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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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

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Radiation safety

I am sure the illustration associated with a very thought-provoking article by a horse owner (VR, 8 June 2019, vol 184, p 716) is a stock editorial image. It does, though, suggest that attention to radiation safety can be far from ideal.

Despite advances in veterinary radiography with the rapid integration of high frequency x-ray generators and digital radiography systems, the damaging effects of x-radiation have not changed. For many years the veterinary nursing profession has been a strong advocate and often gatekeeper of safe radiographic practice.

Anecdotal evidence from veterinary students on EMS placements would suggest that deviation from safe practice is not uncommon and may be most frequent in peripatetic radiography of large animals that, coincidentally, may often fall outside the purview of veterinary nurses.

This is a situation where none of us should be inhibited from speaking up when we are concerned that safety standards are...

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Editors response

The image used in this article was, as you suspected, a stock image. However, I would acknowledge that the image was ambiguous as to the point in the process when the picture was taken and hence could be seen as bad practice.

We would also encourage readers to consult the BVA’s guidance notes on radiation safety.

Categories: Journal news

Telemedicine - the threat in the opportunity

Since the RCVS held an Innovation Symposium in 2017, there has been wide coverage of telemedicine in the veterinary press, mostly commending the overall concept. This is broadly welcome; undoubtedly telemedicine has the capacity to greatly enhance veterinary care. But, there are some aspects that sadly represent an abrogation of that care.

It is important to consider what, precisely, is meant by telemedicine, because within the current debate, the term is used somewhat loosely. At its simplest, telemedicine is no more than an extension of the use of the telephone. Anyone who has had a pony owner call them regarding a cut leg would be grateful for the ability to view the location of the wound and decide how urgent the call may be. Farm practice would also be lost without phone advice. Equally, we’ve consulted colleagues via phone, and perhaps emailed radiographs for a second opinion. Phone ECG...

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Alistair Robert Gibson

He was keen to share his invaluable knowledge and expertise in his field of small animal cardiology. A well educated, witty man, he had a wicked sense of humour and an infectious smile.

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BVA President praises the significant work of Scottish vets ahead of Brexit

The potential challenges and opportunities of Brexit were discussed at this year’s BVA Scottish Dinner. Helena Cotton, BVA Public Affairs Manager, and Hayley Atkin, Policy Officer, report.

Categories: Journal news

Campaigning pays off with Shortage Occupation List recommendation

In welcome news for the profession, the Migration Advisory Committee has recommended to the Home Office that vets should be restored to the Shortage Occupation List. This is the culmination of years of campaigning by BVA, in collaboration with the RCVS, Defra, Food Standards Agency, Major Employers Group, SPVS and others.

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AWF Discussion Forum - the premier welfare debate

Animal Welfare Foundation Manager Erika Singh reviews highlights from this year’s sell-out AWF Discussion Forum.

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Guidelines produce positive outcomes all round in advertising campaign

Media Officer Charlotte Raynsford explains how an unexpected call from Fidelity International made for a successful collaboration and an approved dog breed in a new TV advertising campaign.

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What makes a good first job?

Chloe Roberts, BVA Council recent graduate representative and East Midlands Young Vet Network Coordinator, offers some advice on finding the right first job.

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BVA at the London Vet Show - ideas, thoughts and topics you wont find anywhere else

Ahead of this year’s London Vet Show, Zoe Davies, BVA Head of Marketing, outlines the different programmes, streams and sessions that will be on offer from BVA.

Categories: Journal news

Guidance for the safe use of ionising radiations in veterinary practice

The third edition of BVA’s guidance notes for the safe use of ionising radiations in veterinary practice is now available. The new edition explains the key changes that are now in force as a result of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017, and provides guidance on how to carry out simple and appropriate risk assessments and develop your local rules. We have also worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to clarify the tiered approach to fail-safe lighting and its application in veterinary practice.

All employers who work with ionising radiations must inform HSE of their use. Notifications given under IRR99 or IRR85 are no longer valid and all employers were expected to have reapplied under the new regulations by 5 February 2018. If you have not yet done so, we strongly recommend that you make this a priority. HSE has informed us that the grace period has...

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