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Sentience is still on the table, Defra insists

4 April 2019

By Josh Loeb

Animal welfare minister David Rutley last week insisted that the government was still ‘actively’ working to introduce legislation on animal sentience at the earliest possible opportunity.

However, his department was accused of ‘inaction’ by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, who said she had tabled her own draft legislation in parliament in a bid to make progress.

Their exchange took place during a meeting of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EfraCom) at which ministers, including environment secretary Michael Gove, replied to MPs’ questions on Brexit.

Under a type of parliamentary procedure designed to let backbench MPs exert pressure on any particular issue, McCarthy this week released her own personal plan of legislative action to mirror, in UK law, an EU treaty clause on animal sentience.

The move is the latest development in the long-running debate over how to proceed on the issue of animal sentience.


Categories: Journal news

StreetVet on the hunt for supporting practices

4 April 2019

Vet-led charity StreetVet is looking to build a network of practices that it can refer to when a patient needs hospitalisation or procedures.

StreetVet, which was set up by Jade Statt and Sam Joseph (pictured left with dog Bailey), provides free veterinary care for the dogs of homeless people. It is now active in 13 locations across the UK, with plans to increase this to 20 by the end of 2019.

The charity does as much as it can on the street from its backpacks, but sometimes a StreetVet-funded referral to a practice is required. It also has a network of ‘StreetVet-supporting’ practices that can help the dogs of homeless people in locations where the charity is not yet established, by offering reduced or pro-bono work.

Any practices interested in supporting the work of StreetVet can find out more by emailing


Categories: Journal news

RCVS announces its 2019 award winners

4 April 2019

By Georgina Mills

Lord Trees is to be awarded the Queen’s Medal from the RCVS, as part of the college’s annual awards.

The Queen’s Medal is the highest award that can be bestowed by the college upon an individual vet, and recognises one who has achieved a highly distinguished career with sustained and outstanding achievements throughout.

This medal, and numerous other awards, will be presented at Royal College Day in July.

Lord Trees, who is veterinary editor-in-chief of Vet Record, was made a life peer of the House of Lords in July 2012 following a long and distinguished career as an academic at the University of Liverpool, where he remains an emeritus professor. He sits as a crossbench peer and is currently the only vet represented in parliament.

He was president of the RCVS in 2009/10 and also currently serves as chair of the board of the Moredun Research...

Categories: Journal news

Vets have a duty to wildlife, says chief vet Voas

4 April 2019

All vets should consider themselves as responsible for wildlife, in the same way they show responsibility for pets and livestock species, Scotland’s chief vet has said.

Sheila Voas, who attended the Wild Animal Welfare Committee conference in Edinburgh last week, stressed that animals living in the wild are impacted upon by human actions – even though they might not traditionally have been considered as being ‘under the care’ of vets.

Voas told Vet Record: ‘Vets have a role to play in wild animal welfare in advising their farm clients. We have to acknowledge that everything we do has an impact on wild animals and we can’t just completely disassociate ourselves.’

Because vets are trained to analyse and assess the evidence, they can bring value to often fraught debates over the welfare of wild animals through being able to ‘own the middle ground,’ she said.

Voas also noted that vets...

Categories: Journal news

New research sheds light on blindness in border collies

4 April 2019

Georgina Mills discusses a study that has discovered a genetic mutation linked to a severe eye condition

Categories: Journal news

In brief

4 April 2019
APHA improves its carcase collection service

The APHA has increased the number of haulage companies that will collect livestock carcases from farms free of charge for disease investigation from seven hauliers to 29.

The new haulier contracts came into place on 1 April, and the increase in providers means that carcases can be collected more quickly from farms for delivery to APHA postmortem examination (PME) laboratories.

APHA undertakes PMEs and sample testing at its six Veterinary Investigation Centres (VICs), or through its partner PME providers, with the aim of detecting new or re-emerging animal disease threats and identifying changes in endemic disease trends.

The APHA-funded carcase collection service is available in England and Wales to farms more than one hour’s drive from either an APHA VIC or one of its PME providers, and is provided when disease is suspected and PME of the carcase may be of surveillance value.

Categories: Journal news

Disease surveillance in England and Wales, March 2019

4 April 2019

APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Lymphoma in a dairy cow

  • Campylobacter abortion in ewes

  • Coccidiosis in preweaned piglets

  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum in gamebirds

  • Current and emerging issuesRecrudescence of vesicular disease due to senecavirus A in pigs in Brazil

    The US Swine Health Information Center recently described the re-emergence of vesicular disease associated with senecavirus A (SVA) in pigs in Brazil. The disease was clinically indistinguishable from notifiable vesicular diseases.

    In 2014/15, multiple pig herds in Brazil were affected by SVA, as were herds in the USA from July 2015. An information note was produced at the time, and is available at

    In the current re-emergence, lesions, particularly on the feet, appear more severe and are taking longer to fully resolve. Whether these new outbreaks in Brazil reflect a change in the virus, or in herd immunity, is being investigated.

    The vesicular manifestation of...

    Categories: Journal news

    Health issues in breeding gamebirds

    4 April 2019

    This focus article has been prepared by David Welchman, veterinary lead of the APHA Avian Expert Group, and Anna Brzozowska of the APHA Surveillance Intelligence Unit.

    Categories: Journal news

    Could canine visceral leishmaniosis take hold in the UK?

    4 April 2019

    Canine visceral leishmaniosis (CVL) is a life-threatening outcome of infection with Leishmania infantum, a protozoan parasite that is found throughout the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East, Latin America and some parts of Asia.1 Reviews of veterinary records have indicated a CVL prevalence of between 0.007 and 0.04 per cent in the UK. The majority of cases have been reported in southern England, with all affected dogs having spent at least several months in endemic countries such as Spain.2,3

    Leishmania is typically transmitted during the blood meal of infected sand flies. However, sand flies are not found in the UK. In the absence of sand flies, alternative routes of transmission such as vertical, venereal and receipt of infected blood transfusions have been demonstrated (Fig 1).4-7 Additionally, it has been speculated that direct dog-to-dog transmission through bites or wounds...

    Categories: Journal news

    Leishmaniosis in a dog with no travel history outside of the UK

    4 April 2019

    A 3-year-old male neutered Shih Tzu cross was presented for investigation of a three-week history of weight loss, seborrhoea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Initial clinicopathological findings included pancytopenia, mild hypercalcaemia and marked hyperglobulinaemia. Subsequent bone marrow and skin biopsies revealed the presence of Leishmania amastigotes. Quantitative serology was positive for Leishmania species and PCR on the bone marrow sample confirmed a Leishmania infantum infection. The patient had been in the owner’s possession since a puppy, had no travel history outside of the UK and had never received a blood transfusion or been used for breeding. However, another dog in the household that had been imported from Spain had been euthanased six months previously due to severe leishmaniosis. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported case of canine leishmaniosis in the UK without a history of travel to an endemic area, and most likely represents a case of dog-to-dog transmission.

    Categories: Journal news

    Occurrence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae in raw meat-based diets for dogs

    4 April 2019

    The practice of feeding raw meat-based diets (RMBD) to dogs has increased in popularity in recent years. However, RMBD are based on offal that has not undergone any type of treatment to reduce the microbial content, so there is a risk of potential pathogenic microorganisms being present. Frozen samples from 60 RMBD packs produced by 10 different manufacturers were analysed for their content of bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae, for Clostridium perfringens and for the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. Enterobacteriaceae were detected in all 60 samples and in 31 samples exceeded a level of 5000 bacteria/g, which is the threshold for satisfactory microbial hygiene according to EU regulations. In two samples, the amount of C. perfringens exceeded 5000 bacteria/g, which is the maximum level of anaerobic bacteria permitted by Swedish national guidelines. Salmonella species were found in four (7 per cent) and Campylobacter species in three (5 per cent) samples. These results show that it is critical to maintain good hygiene when storing, handling and feeding RMBD, in order to limit the potential health risks to animals and humans, especially young and immunocompromised individuals.

    Categories: Journal news

    Use of atracurium and its reversal with neostigmine in 14 pet rabbits undergoing ophthalmic surgery: a retrospective study

    4 April 2019

    The objective of this retrospective study was to report the clinical use of atracurium and its reversal with neostigmine in pet rabbits. The medical records of 14 rabbits undergoing anaesthesia for ophthalmic surgery were located through a search of the hospital’s database. Demographic data and data pertaining to the use of the neuromuscular blocker and its reversal were analysed. After intravenous administration of 0.44±0.4 mg/kg atracurium (total dose), 11 rabbits experienced at least one of the following cardiovascular responses: hypotension, defined as systolic arterial pressure less than 75 mmHg (n=6), hypotension with decreased heart rate (HR) (n=1), hypotension with increased HR (n=1), decreased arterial blood pressure (ABP) without hypotension (n=6), decreased ABP with decreased HR (n=1), or increased HR (n=2, ABP reading could not be taken). Two of these 11 rabbits also experienced severe intraoperative hypothermia. The neuromuscular block was monitored with a train-of-four nerve-stimulation pattern, and reversed, with intramuscular 0.01–0.045 mg/kg neostigmine and 0.01–0.02 mg/kg glycopyrronium, after the return of at least two out of four muscular twitches following nerve stimulation. Decrease in ABP and possibly hypothermia are likely intraoperative complications when clinical doses of atracurium are administered to pet rabbits. Measures should be taken to detect their occurrence in order to treat them promptly.

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    4 April 2019
    tramadol is not an effective analgesic in chinchillas

    E. Evenson, C. Mans

    Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine (2019) 28, 98–104

    doi: 10.1053/j.jepm.2018.01.003

    • What did the research find?

    Tramadol had no significant analgesic effect at any dose tested in this study. A significant reduction in food intake and faecal output occurred in a dose-dependent manner when tramadol was administered at 20 and 40 mg/kg, but this was self-limiting and transient. No other adverse effects were observed.

    • How was it conducted?

    Twelve adult chinchillas received a subcutaneous injection of either tramadol at 10, 20 or 40 mg/kg or saline at 0.4 ml/kg. Thermal antinociceptive efficacy was determined by measuring hindlimb withdrawal latencies at 0, one, two, four and eight hours after drug administration. Bodyweight, daily food intake and faecal output were measured the day before treatment and for six days after. The animals were also monitored for other adverse...

    Categories: Journal news

    Badger culling and the Bern Convention

    4 April 2019

    The Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Bern, 1979 (the Bern Convention), was adopted by the UK in December 1982. The European badger (Meles meles) is not listed in Appendix ll as a species requiring strict protection but appears in Appendix lll as requiring protection. Activities capable of causing local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, populations of badgers are prohibited. The animal is well protected under English law, most recently the Protection of Badgers Act (1992).

    Article 9 of the Bern Convention allows exceptions ‘to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, water and other forms of property’

    However, Article 9 of the Bern Convention allows exceptions ‘to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, water and other forms of property’; ‘in the interests of public health’ and ‘overriding public interest’ provided that there is ‘no other satisfactory...

    Categories: Journal news

    Vets and organic farming

    4 April 2019

    I welcome the discussion on the relationship between vets and organic farming, but would like to comment on some remarks in Josh Loeb’s editorial (VR, 23 March 2019, vol 184, p 361).

    He states that ‘organic farming can impinge on veterinary decision making’. The Soil Association vaccine standards are used as an example, apparently restricting the use of clostridial vaccines in sheep. The current standards are as follows:1


    You may only use vaccines:

    • in consultation with your vet, and

    • when there is a known disease risk which you cannot control by other means, either on your farm or on your neighbour’s land.

    I cannot see an impingement here – if the vet states in the health plan that ewes and lambs are at risk from clostridial diseases an effective vaccine can be used (and is used on many organic farms).

    There is a similar...

    Categories: Journal news

    Death notices

    4 April 2019

    Carlson On 26 March 2019, René Carlson, DVM, of Wisconsin, USA. Past-president of the World Veterinary Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr Carlson qualified from the University of Minnesota in 1978.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l1535

    Ranger On 26 March 2019, Michael John Ranger, MRCVS, of Swanage, Dorset. Mr Ranger qualified from London in 1956.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l1529

    Categories: Journal news

    Badger culling

    4 April 2019

    At a recent NFU conference, Michael Gove reiterated the Godfray claim that badger culls will reduce cattle TB by 15 per cent. No doubt government response to Godfray will shortly reaffirm this. But badger cull perturbation increasing bovine TB (bTB) is pure fantasy.

    George Eustice and Christine Middlemiss are also still claiming the full four-year pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset halved cases of bTB. But with just 3565 badgers removed, perhaps 400 with bTB and possibly only a dozen superexcretors, from around 300 km2 this sounds unlikely.

    Neil Parish and the EFRA Committee asked Tony Juniper, the new chair of Natural England, if he would continue with culls. While preferring The Wildlife Trusts’ vaccination policy, he said he would implement licencing culls if so instructed by Gove. However, a check on the science was needed. If the Godfray report is given as evidence it will be back to...

    Categories: Journal news

    Portable digital microscope proves a hit with mobile vet team

    4 April 2019

    Elliott Simpson – a vet at Westover Vets in Norfolk – trialled the portable ioLight microscope to find out how it compares to laboratory-based equivalents.

    Categories: Journal news

    The future and the vet profession

    4 April 2019

    One of the biggest challenges facing the veterinary profession is being able to provide affordable health care while better rewarding those that provide that care. Here, Lord Trees argues that delegation of responsibilities and embracing technology are two solutions to this problem.

    Categories: Journal news

    Waistel Gordon Gerrand

    4 April 2019

    He spent his professional life working for the state veterinary service, through which he developed a special interest in food hygiene. In later years, he was assistant chief veterinary officer for Scotland.

    Categories: Journal news