Journal news

Pre-empting welfare problems

BVA has been asked to feed into work being done by Defra’s Animal Welfare Committee, which is examining animal welfare issues that might arise out of Covid-19. The committee has been asked to look at welfare concerns that might arise within the next two months, six months and longer term legacy effects.

Council members raised a number of issues. In particular, Chris Laurence (Animal Welfare Foundation) remarked that, reportedly, there were currently some 80,000 ‘small furries’ waiting to be sold. He predicted that these would either be deemed unsaleable and euthanased, or ‘people were going to buy them and regret it later’.

He also reported that the Canine and Feline Sector Group had intended to advise that dog breeding should stop during the Covid-19 crisis, but had been overruled by Defra, which had said it should continue within limits. ‘I think there are going to be some major problems...

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Council news in brief

Junior vice president 2020/21

In an anonymous vote, Council members endorsed the nomination of Justine Shotton as BVA junior vice president for 2020/21. Her name will go forward to BVA’s annual general meeting.

Position papers

Plans for Council to discuss drafts of three major policy position papers – on welfare at slaughter, bovine TB and good veterinary workplaces – have been put on hold until the next scheduled meeting on 15 July. Given the size and complexity of these issues, it is felt that they should be discussed face-to-face rather than online. The possibility of holding a two-day Council meeting in July is being considered, but this will depend on what Covid-19 restrictions are in place at that time.

other work continues too!

Council was told that, despite the focus on Covid-19, BVA is continuing its lobbying around the UK’s EU exit trade negotiations. The Under Care...

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'Being pushed outside your comfort zone is a good way to learn

Simon Johnson was a client care adviser before qualifying as a vet nurse. He recently volunteered at a neutering clinic in Ecuador, where he faced unexpected challenges.

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Epilepsy lunch and learn

Animal health company TVM UK gives practices the opportunity to hold ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for vets and vet nurses on the diagnosis and management of epilepsy and the use of its products in achieving this. Although physical sessions are currently on hold, the company plans to reinstate them later in the year. It is currently making sessions available digitally on request and it may also continue offering digital learning sessions in the future if practices like it. The events, which include lunch, are entitled the ‘five steps of seizure management’ and cover topics such as:

• Diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy

• Monitoring and testing

• Management of status epilepticus

Product manager Will Peel says the aim is to update vets and nurses on diagnosis and management of epilepsy in general practice while educating them about products and services that can help them better support their patients. The...

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People

Davies Veterinary Specialists, the Hertfordshire small animal multidisciplinary referral practice, has made five appointments.

Tim Richardson has been appointed managing director. He qualified from Cambridge vet school in 1998 and worked in small animal general practice, initially in a clinical capacity and most recently in management. He was head vet and then owner/director of a practice in Richmond for eight years before working for the Food and Veterinary Authority in Iceland. On his return to the UK, he worked for Village Vet and then the Medivet Group, becoming deputy head of clinical operations. He will also have responsibility for Southfields Veterinary Specialists in Basildon, which is also owned by Linneaus.

Ronan Doyle has been appointed clinical director. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1999 and also completed his specialist training there, as well as holding the post of lecturer in small animal surgery. He joined Davies in 2005...

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Vets can help government tackle Covid-19

Four weeks into the Covid-19 outbreak, and the UK has been exposed on many fronts for its lack of preparedness: a lack of ventilators, insufficient supplies of protective equipment to protect frontline staff and an inability to quickly roll out testing and contact tracing capability. In a head-to-head with Germany, the UK would be the big loser.

But this week the UK’s Covid-19 battle increasingly shifted its focus to the economy. What price will the UK pay for this disease? How long will Generation Z be paying for it? How many businesses will be killed off on the way?

This week chancellor Rishi Sunak was upfront, warning of tough economic times ahead. And these will bring with them a human cost. The Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s tax and spending watchdog, said the Covid-19 outbreak could shrink the economy by a record 35 per cent by June. At...

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Decisions should be made case by case

By Josh Loeb

The scope of work that small animal vets may undertake while the UK remains in lockdown has been widened to cover tasks that go beyond merely providing urgent and emergency care.

However, the BVA has stressed that in-person work should only go ahead if there is ‘a real and not nominal’ animal welfare justification.

This means that decisions on vaccination and neutering should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Practices should avoid adopting ‘blanket’ policies on providing such services, the association says.

The BVA released its updated guidance last week in anticipation of an extension of the lockdown measures.

When first announced by the government on 23 March, the restrictions covered the three-week period to 13 April. However, expecting that there would be no let up to the curbs on daily life, the BVA issued a joint statement with the RCVS shortly before Easter in which...

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'Let us help you with testing, say vet labs

By Josh Loeb

The director of a veterinary laboratory has had no take up from the government to his offers to test thousands of samples from patients suspected of having Covid-19.

Paul Burr, director of Biobest, part of VetPartners, said his Edinburgh-based diagnostics lab could perform in the region of 2000 PCR tests a week to determine whether individuals were infected with the virus, or 2000 antibody tests to detect whether they had antibodies.

He has been offering this service to both Whitehall and the Scottish government ‘for weeks’, but so far the offer has not been taken up.

‘We are based right next to the Moredun Research Institute, and we’re collaborating with them. But I’m afraid we’ve had no positive response so far,’ Burr said.

He added: ‘We knew early on that because of our infectious disease diagnostics skills we have existing PCR-based and antibody assays that are...

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Covid-19 wake-up call for exotic pet trade

By Josh Loeb

Growing public awareness about Covid-19 and the disease risks associated with wild animals should prompt a sea change in how exotic animals are traded across the world.

That is the view from animal welfare charities working hard to stop the trade.

They say the Covid-19 pandemic highlights public health risks involved in keeping exotic pets and they are renewing calls for a Europe-wide ban on keeping certain species.

Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP), a Dutch foundation that rescues exotic mammals from poor conditions in captivity, says there is now growing support to establish a list of which animals are safe to keep as pets – and for that to be enforced across Europe.

Such a list has already been successfully introduced in Belgium and Luxembourg, and is being developed in the Netherlands.

Raquel García Hermida, AAP’s head of public policy, said primates and some reptiles should...

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Canine fertility clinics breaching lockdown

By Josh Loeb

There is ‘absolutely no welfare justification’ for continuing to provide routine canine reproductive services at the present time, the president of the BVA has said.

The warning from Daniella Dos Santos followed reports that some canine fertility clinics remain open and operational – even though the services they provide are not essential.

Dos Santos did not name clinics suspected of breaching emergency Covid-19 lockdown rules designed to protect public health, and the BVA also declined to name any.

However, Vet Record has seen evidence from the Facebook page of Tudor House Animal Care, a fertility clinic and breeder assistance business in the Midlands, suggesting that it helped arrange an English bulldog mating earlier this month while the lockdown was in place.

The clinic has other such matings ‘booked in’ and has carried out canine pregnancy scans during the lockdown, its Facebook page suggests. Several vets have...

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Searches for puppies on the rise

Searches on the Kennel Club’s ‘Find a Puppy’ tool increased by 53 per cent from February to March, with the biggest spike seen in the week leading up to the Covid-19 lockdown (16–23 March).

The top three most searched for breeds were Labradors, cocker spaniels and golden retrievers.

Holly Conway, head of public affairs at the Kennel Club, said: ‘While we would underline that now isn’t the right time to bring home a puppy...the current situation could provide a good opportunity for potential new owners to really do their research.’

She said the more time potential owners spent finding out about a breed, the more aware they would be of possible problems and so they would be more likely to bring home a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder.’

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Why do rabbits need a friend?

Georgina Mills reports on new research showing the benefits of housing rabbits together.

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RCVS makes additional EMS changes

By Gill Harris

The RCVS has made additional temporary changes to its extramural studies (EMS) requirements to support vet students during the current lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The new measures require fourth-year students to carry out only half the clinical EMS they would normally be expected to complete in order to graduate.

Current fourth-year students will need to have completed 12 weeks of preclinical EMS and at least 13 weeks of clinical EMS (50 per cent), in addition to demonstrating that they have achieved the RCVS day 1 competences.

The change has been agreed with the Veterinary Schools Council.

Recognising the impact of the pandemic on all students, the RCVS reports that it will review the situation for students in the third year and below as more information becomes available.

Before the lockdown phase was announced by the government, the RCVS had reduced the number of...

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Is this the end for the Animal Health Trust?

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) looks set to close its doors for good unless it can find last-minute emergency funding.

The charity has faced a period of ‘dire financial constraints’ but its problems have recently been compounded by the economic implications of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

As a result, the organisation, which has been a leading veterinary and scientific research centre since 1942, announced last month that it would have no option but to close.

Currently its trustees and executive committee are seeking emergency funding and a final decision regarding the long-term future of the trust is expected to be made next week.

Meanwhile, the trust has closed its offices until further notice and has stopped carrying out laboratory testing and canine DNA testing. It is uncertain if these services will resume.

Vet Record understands the news came as a complete surprise to staff, who were devastated...

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In brief

More flexibility needed on furlough

The BVA and the British Veterinary Union (BVU) are both calling for greater flexibility with the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme (furloughing).

Currently vet practices can use furloughing to reduce staff costs during the Covid-19 outbreak and many practices are adhering to social distancing by splitting staff into teams and rotating them in and out of furlough to meet the duty to provide 24/7 emergency care. However, the BVA and BVU say furloughing must be more flexible.

Reducing the minimum time that furloughed staff can be released (currently three weeks) to allow them to come back to work early should retained staff become sick or need to self isolate would be useful, they suggest.

The BVA has produced a template letter for members to adapt and send to their local MP asking for their help in securing flexibility over furloughing. It can be found...

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In other Covid-19 news

• UK zoos, which have now closed to the public, are taking extra precautions to protect great apes in their collections from contamination by keepers, the president of the British Veterinary Zoological Society has said.

Peter Kettlewell told Vet Record that, in addition to normal precautions in place before the pandemic, keepers were now wearing masks and gloves and were ‘being super vigilant about anyone who has been in contact with Covid-19 working with the great apes’. He added: ‘There is actually no evidence that this virus is transmissible to chimps or other great apes, but they are being cautious.’

• Earlier this month a four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the Covid-19. The tiger, along with six other big cats, is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.

• During the Covid-19 outbreak, Vet Record will be...

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New app helps vets provide patient care remotely

A new telemedicine app for vet practices is now available.

VisioCare Linkyvet can help vets provide high-quality medicine without putting human health at risk, while maintaining a business revenue stream, says Veterinary Insights, the company behind the app.

The app features a payment module – which will be integrated free of charge for orders taken during April – so practices can charge for services provided remotely. It can be used alone or as part of a bundle of VisioCare client communication tools.

It also delivers a secure channel for communication and allows the clinician to take photos, video and produce a case file that can be added to the clinical record.

Other features include the ability to access the client’s smartphone to zoom into areas that need to be examined, or turn on the flashlight to improve visibility. The platform has a workaround solution to deal with limitations in...

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Free 24-hour specialist support during Covid-19

Telemedicine consultants VetCT has created an online specialist support network for vet practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its aim is to help those who are dealing with challenging emergency cases, while facing reduced staffing levels, sickness and heightened levels of anxiety

VetCT invited veterinary specialists in various areas of emergency veterinary care to get involved and was ‘overwhelmed with offers from specialists wanting to give their time to help GP vets’.

Advice is available 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, and there will be absolutely no fee or tie-in for anyone using the network, the company says. The service will run until the end of May.

To register, visit vet-ct.com or for further information, email: info@vet-ct.com

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Resources during covid-19

A collection of resources on anaesthesia to help mitigate potential oxygen shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic is available from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA). The BSAVA COVID-19: Anaesthesia Resources collection is freely available until the end of June 2020. It includes information relating to total intravenous anaesthesia and anaesthetic monitoring, in addition to a new guidance document on the administration of anaesthetics during the pandemic, which has been endorsed by the Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists. It can be found at https://bit.ly/2V5Krug

Davies Veterinary Specialists is sharing advice and guidelines to help conserve oxygen during anaesthesia. Its anaesthesia team has produced a fact sheet, infographic and CPD webinar to help practitioners safely minimise the oxygen and volatile anaesthetic agent used in animals. The resources can be found at https://vetspecialists.co.uk/oxygen-conservation

Bova UK is offering a new product delivery service direct to clients to comply with...

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