Journal news

Practical clinical advice fills EMS gap

A virtual extramural studies (EMS) experience to help students whose EMS placements have been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched by a practitioner-led team.

Its aim is to be a fun, positive learning environment where practitioners can share hints, tips and longer case discussions, broadly categorised by species and discipline.

Vet Colin Whiting came up with the idea a month ago and set up two Facebook groups – VetWings and RVNWings – for vets and vet nurses, respectively.

Vets are encouraged to post cases and discussions to give students the opportunity to experience real cases, as well as the range of personalities, approaches and communication styles of vets in practice.

Students can then interact – so far some cases have received hundreds of responses.

Membership of the groups stands at over 7700, mainly from the UK, but also from Australia, the USA and European vet schools.


Categories: Journal news

BSAVA launches congress on demand

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) is to provide vets and vet nurses with ‘congress on demand’ in place of its April congress.

Over the coming weeks, the association will record more than 100 hours of lectures that would have been presented at the congress. These will be ready in early May.

The association is also offering a £10 discount on its printed manuals, by using the code BSAVA10 at the online checkout. This offer is available until the end of April and can be used in conjunction with member discounts, it says.

BSAVA offers a range of other CPD including online courses, the BSAVA library, lunch and learn webinars and an archive of podcasts and proceedings of its congresses held since 2011.


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Bimeda UK has launched a combined vitamin injection for horses, cattle, pigs and dogs to the UK market. Belavit AD3E is a prescription-only product licensed for the treatment of combined vitamin A, vitamin D3 and vitamin E deficiencies. Suitable for both subcutaneous and intramuscular administration, the solution comes in a 100 ml pack. The product can be stored at ambient temperatures below 30°C and has a shelf life of two years. Previously, vets requiring vitamin A, D3 and E treatments had to source alternative products through the Veterinary Medicines Directorate using special import certificates.

Ceva Animal Health has reformulated its NSAID Allevinix, which is licensed to treat cattle, pigs and horses. The company says Allevinix is the only flunixin licensed for both intravenous and intramuscular administration over one to three days in cattle at a dose rate of 4 ml per 100 kg liveweight. Ceva adds...

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Medicines update

The points below highlight changes in marketing authorisations (MAs) that may have a significant impact on veterinary surgeons’ prescribing decisions.

New marketing authorisations

New marketing authorisations relevant to veterinary surgeons in the UK that were issued or published in February 2020 are listed in Table 1.

Table 1 also indicates where a public assessment report should become available for a product. Where available, links to these reports are accessible by clicking on the relevant product on the VMD’s Product Information Database

The European Medicines Agency publishes European Public Assessment Reports for every veterinary medicine that is authorised through a centralised procedure. Links to these reports are accessible at

There may be a delay between the issuing of a marketing authorisation to a company and the product being placed on the market.

Changes to marketing authorisationsFood-producing animals

(1) Avishield...

Categories: Journal news

Fungal abortion in dairy cattle

SRUC VS disease Surveillance headlines, January 2020

  • Lichtheimia corymbifera as a cause of abortion in a block-calving dairy herd.

  • Enteric listeriosis in a blue-faced Leicester tup.

  • Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli K88 causing acute postweaning colibacillosis in pigs.

  • Outbreak of trichomonosis in wood pigeons.

  • The mean temperature for January was 2.1°C above the long-term average, making it the fifth warmest January in a series from 1884. Overall, Scotland had 119 per cent of average rainfall and 72 per cent of average sunshine, with central and western areas duller than usual.

    CattleAlimentary tract disorders

    Six neonatal dairy calves in a herd that generally experienced good calf health died after developing diarrhoea. Cryptosporidial oocysts had been detected in a faecal sample, but losses continued despite prophylactic treatment with halofuginone.

    Calves remained with their dam to suckle colostrum and were only stomach-tubed if a problem was identified....

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    What can animal coronaviruses tell us about emerging human coronaviruses?

    Diseases are continually emerging. A conservative estimate is that there is one new human disease every eight months, with even more emerging in animals.

    In 2008, the UK Government’s Foresight programme investigated the potential threat of new and emerging diseases.1,2 Of the eight categories of diseases that were considered to be particularly important, three were prescient of the present severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. These were novel diseases, zoonotic infections and acute respiratory diseases.1

    The successful control of global diseases is dependent on a number of factors. The most common natural control comes from sufficient members of the population having immunity to the infection (ie, herd immunity). However, this can break down when either the pathogen mutates, as we regularly see with influenza viruses, or the host becomes immunosuppressed.

    Herd immunity can be enhanced by vaccination, but with newly emerging...

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    Influence of dog-appeasing pheromone on canine maternal behaviour during the peripartum and neonatal periods


    Parturition and the initial postpartum period are important moments in the reproductive cycle of dogs.


    A study assessed the effect of ADAPTIL, a dog-appeasing pheromone, on maternal behaviour during peripartum. Bitches were continuously exposed to ADAPTIL (n=20) or placebo (n=21) in double-blinded conditions from an average of about seven days before parturition up to 21 days postpartum. Differences in maternal behaviour in relation to the treatment were evaluated by the observation of specific activities through video recordings, such as the time spent by the bitch in close contact with the puppies, oronasal interaction and nursing duration and position. Videos were recorded at four time points (W0: within the first 48 hours of whelping; W1: one week after parturition; W2: two weeks after parturition; and W3: three weeks after parturition). In addition, the perception of breeders in relation to the quality of maternal care, puppies’ wellbeing and overall relationship between the bitches and the puppies was evaluated using Visual Analogue Scale at the same time points. Moreover, the daily activity of the bitches was measured by using an electronic device (FitBark dog activity trackers, Kansas City, Missouri).


    For all observed maternal behaviours, there was a steady decrease in levels as the puppies developed, independently of treatment. However, bitches exposed to ADAPTIL tended to nurse significantly more in lying position, while those exposed to the placebo nursed more in a seated position, especially at W1 (P=0.06) and W3 (P=0.005). According to the breeders, the attention scores of bitches towards puppies were significantly higher in ADAPTIL than in the placebo group at each time point (P=0.01). Moreover, a difference according to parity was observed (P=0.004), with greater attention score displayed by primiparous bitches exposed to ADAPTIL compared with placebo on W0 (P=0.02), W1 and W3 (P<0.001). The global mother–puppies relationship was also perceived as significantly better (P=0.0002) by breeders of bitches exposed to ADAPTIL, with significant differences at W2 (P=0.01) and W3 (P=0.001). The bitches’ daily activity increased starting two days before the whelp, peaked during parturition and then gradually declined up until four days postpartum. There was a trend towards a difference in the activity level according to the treatment during the full study period (P=0.09) and at two days before parturition (P=0.07). Bitches exposed to ADAPTIL were more active compared with placebo in relation to the FitBark data.


    The use of ADAPTIL in maternity modulated maternal behaviours. Concerning the caregiver’s view, bitches under the influence of ADAPTIL had greater and extended attention towards the puppies and they were eager to stay with the puppies for a longer time.

    Categories: Journal news

    Surveying bovine digital dermatitis and non-healing bovine foot lesions for the presence of Fusobacterium necrophorum, Porphyromonas endodontalis and Treponema pallidum


    Non-healing bovine foot lesions, including non-healing white line disease, non-healing sole ulcer and toe necrosis, are an increasingly important cause of chronic lameness that are poorly responsive to treatment. Recent studies have demonstrated a high-level association between these non-healing lesions and the Treponema phylogroups implicated in bovine digital dermatitis (BDD). However, a polymicrobial aetiology involving other gram-stain-negative anaerobes is suspected.


    A PCR-based bacteriological survey of uncomplicated BDD lesions (n=10) and non-healing bovine foot lesions (n=10) targeting Fusobacterium necrophorum, Porphyromonas endodontalis, Dichelobacter nodosus and Treponema pallidum/T. paraluiscuniculi was performed.


    P. endodontalis DNA was detected in 80.0% of the non-healing lesion biopsies (p=<0.001) but was entirely absent from uncomplicated BDD lesion biopsies. When compared to the BDD lesions, F. necrophorum was detected at a higher frequency in the non-healing lesions (33.3% vs 70.0%, respectively), whereas D. nodosus was detected at a lower frequency (55.5% vs 20.0%, respectively). Conversely, T. pallidum/T. paraluiscuniculi DNA was not detected in either lesion type.


    The data from this pilot study suggest that P. endodontalis and F. necrophorum should be further investigated as potential aetiological agents of non-healing bovine foot lesions. A failure to detect syphilis treponemes in either lesion type is reassuring given the potential public health implications such an infection would present.

    Categories: Journal news

    Morbidity and mortality of domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) under primary veterinary care in England


    The domestic rabbit is a common pet species, but limited research exists on the health of pet rabbits. This study aimed to characterise common disorders of pet rabbits and reasons for mortality as recorded by veterinary practices in England.


    This cross-sectional study covered anonymised clinical records of 6349 rabbits attending 107 primary veterinary care clinics.


    The median age was 3.2 years (interquartile range (IQR) 1.6–5.1), and the median adult bodyweight was 2.1 kg (IQR 1.7–2.6). The most common breed types were domestic (n=2022, 31.9 per cent), lop (1675, 26.4 per cent) and Netherland dwarf (672, 10.6 per cent). For those rabbits that died during the study period, the median age at death was 4.3 years (IQR 2.1–7.0). The most common causes of death were recorded as myiasis (prevalence 10.9 per cent, 95 per cent confidence interval (CI): 7.4 to 15.2), anorexia (4.9 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 4.0 to 10.4), recumbency/collapse (4.9 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 4.0 to 10.4) and ileus (4.3 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 3.5 to 9.5). The most prevalent specific disorders recorded were overgrown claw/nails (16.0 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 14.5 to 17.5), overgrown molar(s) (7.6 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 6.6 to 8.7), perineal soiling (4.5 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 3.7 to 5.4), overgrown incisor(s) (4.3 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 3.5 to 5.2) and ileus (4.2 per cent, 95 per cent CI: 3.4 to 5.0).


    This study augments the limited evidence base on rabbit health and can assist veterinarians to better advise owners on optimal animal husbandry priorities.

    Categories: Journal news

    Are oral essential fatty acids alone an effective treatment for symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy/onychomadesis?

    Bottom line

  • Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy/onychomadesis is a complex disease with potentially multiple different causes. The most significant contributing factors identified in the literature were genetic predisposition and diet, with mechanical trauma exacerbating clinical signs.

  • From the literature available, it appears that no treatment option is universally effective. However, in some cases, it may be prudent to trial a diet rich in fatty acids alongside antibiotic therapy.

  • Some authors report that owners perceived an improvement in the claw condition after treatment with oral essential fatty acids, or relapse after stopping treatment. Therefore, oral essential fatty acids should be considered as an adjunct or maintenance therapy alongside other suggested treatments such as tetracyclines and niacinamide, prednisolone or pentoxifylline.

  • Clinical scenario

    A five-year-old, neutered male lurcher is presented to you with a history of onychoschisis on one claw progressing to onychorrhexis and onychomadesis, which is now affecting...

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    Thymidine kinase is a biomarker for enzootic bovine leukosis

    M. Konishi, S. Kobayashi, T. Tokunaga and others

    BMC Veterinary Research (2019)

    doi: 10.1186/s12917-019-2158-4

    • What did the research find?

    The biomarkers with the highest sensitivity and specificity for enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL) were serum thymidine kinase (TK) (97.1 per cent and 97.0 per cent, respectively) and serum lactate dehydrogenase isozyme 2 (LDH2) (82.8 per cent and 81.7 per cent, respectively). The number of peripheral blood lymphocytes and the proviral load of bovine leukaemia virus (BLV) – the causative agent of EBL – had the lowest sensitivity and specificity.

    • How was it conducted?

    Blood samples collected from 281 cattle with EBL and 198 cattle infected with BLV but that had not developed EBL were evaluated. A biochemical analyser was used to measure the activity of TK, total LDH and LDH isozymes 1–5, and PCR assays were performed to quantify...

    Categories: Journal news

    Government advice needed on TB testing during Covid-19 outbreak

    I write after waiting for weeks for some coherent advice on safeguarding operators during the process of TB testing cattle during the Covid-19 outbreak. It angers me that we have some advice saying ‘please keep testing unless you feel unsafe’ and other advice saying ‘do not test unless you feel it is safe to do so’. Our veterinary associations, while working hard behind the scenes, can only give us advice and interpretations of the APHA guidance notes.

    Testing youngstock that require manual restraint, as many do, means that social distancing of 2 m is impossible. Having waited in vain for some coherent advice, in our practice, we took our own decisions to safeguard both our official veterinarians (OVs) performing TB testing and our farmer clients.

    Our simple change was to ring all those with tests booked and inform our clients that any animals requiring manual restraint (not necessarily limited...

    Categories: Journal news

    Andrew soldan, veterinary director of the APHA, responds

    I thank Andrew Biggs for highlighting some of the difficult issues facing official veterinarians (OVs) when conducting TB tests during the Covid-19 pandemic, and especially the problem of safely testing youngstock that require manual restraint. The APHA guidance to OVs has evolved over this fast moving period.

    The OV briefing notes published at the beginning of April (BN 12/20 for England, BN 13/20 for Scotland and BN 14/20 for Wales) advise that TB testing should only continue if, in the OV’s judgement, it can be done safely in accordance with current Covid-19 public health guidance.

    On 7 April, the government published further sector-specific guidance on social distancing in the workplace, including farms. This guidance re-emphasises the need for measures to prevent transmission of the virus and the important role of social distancing. However, it also recognises that in some important work situations maintaining a 2 m social distance at...

    Categories: Journal news

    Increase in animal abuse likely during lockdown

    Colleagues are clearly aware of the unprecedented times we are in with the current sanctions on movement and social interaction due to Covid-19. While these are absolutely necessary, we wish to highlight the unintended consequences that are affecting thousands of people and will have an impact on the veterinary profession.

    Since the beginning of the lockdown on 23 March 2020, calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline have increased by 25 per cent. Similarly, in the two weeks up to 31 March, domestic homicides in England and Wales doubled.

    It is very likely that there will be an increase of non-accidental injury and violence towards animals

    The link between violence to people and violence to animals is well documented; the family pet is often part of the domestic abuse cycle with perpetrators using the pet to exert power and control over their victim. Given the statistics, it is very...

    Categories: Journal news

    Can cats become infected with Covid-19?

    In a recent letter, Angel Almendros (VR, 4/11 April 2020, vol 186, pp 419-420) summarised the sporadic reports about the Covid-19 infections of two dogs (both in Hong Kong) and two cats (one in Hong Kong and another in Belgium). Although the positive results were confirmed by serological tests or RT-PCR and gene sequencing, the virus was not successfully isolated.

    The evidence is accumulating and building on almost a daily basis, but here I summarise what we know so far from researchers working on the risk to cats from SARS-CoV-2.

    After publication of the letter from Almendros, Shi and colleagues reported an experimental infection using two SARS-CoV-2 viruses (one isolated from the environment and one from a human patient with Covid-19) of a number of companion and domestic animals. They found that ferrets and cats, but not dogs, are highly susceptible to Covid-19.1

    The experimentally infected juvenile...

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    Encouraging best practice during lambing

    With the entire country focused on personal hygiene and biosecurity, I was dismayed by what I saw on the Countryfile programme on 5 April.

    The presenters visited two farms in the midst of lambing to show viewers the activities of both a shed and an outside set-up over a 24-hour period.

    We saw two lambings where the farmer delivered live lambs and on both occasions the farmer failed to wear a glove.

    I am concerned this may give the impression that this is the recommended delivery method used by our farmers. We must encourage the use of gloves in the act of assisted lambing to decrease the risk of post lambing infection. Subsequently, this will also aid in the reduction of antibiotic use. I can only hope that this is not common practice. Who is educating our farmers?

    I would also like to raise the matter of speed of...

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    Should neutering be classed as essential?

    I am disappointed that the BVA consider neutering to be a non-essential procedure during the current Covid-19 pandemic. This despite the fact that the RCVS have left it to individual vets to categorise individual procedures. I have had reports of veterinary practices refusing to neuter cats known to have been mated the previous day.

    In the last few years during the economic recession, animal charities have been increasingly overloaded with unwanted animals, in particular cats and kittens.

    If feline neutering is postponed over the next few weeks or months (the breeding season), we can expect a population explosion and clients in much reduced financial circumstance.

    I would argue that it is in the interest of animal health and welfare to continue neutering as an essential service.

    I would urge practices to consider this in their decision making.

    Categories: Journal news

    We should err on side of caution with Covid-19 advice

    No one will be unaware of the sad and disastrously heavy toll to human life around the world as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Recent World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reports have confirmed at least two cases of dogs and one case of a cat that had tested positive to Covid-19 due to human-to-animal transmission. The transmission appears to have occurred from the infected owner to the pet animal. Although some have ascertained that there is no possibility of transmission of the virus from pet animals to people, should we as vets and scientists tell people not to take any precautions until we know the answer to this?

    I would prefer to warn pet owners to be vigilant in this regard. I believe that vets should advise people not to allow mingling of pet animals from different households under any circumstances (as it is now done...

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    Daniella dos Santos, president of the BVA, responds

    In the initial three weeks of the lockdown, announced by the prime minister on 23 March 2020, we did not list neutering as an urgent or emergency procedure. This is because we did not see that the animal health and welfare benefit within those three weeks (23 March to 13 April) outweighed the need to stop the spread of Covid-19 by supporting the stay-at-home message.

    As the lockdown restrictions are continuing beyond the three weeks, we have revised our guidance and this was sent to members on 13 April. We recognise that there are animal health and welfare benefits to reducing or stopping a population explosion.

    For neutering, our updated guidance advises that vets should assess the domestic situation of the animal(s) relating to population control and socialisation need. Vets should consider if neutering is essential within the next two months (this is a rolling timeframe). The guidance also...

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    Are exotics suitable pets?

    The keeping of exotic species as companion animals has increased over the years. In Europe and the USA, over one third of all pets are exotic.1 This number does not account for the large number of illegal exotic pets. This trend has stark implications for public health, animal welfare and species conservation.

    First, we must assess the risks to human health. Exotic species can transfer infectious diseases to people, for example, in circuses2 and petting zoos.3 Among the pathogens transmissible to people, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis are prevalent among exotic pets.4 Exotic pet birds can transmit chlamydophilosis, salmonellosis and even H5N1 avian influenza.5

    In addition to zoonoses, bites, traumas and/or allergic reactions can occur, as documented for reptiles and amphibians.6 Furthermore, the keeping of dangerous species such as large carnivores and primates as pets undermines public...

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