Journal news

What can we learn from optometrists?

We often compare the veterinary and optometry worlds as some of the key figures leading today’s veterinary businesses were previously at the heart of changes to the optometry profession.

There are lessons that we can learn from optometrists. But, we should interpret the comparisons carefully, as not all of the changes to their profession have been successful.

Seventy per cent of clinical examinations performed by optometrists are funded by the NHS. In fact, due to the evolution of minor eye conditions services commissioned by local NHS clinical commissioning groups, if you have one of these conditions (eg, conjunctivitis, sticky or wet eyes and floaters) you’re more likely to see an optometrist than your GP.

In practice, the average optometrist sees as many patients for clinical disease as for testing eyesight, all at a price fixed by the NHS. They are well placed to triage eye disease, refer to NHS...

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Biology and pathology of gorillas

Reviewed by Ghislaine Sayers head of veterinary services at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park.

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Practical sheep husbandry

This book provides a detailed, practical resource on sheep husbandry, both for new owners or more experienced animal keepers. The content is informed by the latest evidence-based practices and can be enjoyed either as a sit-down read or as a field guide offering answers to specific questions.

The first few chapters of the book explore the husbandry, behaviour and day-to-day management of sheep. The authors’ interest in the species leaves the reader well informed on the relevant anatomy and physiology. The practical step-by-step guides on ageing sheep, how to body condition score and turn a sheep are very helpful.

Lambing time has its own extensive chapter, with lots of information on housing, equipment, normal lambing, dystocias and how to assist a ewe during lambing. There is lots of veterinary advice about caring for newborn lambs and the complications that can occur.

A triumph of this book is the good...

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Lack of knowledge is top welfare concern

By Matthew Limb

Researchers have identified the top animal welfare priorities for managed animals in the UK.

In an ambitious project for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), they obtained expert consensus for 11 cross-cutting priorities across a range of species.

Lack of knowledge among both vets and owners of the welfare needs of species and a lack of species-specific behavioural knowledge were the concerns that occurred most frequently across all groups.

Other priority issues identified were: social and problem behaviour, lack of health or veterinary care, delayed euthanasia, poor diets and inappropriate breeding decisions (see box).

Poor recognition and treatment of pain, chronic/endemic health issues, lack of appropriate environments and neonatal morbidity/mortality also feature.

The findings, which have yet to be published in full, will inform future AWF policy, funding and research.

They follow extensive survey work by a team led by Cathy Dwyer, director of the Jeanne Marchig...

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'UK - dont let your standards slip, warns US animal welfare expert

By Matthew Limb

The UK should hold on to its high animal welfare standards and not join ‘a race to the bottom’ in pursuit of a transatlantic trade deal, a leading US veterinary academic has warned.

Jim Reynolds told the Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum: ‘The US is looking desperately to export low-value products, that’s how we make money. So keep your high-value welfare because that becomes something we can attain – our welfare programmes stem from Europe.’

Reynolds, who is professor of large animal medicine and welfare at Western University, California, said US agriculture had become a ‘commodity system’ in which profit margins were low, so farm businesses had grown larger ‘to sell more products’ and were looking to expand markets.

‘When a food product becomes a commodity, it can become a race to the bottom,’ he said.

He said some farms in the Mid West kept cattle...

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'Advise clients of no-deal pet travel rules

By Georgina Mills

Vets are being reminded that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will no longer be part of the pet passport scheme and they must advise pet owners on what steps to take to prepare their pets for travelling abroad.

The message came from UK chief vet Christine Middlemiss in a recently published video on Twitter. Along with the video for vets, a video for pet owners was published on Facebook.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, pet owners will need to contact their vets at least four months before travelling to have adequate time for the additional health preparations required.

As the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, this means that those wishing to travel to the EU on 1 November 2019 should discuss requirements with their vet by 1 July at the latest.

Vets should...

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Travelling fellowships awarded for One Health projects

Three research projects with One Health principles at their core are set to benefit from funding from the Soulsby Foundation.

Fellowships totalling more than £25,000 have been awarded to three researchers to help them to travel to progress their understanding in their research areas.

Harriet Auty, from Scotland’s Rural College in Inverness, will use her fellowship to travel to Tanzania to investigate how research into animal and human African trypanosomosis can inform evidence-based policy on controlling the pathogen.

Meanwhile, Lorena Sordo, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, will travel to the USA to learn a methodology that will allow her to further her studies of cats with an Alzheimer’s-like disease.

The third researcher to receive a fellowship is Lian Thomas from the University of Liverpool. She will travel to Nairobi in Kenya to investigate and quantify the risk to consumers from multiple potential hazards in pork supplied...

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Will there be a fall in pet vaccination figures?

By Josh Loeb

New figures on the proportion of pets receiving primary vaccinations and boosters are being hotly anticipated after a concerning dip in the UK vaccination rate over recent years.

Data from the 2018 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report appeared to suggest there may have been a very recent levelling off of the vaccination rate following an overall decline since 2013.

However, it is expected that when the most up-to-date figures are published this summer in the 2019 PAW report they will show the rate is still below the level needed to be confident of achieving herd immunity across the UK.

The expense involved and a notion that vaccination is ‘not necessary’ are among the top reasons cited by pet owners for not getting their animals vaccinated, according to the last report.

PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan warned low levels of vaccination uptake could ‘absolutely’ affect herd immunity, risking...

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Reproduction comes at a cost

Studies of a wild population of sheep in the St Kilda archipelago in Scotland have found that ewes can end up paying a heavy price. Kathryn Clark explains

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In brief

Antibiotic use falls again in pig industry

Antibiotic use in pigs dropped by 16 per cent in 2018, continuing a trend seen over the past four years.

Figures from the industry’s electronic medicine book (eMB) show that the amount of antibiotic used in 2018 was 110 mg/PCU, edging the industry closer to its 2020 target of 99 mg/PCU.

Antibiotic use in the pig industry has fallen from 238 mg/PCU in 2015 to 183 mg/PCU in 2016 and to 131 mg/PCU in 2017.

The eMB is led by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and allows producers to benchmark themselves against others with similar production systems, enabling them to understand their own patterns of use and, alongside their vets, make informed decisions around animal treatments.

The data from the eMB cover 89 per cent of pigs slaughtered in the UK.

There was also a further decrease in the use of...

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Can pyoderma in dogs be treated with fewer antibiotics?

Staphylococcal skin infections, generally referred to as pyoderma, are a very common reason for the prescription of antimicrobials for pet dogs.1-3 These infections, usually involving Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, vary in severity based on the depth of infection, the location on the body, the extent of body surface involved, the dog’s general health status and any underlying skin disease.4 Superficial staphylococcal lesions consist of papules, pustules and/or epidermal collarettes (Fig 1), while deep skin infection generally presents with furuncles, draining tracts and/or haemorrhage from erythematous and oedematous skin (Fig 2).

Topical disinfectant therapies are often sufficient to treat superficial skin infections, but may not be sufficient in cases of severe, widespread or deep infection.5,6 In cases where using a topical disinfectant alone cannot treat the infection, systemic antimicrobial therapy is often required. However, increasing antimicrobial...

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Reduced antimicrobial prescribing during autogenous staphylococcal bacterin therapy: a retrospective study in dogs with pyoderma

Autogenous staphylococcal bacterins are commonly mentioned as treatment for canine recurrent pyoderma but little is known about their efficacy. This retrospective study describes use and assesses efficacy of an autogenous Staphylococcus (pseud)intermedius bacterin in dogs with pyoderma. Frequency and duration of systemic antimicrobial therapy were compared 12 months before and after starting bacterin (Wilcoxon signed-rank test) with data extracted from general practice medical histories.

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Potential new sources of hypoglycin A poisoning for equids kept at pasture in spring: a field pilot study

Equine atypical myopathy in Europe results from hypoglycin A (HGA) exposure through the ingestion of samaras or seedlings of the sycamore maple tree. This pilot study aimed at better defining sources of HGA intoxication in spring. Samaras fallen on the ground and then seedlings were collected at two-week intervals from sycamore, Norway, and field maple trees over the spring 2016. In early April, rainwater from wet seedlings collected after a rainy night was harvested to be analysed. Mid-May, samaras of the box elder, common ash, and inflorescences of sycamore maples were collected on the tree. Quantification of HGA in samples was performed using high performance thin layer chromatography. Hypoglycin A was detected in all samples from sycamore including rainwater but tested negative for Norway, field maples. The samaras of the box elder found in the present study area did not contain a seed within their husk and thus tested negative. From the maximum HGA concentrations found, it may be extrapolated that at some periods and locations, about 20 g of samaras, 50 seedlings, 150 g of inforescences or 2 liters of water that has been in contact with seedlings would contain the maximum tolerated dose per day for a horse.

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Potential role of wildlife in the USA in the event of a foot-and-mouth disease virus incursion

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is caused by foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) which affects domestic and wild cloven-hoofed species. The FMD-free status of the USA and the tremendous economic impact of a virus incursion motivated the development of this evaluation of the potential role of wildlife in the event of a virus introduction. Additionally, this manuscript contains a summary of US vulnerabilities for viral incursion and persistence which focuses specifically on the possible role of wildlife. The legal movement of susceptible live animals, animal products, by-products and animal feed containing animal products pose a risk of virus introduction and spread. Additionally, the illegal movement of FMD-susceptible animals and their products and an act of bioterrorism present additional routes where FMDV could be introduced to the USA. Therefore, robust surveillance and rapid diagnostics in the face of a possible introduction are essential for detecting and controlling FMD as quickly as possible. Wildlife species and feral pigs present an added complexity in the case of FMDV introduction as they are typically not closely monitored or managed and there are significant logistical concerns pertaining to disease surveillance and control in these populations. Recommendations highlight the need to address existing knowledge gaps relative to the potential role of wildlife in FMDV introduction events.

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Selected highlights from other journals

Assessing the prevalence of equine dental disease in the UK

H. E. Nuttall, P. J. Ravenhill

The Veterinary Journal (2019) 246, 98–102

doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2019.02.005

• What did the research find?

The prevalence of periodontal disease, diastemata and peripheral caries was found to be 13.9 per cent, 8.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent, respectively. Periodontal disease was more common in the mandibular arcades and in the premolar cheek teeth. Diastemata were also observed more frequently in these teeth, and periodontal disease and diastemata were found to be positively correlated. Peripheral caries were significantly more common in molar cheek teeth. Increasing age was a significant risk factor for periodontal disease and diastemata, but sex did not appear to be a risk factor for dental disease.

• How was it conducted?

The dental records of 932 horses, taken over a one-year period by a first-opinion practice covering south-western England and southern...

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Vets and farriers

I read with considerable interest the article by a client on her views on the relationship between veterinary surgeons and farriers (VR, 13 April 2019, vol 184, p 486).

During my tenure as chairman of the Farriers Registration Council I was very aware of the importance of maintaining good relationships between the professions. In order to further the relationship, the Worshipful Company of Farriers has developed a very successful scheme, which has been running for a number of years, whereby a senior veterinary student from each of the veterinary schools spends a week with a farrier.

However, attempts to institute a reciprocal scheme whereby senior farriery apprentices can spend time with equine veterinary surgeons have been unsuccessful. This has failed to materialise despite approaches to the British Equine Veterinary Association and senior members of the profession.

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Attainment achieved from internships

Internships are increasingly offered in private and academic practice in the UK. However, there is limited understanding of what is attained by veterinary surgeons undertaking these programmes. Understanding the current attainments will allow the development of intern programmes with an ultimate aim of improving quality and delivering what stakeholders, such as residency programme coordinators, need and want.

There is limited under-standing of what is attained by veterinary surgeons undertaking intern programmes

Recent work performed by us and published last year in Vet Record1 outlined achievements of a small cohort within academic programmes.

We would like to expand on this to improve understanding of what is achieved by those who have completed internships more generally in the UK.

If you have completed an internship in the UK, at any time, we would be grateful if you could spend a few minutes of your time to complete this...

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Renate Weller, President of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), responds

BEVA shares both Ronald Jones’ recognition of the importance of a good vet-farrier relationship and the client’s recognition that good communication is likely to provide the best chance of a positive outcome.

We have worked hard in recent years to foster the relationship between farriers and vets. BEVA congress regularly includes a day-long joint farriery/vet session, with heavily subsidised rates for farrier apprentices; this year world-renowned farriers including Haydn Price and Pat Reilly will be speaking.

We have actively commissioned and published farriery-related articles and editorials in Equine Veterinary Education, including related correspondence about the vet-farrier relationship.

Joint CPD events are being planned and BEVA recently provided direct input to the Worshipful Company of Farriers’ Future of Farriery roundtable.

I have personally always taken a close interest in the crossover between veterinary and farriery care and, as well as being BEVA’s president this year, I am the lead on...

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Imposter syndrome in the vet profession

There has been much written about veterinarians’ mental health. Yet a common issue faced by many medical professionals has not been studied or even discussed within the veterinary profession. I am referring to imposter syndrome – that is, feeling like a fraud, feeling like you are pretending and that you don’t really have the skills, knowledge or competence you should have.

These feelings often exist despite external recognition and evidence of good (and often, excellent) work. Imposter syndrome is strongly associated with psychological distress – especially depression and anxiety – and is linked to burnout.

It has been suggested that medical professionals may be particularly vulnerable to imposter syndrome. Yet, no studies have been done assessing the prevalence and impact of imposter syndrome for veterinarians. We are hoping you can help us change this.

We have created a short, anonymous online survey to better understand veterinarians’ experiences with imposter...

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The anti-vax phenomenon

Following Josh Loeb’s editorial ‘Don’t let the anti-vaxers win’ (VR, 25 May 2019, vol 184, p 629), we provide further information on the ‘anti-vax’ phenomenon.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers vaccine hesitancy to be one of the top 10 risks to global public health.1 Vaccine hesitancy or refusal refers to people delaying, or not getting, recommended vaccines for various reasons, including complacency, not understanding the disease risks, not knowing vaccines are available, fear of needles, inconvenience and cost.

Most people who do not get vaccinations for themselves or their animals are not ‘anti-vaxers’ – that term refers to those who oppose vaccination per se. A small number of anti-vaxers campaign against vaccination. Their influence, primarily via pseudoscience and misinformation on social media2, 3 is an important cause of vaccine hesitancy and refusal. Anti-vaxers allege that vaccinations do more harm than good, typically...

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