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Broadening my horizons

1 June 2019

Johanna Forsyth is the first vet to have been awarded a BSAVA masters in clinical veterinary research. Here, she describes how postgraduate study helps her enjoy her diverse role and build her career.

Categories: Journal news


1 June 2019

The Royal Veterinary College has awarded honorary fellowship to Michael Lairmore, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), in recognition of his outstanding leadership in veterinary medicine and One Health. ‘Under Lairmore, UC Davis has grown as a leader in developing new veterinary medical practices and fostered new discoveries in veterinary and human health. It has also made major advances in student diversity, and has significantly expanded the number of women in leadership positions.’

MSD Animal Health has announced that Amie Wilson of Ashbrook Equine Hospital, Cheshire, has been awarded its 2018 veterinary surgeon research bursary in the companion animal sector. Her research proposal is on current equine vaccination practices and protocols used by vets in the UK. Applications for the 2019 bursaries will open in August and details can be found at

Hamilton Specialist Referrals has announced...

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Update on Klebsiella pneumoniae septicaemia outbreaks in preweaned pigs

1 June 2019

This focus article has been prepared by Susanna Williamson, Cornelia Bidewell and Manal AbuOun of the APHA.

Categories: Journal news

Benefits of a vet-led team

1 June 2019

This week the BVA launched its vision for the veterinary team of the future.

The set-up is described as a ‘hub and spoke’ model, and is vet-led, with the vet ‘hub’ coordinating services and care out to the ‘spokes’ – allied veterinary professionals – who should refer back to the vet hub when necessary.

The allied professionals include an array of technicians with expertise that many vet practices already employ or work closely with, including farriers, behaviourists, physiotherapists, embryo transfer technicians, meat hygiene inspectors and equine dental technicians. And, of course, veterinary nurses.

The model proposed by the BVA supports a clearer, expanded role for vet nurses, with the aim to introduce new career pathways for them. It also recommends the veterinary nursing title be protected in law.

Anything that can provide clarity around Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, which allows certain tasks to be delegated to...

Categories: Journal news

Migration experts recognise vet shortages

1 June 2019

By Josh Loeb

Veterinary employers look set to find it easier to recruit from outside the EU after government migration advisers recommended restoring vets to the Shortage Occupation List.

A report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), released this week, was immediately hailed by the BVA as a ‘huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community’.

Restoring vets to the list had been a top priority for the association, and the report had been hotly anticipated for months.

The MAC ranked vets at number 44 in a league table of 105 occupations reported to have shortages, with the occupation at the top of the table (computer programmers and software development professionals) judged as being most eligible for inclusion in the list while the occupation at the bottom (librarians) was assessed as least eligible.

The MAC’s recommendation means key stakeholders in the profession...

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News section PDF

1 June 2019
Categories: Journal news

'Hub and spoke model puts vets in control

1 June 2019

By Josh Loeb

Vets should be at the centre of all treatment of animals, guiding associated allied professionals in appropriate procedures and care.

That is according to a new vision for effective collaboration between vets and members of the teams they lead, unveiled this week by the BVA.

The association describes vets as the ‘hub’, with allied professionals acting as ‘spokes’.

Spokes encompass, among others, registered veterinary nurses (RVNs), meat hygiene inspectors, embryo transfer technicians, animal care assistants, foot trimmers, hydrotherapists and behaviourists.

Clients would be directed first to hubs, who would manage and lead spokes, overseeing and directing treatment.

Diagnoses and referrals would be made by hubs, whose surrounding spokes would then carry out particular procedures or treatments and return cases back to the hub for further direction when necessary.

The wheel analogy can be viewed as an attempt by the BVA to bring order to a complex...

Categories: Journal news

Vet nurse who poisoned own dog struck off

1 June 2019

By Josh Loeb

The past behaviour of a convicted animal abuser is ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with her continuing to hold the title of registered veterinary nurse (RVN), a disciplinary committee has decided.

Dunbartonshire-based Georgina Bretman poisoned her two-year-old cocker spaniel, Florence, with insulin in June 2013, causing the dog to suffer from hypoglycaemia, collapse, convulsions and seizures. The animal needed immediate veterinary treatment to avoid coma and death.

Bretman’s then employer grew suspicious after seeing Florence and subsequently reported Bretman to the Scottish SPCA.

In August 2017 Bretman was convicted of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to her dog. She was sentenced to carry out 140 hours of unpaid ‘community payback’ work. In addition, an order was made to take Florence away from her, and she was banned from owning a dog for two years.

The case was brought to the RCVS disciplinary committee last month. The delay from the...

Categories: Journal news

'Revoking unlawful bird licences was right

1 June 2019

By Josh Loeb

Natural England has defended its decision to revoke three so-called ‘general licences’ that allowed for the killing of certain birds in order to protect livestock, saying that it had no choice but to take that action.

The decision in April followed a legal challenge by campaign group Wild Justice, which describes itself as having been set up to ‘fight for wildlife’.

Wild Justice’s case was essentially that lethal methods of control could only legally be used as a last resort.

Its lawyers argued that, before permitting the killing of wild birds, Natural England was legally obliged to first ‘properly satisfy itself’ that no alternative non-lethal means, such as scaring, existed and could prove effective.

After taking legal advice, Natural England conceded that its general licences, in the form in which they were originally written, did not comply with UK and EU law. It therefore revoked them.

Categories: Journal news

What do graduates want from their employers?

1 June 2019

The RCVS and Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) have joined forces to launch a new survey for employers of recent graduates.

It aims to make it simpler for employers to give insights about recent graduates, while also reducing the number of survey requests received from individual vet schools.

The results are expected to provide valuable evidence about recent graduates’ preparedness for practice and experiences of professional life after university.

The survey comes after the Vet Futures project found there was often a mismatch between the expectations of veterinary graduates and the reality of veterinary practice.

Any future changes to policy – for example, those aimed at bolstering support for recent graduates in a bid to improve retention rates – can then be evaluated against the results.

Ewan Cameron, VSC chair and a member of RCVS council, said the scheme was part of an ‘improved and ongoing conversation with the employers...

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Diving deep to detect manta ray pregnancies

1 June 2019

Georgina Mills explains how researchers have used cutting-edge technology to learn more about reproduction in manta rays in the Maldives.

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In brief

1 June 2019
RVC rowing crew takes on 100 km test

A team of students from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has rowed 100 km to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, as well as supporting their college boat club.

Setting off at 5:30 am from Reading Boat Club last week, the coxed eight team rowed continuously and unaccompanied to the University of London Boat Club in Chiswick, arriving there some 18 hours later at 11:30 pm. The endurance test has only been completed once before by another team at the RVC.

It was a challenging row with technical malfunctions and the heat making it difficult for the crew – in addition, they had to pass through 22 locks along the way.

The crew have raised over £2000 so far and donations can be made at

RCVS signs mental health pledge

THE RCVS has shown its commitment...

Categories: Journal news

Medicines update

1 June 2019

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 April 2019 are listed in Table 1.

Of those products listed, the VMD draws attention to:

  • Arti-Cell Forte suspension for injection for horses, containing chonodrogenic induced equine allogeneic peripheral blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells, indicated for the reduction of mild to moderate recurrent lameness associated with non-septic joint inflammation in horses is a novel stem cell product.

  • 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...

    Categories: Journal news

    Disease surveillance in England and Wales, May 2019

    1 June 2019

    APHA disease surveillance report headlines

  • Metabolic bone disease in dairy heifers

  • Warning of a possible increase in cases of oestrosis (nasal bot fly) in sheep this summer

  • Mulberry heart disease in pigs found dead

  • Infectious bronchitis virus and colisepticaemia in broilers

  • Update on Klebsiella pneumoniae septicaemia in preweaned pigs

  • Highlights from the scanning surveillance networkCattleMetabolic bone disease

    Recumbent weaned animals were a feature of investigations by the APHA Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC) on four farms. Two of these cases were in fattening bulls, while, more unusually, two were in replacement dairy heifers.

    The affected dairy heifers were between four and six months old. In the largest herd of 450 cows, five of a group of 60 heifers were reported to have become recumbent over a period of about three weeks. They made repeated attempts to rise without success. In the second...

    Categories: Journal news

    Improving the diagnosis of canine keratoconjunctivitis sicca

    1 June 2019

    Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a relatively common condition affecting dogs worldwide.1-3 KCS is characterised by a deficiency in the production of the aqueous portion of the tear film, leading to conjunctival hyperaemia, bacterial overgrowth, ocular discharge, corneal vascularisation, corneal pigmentation, ocular pain and loss of vision.4-6 The primary cause of KCS is immune-mediated, but many other causes have also been reported, including congenital, metabolic, infectious, drug-induced, neurogenic, radiation, iatrogenic and idiopathic.7

    The diagnosis of KCS is based on the presence of consistent clinical signs and measurement of decreased aqueous tear production using the Schirmer tear test (STT).8 It is largely accepted that an STT value greater than 15 mm/minute is considered normal for dogs, 11 to 14 mm/minute indicates subclinical KCS, 6 to 10 mm/minute indicates mild KCS and 5 mm/minute or less indicates severe KCS. However,...

    Categories: Journal news

    Characterisation of corneal impression cytology in dogs and its application in the diagnosis of keratoconjunctivitis sicca

    1 June 2019

    Determine morphological and morphometric parameters of corneal epithelium in dogs, and determine the cellular alterations that occur in canine keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) using impression cytology.

    Study animals

    60 dogs divided into two groups: dogs with Schirmer tear test (STT) at least 15 mm/minute and absence of ocular disease, and dogs with STT less than 15 mm/minute and clinical signs of KCS.


    Impression cytology was used to collect corneal samples. The percentage of eyes with cell changes, the number of such cells and the percentage of cells with structural alterations in each group were determined. The possible correlation between corneal epithelium alterations and decreased tear production was evaluated.


    A significant positive correlation existed between STT and the area of the cytoplasm and nucleus of corneal cells. A significant negative correlation was found between STT and the nucleus/cytoplasm ratio, and the presence of cellular changes. A significant difference existed between the numbers of pyknotic nuclei, being higher among animals with all stages of KCS.


    Corneal impression cytology can be used to assess the corneal epithelium in healthy eyes and eyes with KCS, demonstrating its usefulness as a diagnostic tool especially in mild and early cases.

    Categories: Journal news

    Computed tomographic grading of middle ear disease in domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculi)

    1 June 2019

    Ear disease, involving the middle and external ear, is commonly reported in pet rabbits, with lop-eared breeds predisposed. CT is the most reliable imaging modality for identifying otitis media (OM) in rabbits. This study aimed to develop a CT-based grading scale to classify the severity of CT changes in rabbits with presumed OM. Three observers independently reviewed CT images of 36 rabbits with OM. For both OM and material within the external ear canal, a grade of I to IV was used, (I=mild, IV=severe disease) and the level of agreement between reviewers was statistically evaluated. The study demonstrated that grades from the three reviewers showed a strong level of interobserver agreement. Comparisons between clinical signs and CT grade were also evaluated. Rabbits with grade IV OM had a high grade of material in the external ear canal. A high proportion of rabbits (83 per cent) underwent CT scanning conscious, demonstrating that diagnostic quality CT images are achievable without the need for anaesthetic intervention, minimising patient risk. This novel CT-based grading scale provides a methodology to correlate grade of disease with clinical signs, ear canal cytology, predisposing factors, treatment options and outcomes for rabbits with ear disease.

    Categories: Journal news

    Reduction in morbidity and mortality of dairy calves from an injectable trace mineral supplement

    1 June 2019

    The effect of a multimineral preparation on the health and growth of spring born, dairy calves was investigated on four New Zealand pastoral farms. Calves were randomly allocated injections within 24 hours of birth, 35 days and 70 days after birth. Injections contained 40 mg zinc, 10 mg manganese, 5 mg selenium, 15 mg copper and 5 mg chromium per ml (Multimin+Se+ Cu+Cr Cattle, Virbac South Africa) at 1 ml/50 kg body weight. Morbidity, mortality from natural challenge and growth rates were recorded for 140 days. There were no differences in morbidity and mortality within 48 hours of birth for treated calves compared with controls, P=0.192. Morbidity and mortality were highest at 3–35 days (7.5 per cent [95 per cent CI 5.00 to 9.99] treated calves sick and 15.6 per cent [95 per cent CI 12.48 to 18.73] controls sick, P<0.001). For this period, mortality was lower at 4.4 per cent (95 per cent CI 2.49 to 6.41) treated calves and 10.4 per cent (95 per cent CI 7.78 to 13.03) controls, P<0.001. Allowing for potential confounders, the adjusted OR of treated calves scouring between 3 and 35 days was 0.44 (95 per cent CI 0.24 to 0.82, P=0.009). Allowing for potential confounders, from 0 to 140 days a second model predicted treatment approximately halved the probability of morbidity and mortality (P<0.001). There was no difference in the daily rate of gain (0.67 kg/day [95 per cent CI 0.66 to 0.67] for treated calves).

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    1 June 2019
    UK farmers underestimate lameness in beef cattle

    J. Tunstall, K. Mueller, D. Grove White and others

    Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2019) 6

    doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00094

    • What did the research find?

    Most of the farmers questioned underestimated lameness prevalence on their farms when compared with the researcher’s evaluations, with a mean underestimate of 7 per cent. This is an important barrier to lameness detection and treatment. Analysis of interview transcripts identified four key areas of concern: recognition of lameness, treatment approaches, the training provided to farmers and confusion over transport and slaughter options available.

    • How was it conducted?

    A total of 21 UK beef farmers were recruited to this study. The farmers were asked to estimate the lameness prevalence on their farm before a researcher conducted locomotion scoring of their herd using a five-point scale. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were also conducted to capture information such as current approaches, their...

    Categories: Journal news

    Stay vigilant for bluetongue

    1 June 2019

    Colleagues will be aware of the threat to UK livestock from infectious diseases currently circulating in Europe. Last year we were unfortunate to see three consignments of livestock imported into the UK which were found to be positive for bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) and it was only through the swift and very effective action taken by colleagues, working as government vets, that this disease was rapidly detected, and spread was prevented on each occasion.

    Midge activity is at its highest between April and November, so we are now in the vector season

    We would like to remind colleagues working with ruminants that they should encourage all their clients to take proper advice to control disease risks if they are considering importing any livestock to the UK. Even animal movements that have been arranged legally may pose a risk unless carefully considered and managed. BTV-4 and -8 continue...

    Categories: Journal news