 2019, William Geddes, MRCVS, of Redditch, Worcestershire. Mr Geddes qualified from Edinburgh in 1949.

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A rallying call for a wilder Scotland

Reviewed by Glen Cousquer lecturer in conservation medicine.

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Joanna Louise Aplin

A much loved and highly valued colleague who was held in high esteem by those whose lives she touched through her kind and thoughtful gestures.

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Life is an endless set of possibilities for vets

Being an RCVS Practice Standards Scheme assessor allows Samantha Scully the flexibility to work alongside being the mother of three young children. She is also a community first responder.

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Breeding problems for the future

In a paper highlighted in this week’s Vet Record (p 409), a team of vets looked at cases of canine dystocia, its clinical management and outcomes.

The cases, over 700 of them, were seen in first-opinion emergency care practices in the UK. As with most studies, there were limitations, which are described, but it gives us a good starting point to look at how well – or otherwise – breeds are breeding.

Dystocia in dogs appears to be relatively common, with reported prevalence being around 4 to 5 per cent of entire bitches. It can also be serious, with reported mortality of over 20 per cent for puppies and 1 per cent for bitches.

The most common reason for dystocia is uterine inertia, but another common reason is anatomical incompatibility – this is when the head of the puppy is large in relation to the narrowness of the pelvis...

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No plan in place for 'dangerous Bsal fungus

By Josh Loeb

Defra appears to have no plan detailing what actions it would take if the devastating chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) was to be detected in wild amphibians in the UK.

When Vet Record asked Defra what strategy it had for tackling the pathogen if and when any outbreak was to occur, the department provided no answer.

Defra is known to be overseeing surveillance schemes designed to monitor mortality in wild vertebrates and scan for diseases including Bsal, but the department’s apparent lack of a plan for a Bsal outbreak has worried conservationists.

Bsal is already present in the UK in privately owned captive amphibian collections, but there is no evidence that it is present in the wild in this country at this current time (see VR, 23 March 2019, vol 184, pp 366-367).

Jim Foster, from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, said: ‘Should the pathogen...

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'Significant bTB infection in wildlife in Cumbria

By Kathryn Clark

Eleven per cent of badgers tested following culling in a Cumbrian TB hotspot in 2018 were positive for Mycobacterium bovis, according to figures released by Defra last week.

Badger culling was authorised by Natural England last year as part of measures to tackle a cluster of bovine TB (bTB) infection that had emerged in cattle herds in so-called ‘hotspot 21’ (HS21) in eastern Cumbria. This was the first licence allowing culling in the low-risk area of England, and 602 badgers were removed from HS21 in 2018.

Defra has published surveillance findings from the first year of badger control operations in HS21 alongside a second report discussing wider surveillance for bTB in wildlife in England last year.

Badger vaccination statistics released

Figures published by Defra last week show that 641 badgers were vaccinated against bovine TB in England in 2018. Most badgers (420) were vaccinated in...

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Celebrating successes in veterinary marketing

Those involved in advertising and marketing in the veterinary and animal health industries met in London earlier this month for the annual Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA) awards.

The Advertising Campaign Award is sponsored by Vet Record and In Practice, and recognises companies that have prepared a series of advertisements that can only be fully appreciated when viewed as a whole. This year’s award went to Boehringer Ingelheim and its agency FCB Health for its International Society of Feline Medicine campaign.

The Young Marketeer of the Year Award, which recognises a young marketeer who has demonstrated marketing flair within the animal health industry, was won by Amy Scott from Boehringer Ingelheim.

Scarsdale Vets were awarded the Practice Marketing Award, with agency Fluid Ideas, for its ‘pet-specting’ campaign. This helped to prepare first-time pet owners for what was ahead, with free advice, checks and goody bags provided as part of the...

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RCVS in talks with paraprofessionals for regulation

By Josh Loeb

The Association of Meat Inspectors (AMI) is due to decide next month whether it wishes to apply to be regulated by the RCVS.

AMI treasurer Angus Lowden confirmed that the association had held discussions with the college but added: ‘I don’t think anything will be concrete until we have our annual general meeting on 13 April.’

The potential application comes after the RCVS approved a new system allowing animal health paraprofessionals – whose jobs sometimes overlap with those of vets – to be brought into the college’s regulatory orbit for the first time.

In future, paraprofessionals regulated by the RCVS might include equine dental technicians – although this would require reform of the Veterinary Surgeons Act in order to ensure they had an appropriate legal underpinning for their work.

Thus far, two paraprofessional groups – the AMI and the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) –...

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Locuming on the rise - and job satisfaction is good

Vets and vet nurses working as locums cite greater flexibility and better pay as the preeminent ‘pull’ factors.

Those were among the findings of a survey of the experiences of locum vets and vet nurses and the practices that employ them.

The research, carried out by veterinary recruitment agency Recruit4vets, found that the majority of locums felt valued in the practices where they worked and said their experience of locuming was either in line with or exceeded their expectations.

Research by the BVA last year showed the proportion of vets working as locums in clinical practice has increased in recent years.

In 2018 the proportion of companion animal vets working on a locum basis stood at 15 per cent, up from 10 per cent in 2014.

For vets overall, the proportion was 12 per cent in 2018 – compared with 8 per cent in 2014.

Recruit4vets said it surveyed...

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Owners show interest in vegan diets for their pets

By Josh Loeb

Only a very small minority of dogs and cats are currently fed an exclusively vegan diet. However, around one in three owners say they may be willing to consider switching to a vegan diet for their pet in the future.

An online survey of more than 3600 dog and cat owners – predominantly inhabitants of English-speaking countries – found 1.6 per cent of dogs and 0.7 per cent of cats are fed a wholly vegan diet at present.

The research, ‘Plant-based (vegan) diets for pets: A survey of pet owner attitudes and feeding practices’, published in the journal Plos One, found 35 per cent of pet owners who did not already feed a vegan diet to their pet indicated an interest in doing so.

Of these, 55 per cent stipulated additional requirements that would need to be met before they would feed vegan pet food to...

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