Journal news

Could vets manage Covid-19 better?

Further to the two most interesting articles by Joe Brownlie and Dick Sibley (VR, 18/25 April 2020, vol 186, pp 446-448, 462-463), the second article in particular created an interesting debate between myself, my daughter and her partner – both medical doctors, each with some seven years’ experience.

We all agreed with Brownlie and Sibley’s remark about under-resourcing of the NHS.

We also all agreed on the basic application of the ‘four pillars’ of disease management described; namely biosecurity, biocontainment, surveillance and resilience. Like the authors, one worries that some of the models being used by the epidemiologists are inaccurate, especially when based on quite difficult data. As commented, similar projections were used in the 2001 UK foot-and-mouth disease outbreak to underpin government policy that was subsequently shown to be mistaken. No doubt in time we will see if this was also the case here.

However, on the matter...

Categories: Journal news

Could vets manage Covid-19 better?

I read the Editorial and the Debate article by Joe Brownlie and Dick Sibley in the same issue with some concern (VR, 18/25 April 2020, vol 186, pp 429, 462-463), which made me think about whether vets would manage the Covid-19 outbreak better.

First, Covid-19 is a human health problem.

Second, we are a profession deeply involved in a decades-old attempt to control a major – potentially zoonotic – disease caused by an infectious agent – bovine TB. In living memory we have also been involved in two large foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks. And there is no 100 per cent sure way to control Johne’s disease. So why should the government trust us?

Third, the matter of trust in partners you work with is crucial to government. For example, the government was told ventilators were needed, and lots of them, and now the clinical effectiveness of ventilators is being questioned....

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RCVS council vote an opportunity for change

I should like to thank everyone who voted for me in the 2020 RCVS council election. Despite members having to struggle with the day-to-day difficulty of continuing to care for animals during the Covid-19 crisis, there was a record turnout for an RCVS council election.

I am humbled by the level of support shown for my candidacy and delighted to have received an incredible 3943 votes. I would like to take this opportunity to commiserate with the unsuccessful candidates.

I believe that the high turnout and the fact that two new candidates have been elected demonstrates a desire for change

I believe that the high turnout and the fact that two new candidates have been elected demonstrates a desire for change in the manner in which council has recently conducted itself – particularly that members want more openness and to be involved in decision making.

I hope that...

Categories: Journal news

The ethics of culling badgers

I write in response to the Debate article by Alick Simmons on the ethics of badger culling (VR, 21 March 2020, vol 186, pp 357-358).

He lists questions on ethical wildlife control compiled by Dubois and others,1 who accept that culling can ‘be justified by evidence that significant harms are being caused to people, property, livelihoods, ecosystems and/or other animals’, and supplies his answers.

One question is ‘Are the decisions warranted by the specifics of the situation rather than negative labels applied to the animals?’.

To this, Simmons answers: ‘No they are not. While the badger enjoys comprehensive protection and is regarded fondly by a large proportion of the public, it has been characterised largely by farming interests as destructive, dirty, diseased and a threat to ground nesting birds and hedgehogs’.

But I would suggest the badger is a threat to ground nesting birds.2, 3

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Alick Simmons responds

I was pleased to see the response from Trevor Jones to the article about the killing of badgers to control bovine TB (bTB) (VR, 21 March 2020, vol 186, pp 357-358). The subject deserves vigorous debate.

The badger cull is solely a disease control measure

My original article considered the ethics of killing wildlife to control livestock disease. Jones seeks to add conservation to the debate. The badger cull is solely a disease control measure and the two issues should not be conflated.

There is no evidence that badgers affect the breeding success of ground nesting birds. Meta-analysis from 2005 concluded that the national impact of badgers on bird populations is likely to be low in the UK.1 However, Jones is correct when he states that badgers predate hedgehogs, although the extent to which the increased badger population has contributed to the decline in hedgehog populations,...

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Death notices

Day On 10 May 2020, Michael Joseph Day, BVMS, BSc, PhD, DipECVP, FASM, FRCPath, DSc, FRCVS, of Cheddar, Somerset. Professor Day qualified from Murdoch university and was admitted to the register in 1987.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m1899

Jones On 15 April 2020, Elfed James Jones, BSc, MRCVS, of Wellington, Shropshire. Mr Jones qualified from Edinburgh in 1950.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m1900

Oldham On 24 April 2020, John Godfrey Oldham, BVetMed, MRCVS, of Hedon, Hull. Mr Oldham qualified from London in 1949.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m1901

Stanton On 15 April 2020, David Stanton, BVMS, MRCVS, of Heswall, Wirral. Mr Stanton qualified from Glasgow in 1966.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m1902

Witos On 3 January 2020, Wojciech Tadeusz Witos, MRCVS of Bridgnorth, Shropshire. Mr Witos qualified from Warsaw university and was admitted into the register in 2006.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m1903

Categories: Journal news

Time to rethink our lives and businesses

It’s been a stressful and, in some cases, tragic few months. While we’re not out of the woods yet, the prime minister has laid out a ‘sketch of a roadmap’ of how to unlock the UK from Covid-19.

As this strategy evolves, it’s clear vet practices must adapt to a new normal and accommodate different ways of working for the future.

I see Covid-19 as a ctrl/alt/del reset – a rare opportunity to rethink our lives and businesses

I see Covid-19 as a ctrl/alt/del reset – a rare opportunity to rethink our lives and businesses. Three clear themes are developing to support the objective of keeping R0, the basic reproductive rate of the virus, below 1.

First, fears about a persistent risk of infection. Social distancing is likely to continue for some time, restricting mass gatherings and travel to essential-only activities. The implications for companies are huge and...

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Is this the wake up call weve needed?

Have you ever tried eating insects? I can barely watch the bushtucker trials on ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!’ without gagging like a cat with a furball. I was once offered a mealworm while travelling in South Africa, but with its fat, wrinkly, squidgy body, I just couldn’t face it. I can imagine that eating a cricket might be alright, with a nice crunch to it, but to be honest I would rather have some pork scratchings. So, it is food for thought then (no pun intended) that insects are already being farmed for animal and human consumption, and are being promoted as a viable alternative protein source to help mitigate food insecurity.

I am no eco warrior but I do try to do my bit for the environment; I take shopping bags to the supermarket rather than buying new ones, occasionally ride my bike to...

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Maintaining connections

Furloughing is presenting new challenges for wellbeing within the veterinary team. Claire Read speaks to Brian Faulkner about how best to maintain team spirit during these strange times.

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Finding a new balance

As coronavirus changes the way we live our lives, clinical psychologists Matthew Whalley and Hardeep Kaur advise on managing wellbeing.

Categories: Journal news

Combining the role of paravet and practice manager

Jildou Kornelis works for a CVS practice in the Netherlands and recently won the group’s practice manager of the year award.

Categories: Journal news

WellVet Returns...Virtually this month

WellVet – ‘the mind, body, soul wellbeing event for vet teams’ – will be held virtually this year on 23 May. The day will begin with meditation and yoga sessions and include bootcamp-style workouts, crafting, a pub quiz and healthy cooking. Plenary sessions and workshops will be presented on topics such as change management, establishing a ‘new normal’ and dealing with anxiety. Co-founder of the event Liz Barton said: ‘The point of the WellVet initiative is to enable people to develop their own bespoke wellbeing toolkit – to help them live happier and healthier lives. We take a proactive and preventive approach in pet healthcare and we need to apply this methodology to our own wellbeing.’

In the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown measures, the organisers are looking for volunteers and supporters to help them deliver a programme of support relevant for all members of the vet team. If...

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Ruminant wellbeing awards

The biennial Ruminant Wellbeing Awards highlight the important role played by vets in the continuous improvement of animal welfare for food-producing ruminants. They are organised by the World Association for Buiatrics (WAB) and sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Applications are open for two awards, which will be presented at the next WAB congress in Madrid, Spain (27 September – 1 October). Each award offers a prize of 10,000 plus reimbursement of the recipient’s travel expenses to attend the conference.

  • The Ruminant Wellbeing Research Award will be granted to a recent PhD graduate in veterinary science, animal science or related disciplines who has made an exceptional contribution to the scientific knowledge on ruminant wellbeing.

  • The Ruminant Wellbeing Achievement Award will reward a practising vet or a researcher in veterinary science, animal science or related disciplines to recognise his or her achievements in advancing the wellbeing of food-producing ruminants.

  • ...
    Categories: Journal news


    Eastcott Referrals in Swindon has recently welcomed a number of a new staff and recognises the achievement of others.

    Maria Valentina Carrozzo graduated with distinction from the University of Perugia in Italy in 2007 and is a residency-trained anaesthesiologist. After graduating, she initially worked in private practices in Italy for five years before gaining valuable experience at the National Veterinary School in Paris, and went on to spend a year at Liege University before becoming an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

    Filippo Cinti has achieved specialised status having become a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons (ECVS). He graduated from the University of Bologna in Italy in 2009, before working as a surgeon in the university’s teaching hospital while studying for his PhD. He completed a three-year ECVS-approved residency programme in small animal surgery in 2017, and achieved the certificate in small animal...

    Categories: Journal news

    Animal abuse could rise during lockdown

    By Matthew Limb

    Vets are being urged to be alert to new cases of animal abuse linked to rising levels of domestic violence under the national Covid-19 lockdown.

    The warning comes from the Links Group, which raises awareness of the connection between the abuse of people and animals.

    It says family pets are often ‘part of the domestic abuse cycle’ and harms against them could rise as households face escalating tensions because of restrictions on movement to defeat Covid 19.

    Links Group chair Paula Boyden said: ‘We need to raise awareness among the profession that sadly people will deliberately hurt pets and bring them to us to get them fixed.’

    Since the beginning of the lockdown on 23 March, calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline have risen by 25 per cent.

    Domestic homicides in England and Wales doubled (from two to four) in the two weeks up to...

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    Depression, suicidal ideation and suicide risk in German veterinarians compared with the general German population


    Higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide risk have been reported for veterinarians in various studies worldwide. This study investigates whether this is also true for German veterinarians.


    A total of 3.118 veterinarians (78.8 per cent female, mean age 41.3 years) between 22 and 69 years were included and compared with two general population samples of the same age range using the Suicide Behaviours Questionnaire-Revised and Patient Health Questionnaire.


    Current suicidal ideation was found in 19.2 per cent of veterinarians, compared with only 5.7 per cent in the general population. 32.11 per cent of veterinarians were classified with increased suicide risk, compared with 6.62 per cent in the general population. 27.78 per cent of veterinarians screened positive for depression, compared with 3.99 per cent of the general population.


    The study shows that veterinarians have an increased risk of depression and suicidal ideation and suicide risk compared with the general population in Germany. Similar to previous findings, the level of depression was higher among veterinarians than in the general population. However, this study does not explore causes for higher rates in depression, suicide risk and suicidal ideation. Since other studies strongly suggest specific risk factors lead to higher suicide risk and consequently elevated numbers of completed suicides, future research should focus on identifying and preventing causes.

    Categories: Journal news

    Attitudes of dog owners in Edinburgh towards canine blood donation

    The establishment of animal blood banks following legislative changes in the UK in 2005 has led to increasing accessibility and use of animal blood products. However, the supply of animal blood is currently not meeting demand. This study aims to identify potential methods of increasing donor recruitment to meet this demand. A questionnaire was constructed, consisting of three sections designed to evaluate owner perceptions, identify incentives for donation and to obtain demographic data. Seventy-nine responses were included, 76 of which were previous non-donors. The top three reasons for not donating in this group were uncertainty over where to donate, veterinarians not expressing the need for donors and lack of awareness. Considering these results, one method of potentially increasing donor recruitment is encouraging more veterinarians to actively advertise local donor programmes. Emphasising the mandatory inclusion of a free annual health check in the donor process may also be helpful as many respondents rated this highly. It is the authors’ hope that this preliminary data may lead to increased willingness of owners to nominate their dogs for donation by guiding the provision of appropriate incentives and education to quell owner concerns as highlighted by this study.

    Categories: Journal news

    Characterising keratometry in different dog breeds using an automatic handheld keratometer


    Keratometry is clinically important and is routinely performed as part of human ophthalmic examination. In veterinary ophthalmology, little is known about keratometry in dogs, and its practical application has been limited. The present study aimed to describe keratometry in some dog breeds popular in Japan using a handheld keratometer.


    Client-owned dogs of various signalment were enrolled prospectively in the keratometry examination. Interbreed variations in mean corneal curvatures (R1R2avg) and corneal astigmatism ((R1–R2)) were evaluated statistically with respect to their bodyweight based on the data which fulfilled the predetermined inclusion criteria. P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.


    On examination of 237 dogs from 16 different breeds, R1R2avg (mean±sd) ranged from 7.54±0.30 mm in Pomeranians to 9.28±0.19 mm in golden retrievers. (R1–R2) (mean±sd) ranged from 0.22±0.11 mm in miniature schnauzers to 0.57±0.30 mm in French bulldogs.


    The present study successfully described keratometry in 16 dog breeds. The study revealed considerable interbreed variations in both R1R2avg and (R1–R2), which did not necessarily correlate with bodyweight. These results are useful both clinically in fitting contact lenses in the management of corneal diseases and non-clinically in optometric studies in dogs.

    Categories: Journal news

    People are to blame for Covid-19

    There are indications that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease but, as yet, no proof.

    As researchers across the globe are busy interrogating this hypothesis in a race to find out more, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

    The Covid-19 infection was declared a pandemic on 11 March by the World Health Organization (WHO) and since then has spread rapidly.

    This invisible enemy has become our new obsession

    This invisible enemy which is causing fear and panic, shocking levels of suffering and death as well as significant social disruption and economic damage has become our new obsession.

    So what do we know so far about virus SARS-CoV2’s presence in animals and its transferability across species?

    Current evidence suggests that the SARS-CoV2 virus emerged from an animal source, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Being a close relative of other viruses found in horseshoe bats, it is believed to...

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    Covid-19 ray of hope as vets lend a hand

    By Josh Loeb and Georgina Mills

    Covid-19 is continuing to have a significant impact on UK vet practices, with many vets and vet nurses off sick and large numbers furloughed.

    There are, however, some tentative signs of economic hope, with indications that an initial severe squeeze on practices’ revenue is starting to ease as footfall gradually increases.

    On 17 April, the RCVS released data from a survey it carried out at the start of April that showed around 30 per cent of UK practices were at that point impacted by vets or vet nurses being off work (either because of confirmed Covid-19 cases or as a precaution).

    The survey found that, in addition, 35 per cent of practices had been impacted by other support staff self isolating.

    Over half of the 532 practices responding had seen their weekly turnover slashed since the introduction of social distancing, with the majority...

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