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Home monitoring of heart rate and heart rhythm with a smartphone-based ECG in dogs

17 January 2019

The feasibility of the home monitoring of heart rate (HR) and rhythm through ECG tracings recorded by owners with a smartphone ECG device was evaluated in dogs. Smartphone ECG tracings were recorded by owners at home using a single-lead ECG device and sent via email for interpretation. A questionnaire was prepared to assess the owner’s opinion regarding this home monitoring service. Recordings were evaluated by two operators, and agreement was evaluated for HR and rhythm diagnosis. Thirty-three dogs were included. Thirty-one owners (94 per cent) felt that the recording technique was easy to learn and that the smartphone ECG device was easy to use. A total of 15 owners (45 per cent) required a second person to hold the dog during recording. Of the 150 smartphone ECG tracings that were received, 134 (89 per cent) were interpretable. The median difference between the two operators to assess the mean HR on the smartphone tracings was 10 bpm (–10, +25 bpm). Perfect agreement (=1) between operators was observed in the heart rhythm evaluation. Most owners sent adequate ECG tracings for interpretation via email from their smartphone. Home monitoring of HR and heart rhythm may represent an additional tool in the management of dogs with arrhythmias.

Categories: Journal news

Rapid recontamination of a farm building occurs after attempted prion removal

17 January 2019

The transmissible spongiform encephalopathy scrapie of sheep/goats and chronic wasting disease of cervids are associated with environmental reservoirs of infectivity. Preventing environmental prions acting as a source of infectivity to healthy animals is of major concern to farms that have had outbreaks of scrapie and also to the health management of wild and farmed cervids. Here, an efficient scrapie decontamination protocol was applied to a farm with high levels of environmental contamination with the scrapie agent. Post-decontamination, no prion material was detected within samples taken from the farm buildings as determined using a sensitive in vitro replication assay (sPMCA). A bioassay consisting of 25 newborn lambs of highly susceptible prion protein genotype VRQ/VRQ introduced into this decontaminated barn was carried out in addition to sampling and analysis of dust samples that were collected during the bioassay. Twenty-four of the animals examined by immunohistochemical analysis of lymphatic tissues were scrapie-positive during the bioassay, samples of dust collected within the barn were positive by month 3. The data illustrates the difficulty in decontaminating farm buildings from scrapie, and demonstrates the likely contribution of farm dust to the recontamination of these environments to levels that are capable of causing disease.

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Selected highlights from other journals

17 January 2019
Feed particle size affects the growth and intestinal morphology of chickens

W. Lang, P. Hong, R. Li and others

Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition (2018)

doi: 10.1111/jpn.13046

• What did the research find?

At 42 days of age, the feed conversion rate of pellet-fed (PF) chickens was higher than that of crumb-fed (CF) chickens, but bodyweight was lower in the PF chickens. The intestinal villi height was lower in the PF chickens than in the CF chickens, with evidence of damage at the villi tips. However, at 69 days of age, both the bodyweight and the intestinal villi height of the PF chickens were greater than those of the CF chickens.

• How was it conducted?

A total of 60 15-day-old female chickens were randomly assigned into two groups. The chickens were fed either pelleted feed with a particle size of approximately 1.2 mm or crumbled feed...

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Looking after interns and residents

17 January 2019

I was very interested by the comments in the ‘significance of findings’ section of the summary of research regarding Grit scores by Dominic Barfield and Sophie Adamantos (VR, 15 December 2018, vol 183, p 718).

Although it is positive to read that there may be a use for the Grit score to identify candidates who may require extra support, I found the suggestion that only the most resilient candidates are regarded as ‘successful’ as highly offensive. This highlights a huge attitude problem towards interns and residents in the world of specialist training.

I truly despair at the lack of pastoral care and concern for mental wellbeing across specialist training programmes

I myself am an intern and hope to pursue a residency programme in the future. But having spoken to interns and residents in several hospitals up and down the country, I truly despair at the lack of pastoral...

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Dominic Barfield and Sophie Adamantos respond

17 January 2019

We thank you for reaching out to us with your comments on our paper and we are sorry that you were upset by it. This was certainly not our intention. We have no argument that creating happy working environments will lead to happy employees and the best quality veterinary care for animals under our care. As outlined in our short communication,1 Grit is a marker that has been used in some areas to identify whether there are objective measures that can be used to determine success within some fields.

As the majority of university-based interns intend to apply for residency programmes at the end of their programme we used attainment of one of these as success in the context of this paper. In a previous paper we asked interns for their definition of a successful internship and the answer was overwhelmingly ‘obtaining a residency’.2 Neither...

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Veterinary certification for emergency slaughter of cattle

17 January 2019

I would like to remind veterinary surgeons that carcases from livestock that have been slaughtered outside of an approved slaughterhouse will only be accepted into an approved slaughterhouse for dressing if they meet the criteria for emergency slaughter and are accompanied by correct certification.

The Scottish Livestock Welfare Group (SLWG) is aware of recent incidents where carcases were presented for dressing without meeting the required criteria. Such incidents include cattle with chronic conditions and instances where bovids have been pithed during the slaughter process.

The British Cattle Veterinary Association guidance for veterinary surgeons on the emergency slaughter of cattle explains clearly what the requirements and responsibilities of a veterinary surgeon are when certifying the emergency slaughter of cattle. One of the conditions for emergency slaughter is: ‘An otherwise healthy animal must have suffered an accident that prevented its transport to the slaughterhouse for welfare reasons.’

Incorrect certification will result...

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Florida clade 1 equine influenza virus in France

17 January 2019

Preliminary results from a large scale seroepidemiological study we conducted in 2018, involving 3000 French horses, reveals that equine influenza vaccination is well established, with 90 per cent of the studied population possessing antibody titres above the protection threshold against clinical signs of disease and 60 per cent virus shedding.1

The predominant use in France of the recombinant canarypox virus equine influenza vaccine ProteqFlu-Te (Boehringer Ingelheim/Merial), the only fully updated equine influenza vaccine licensed in the EU with DIVA (differentiating infected from vaccinated animal) capability, allowed us to confirm that the measured equine influenza immunological status was mostly attributed to equine influenza vaccination, with little immunological evidence of equine influenza virus (EIV) circulation. A fact strongly supported by the Network for Epidemio-Surveillance of Equine Diseases in France (RESPE), a group of more than 780 veterinary practitioners from all over the country. Probably due to such high vaccine...

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Tackling unwanted behaviours in rabbits

17 January 2019

Reviewed by vet nurse Claire Speight, rabbit welfarist and editor of Rabbiting On.

Categories: Journal news

Updated, revised and expanded pocketbook for vets

17 January 2019

As a vet student, access to quick answers and handy medical information is invaluable and, for any vet with a busy schedule, having information to hand is a lifesaver.

Sheldon Middleton’s updated ‘BSAVA Pocketbook for Vets’ is the perfect companion for both students on extramural studies placements and qualified vets.

What really stands out in this new edition is the fantastic use of figures and diagrams to illustrate clinical procedures, rather than having to read through lists of instructions. These are especially helpful for visual learners. Additionally, the use of flow charts for clinical reasoning and diagnostic work-ups allow the user to think through cases themselves and help to establish a logical thought process that is fundamental to practice.

The pocketbook is organised alphabetically, which offers fast access when you know what you are looking for. However, if you are trying to find related topics, the lack of subject...

Categories: Journal news

Reliability of equine visual lameness classification as a function of expertise, lameness severity and rater confidence

11 January 2019

Visual equine lameness assessment is often unreliable, yet the full understanding of this issue is missing. Here, we investigate visual lameness assessment using near-realistic, three-dimensional horse animations presenting with 0–60 per cent movement asymmetry. Animations were scored at an equine veterinary seminar by attendees with various expertise levels. Results showed that years of experience and exposure to a low, medium or high case load had no significant effect on correct assessment of lame (P>0.149) or sound horses (P≥0.412), with the exception of a significant effect of case load exposure on forelimb lameness assessment at 60 per cent asymmetry (P=0.014). The correct classification of sound horses as sound was significantly (P<0.001) higher for forelimb (average 72 per cent correct) than for hindlimb lameness assessment (average 28 per cent correct): participants often saw hindlimb lameness where there was none. For subtle lameness, errors often resulted from not noticing forelimb lameness and from classifying the incorrect limb as lame for hindlimb lameness. Diagnostic accuracy was at or below chance level for some metrics. Rater confidence was not associated with performance. Visual gait assessment may overall be unlikely to reliably differentiate between sound and mildly lame horses irrespective of an assessor’s background.

Categories: Journal news

Effects of restrictive and non-restrictive harnesses on shoulder extension in dogs at walk and trot

11 January 2019

The study aimed to compare the effect of restrictive and non-restrictive harnesses on shoulder extension of dogs at walk and trot. This was a prospective study of nine dogs. Dogs were walked and trotted on a treadmill at a comfortable walking and trotting speed, first with no harness, then with each harness type, with and without added weights. Dogs were filmed and the angle of shoulder extension was measured using non-reflective markers and a video analysis software. Significant decrease in shoulder extension was found with both types of harnesses in comparison with no harness, except for the restrictive harness with weights. Shoulder extension was 2.6° and 4.4° less in dogs wearing a non-restrictive harness than in dogs wearing a restrictive harness, at walk and trot, respectively. The addition of weights did not consistently add more restriction to shoulder extension. The results of this study indicate that harnesses do limit shoulder extension, but perhaps not in the way originally anticipated, as results show extension is significantly reduced under the non-restrictive harnesses compared with the restrictive harnesses, with and without weights.

Categories: Journal news

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in pooled faeces and dust from the housing environment of herds infected with Johnes disease

11 January 2019

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne’s disease (JD) in ruminants characterised by a long incubation period where infected animals progressively excrete MAP in their faeces with some animals, ‘super shedders’, dispersing large quantities of the organism into their environment where it can survive for long periods.1 2 Control programmes for the disease primarily focus on the early detection and removal of shedding animals from herds, appropriate calf management practices, good herd biosecurity and hygiene practices together with measures preventing spread of infection within or between herds.3 Environmental contamination with MAP and its role as a source of infection is well recognised.4–6 More recently concerns have been raised that MAP persisting in dust in cow barns and in areas from which it is difficult to remove7 may become airborne and a...

Categories: Journal news

Selected highlights from other journals

11 January 2019
Serum cobalamin and folate are prognostic for canine exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

N. Soetarta, D. Rochela, A. Drut and others

The Veterinary Journal (2019) 243, 15–20

doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.11.003

• What did the research find?

A strong breed disposition for canine exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) was observed, with German shepherd dogs accounting for nearly 48 per cent of the cases included in this study. The prognosis for EPI was found to be poorer in male dogs, older dogs, dogs with dysorexia and/or hypocobalaminaemia at diagnosis and dogs that did not receive enzyme supplementation therapy. Conversely, the prognosis was improved for dogs with high serum folate concentration at diagnosis.

• How was it conducted?

The medical records of 299 dogs with an initial diagnosis of EPI were retrospectively reviewed. The data extracted included breed, age, weight, serum cobalamin and folate results and details of the initial treatment provided. Follow-up was carried out...

Categories: Journal news

Bovine TB strategy

11 January 2019

Few people read the laborious, reliable, scrutinised, published research on bovine TB (bTB). Government-appointed reviews have a much wider readership and are studied by politicians formulating national policy and media personnel who influence it. However, there is the danger of snippets of this published work being circulated by ‘Chinese whisper’ sound bites, and the original truth being lost. Many will accept the report to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Bovine TB Strategy Review (BTBSR) October 20181– as a benchmark compilation of current knowledge, rendering study of earlier publications unnecessary.

However, chapter 6 of the report – The disease in wildlife – contains the following, I believe, questionable material.

Paragraph 6.3: ‘Reactive culling appeared to increase the number of confirmed (officially TB-free status withdrawn [OTFW]) breakdowns though its precise interpretation is still debated.’ This sentence refers to the Randomised Badger Culling...

Categories: Journal news

Supporting research on humane slaughter

11 January 2019

I read with interest Josh Loeb’s feature ‘Pre-slaughter stunning: what’s on the horizon?’ (VR, 15 December 2018, vol 183, pp 710-711). I noted the comment by BVA senior vice president John Fishwick that the BVA would ‘absolutely support any research on improving more welfare-friendly methods of stunning’ and would like to draw readers’ attention to the Humane Slaughter Association’s (HSA) activities in doing precisely this.

Several of the research projects mentioned in the article have been supported by the HSA. The Glasgow research on low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) for pigs follows an HSA LAPS workshop in 2013 and an HSA workshop on controlled atmosphere stunning in 2017, and is jointly funded by Defra and the HSA. The HSA also funded the Bristol research on single pulse ultra-high current (SPUC) head-only stunning of cattle, a technique that has the potential to be compliant with Halal slaughter requirements and may...

Categories: Journal news

Death notices

11 January 2019

Hannell On 24 December 2018, William Henderson Hannell, BVMS, MRCVS, of Ferndown, Dorset. Dr Hannell qualified from Glasgow in 1967.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l10

Mojay-Sinclare On 8 December 2018, Heike Vivienne Mojay-Sinclare, BVetMed, MRCVS, of Knebworth, Hertfordshire. Dr Mojay-Sinclare qualified from London in 2012.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l116

Categories: Journal news

Importing rescue dogs from abroad

11 January 2019

In an article in Vet Record (24 November 2018, vol 183, p 615) titled ‘Why are we adopting so many dogs from abroad?’, Josh Loeb reported on statements that I had made regarding the importation of overseas rescue dogs. These comments were made during a debate about importing dogs at the British Veterinary Nursing Association’s congress in October 2018, as the article states.

It is possible that the article may have given the impression that the quotes attributed to me were my personal views and that I am against the practice of importing dogs from abroad. For the debate I was asked to give a hypothetical ‘against’ argument and facilitate audience debate on the subject, alongside Julian Kupfer who outlined the ‘for’ argument. Some of the points made in the article focused on my research findings, a survey of adopters of overseas rescue dogs, which I am currently preparing...

Categories: Journal news

Salmon farming

11 January 2019

I feel obliged to respond to the letter from Ronnie Soutar extolling the virtues of a job in the ever-expanding salmon farming industry (VR, 22/29 December 2018, vol 183, p 751), pointing out that the accompanying idyllic photo of a Scottish sea loch does not reveal the mountain of sewage on the dead sea bed under those cages, where I fear the water is very far from ‘lovely’.

There is now a large body of evidence that salmon farming is an environmental and animal welfare disaster. How long can we as a profession ignore this?

A Scottish parliamentary report1 looked at the issues – including mass die-offs, organic waste, and medical/chemical use – and concluded in March 2018: ‘If the current issues are not addressed this expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.’

Categories: Journal news

Ronnie Soutar responds

11 January 2019

Salmon aquaculture, like many forms of livestock farming, has its problems and its detractors. Vets inside the industry are well placed to address the issues raised in the parliamentary report and elsewhere, and to act to reduce negative environmental impacts and positively influence the welfare of farmed fish.

Discussion and debate on these issues is an important part of veterinary involvement but we should base that on science and avoid hyperbole. I have seen no evidence of sewage, which is human waste, below salmon farms.

Categories: Journal news

Intelligence of our veterinary patients

11 January 2019

Research from the University of Sussex informs me that horses prefer happy vets.

When shown photos of people looking either angry or happy, there was little equine indecision.

Confronted later by the folks in the photos, there was no doubt about it, the horses responded more positively to the smilers.

Horses are bright and can work you out in moments – and boy can they play you!

Of all our veterinary patients, horses can be the most challenging. I’ve always thought it pays to ‘think beautiful thoughts’ when it comes to working with horses. They are bright and can work you out in moments. And boy, can they play you!

I remember one morning, I was with a small group of final-year students, watching as Martin, our equine surgery resident, gently trotted a bay mare in the equine barn at the University of Guelph. We were trying to...

Categories: Journal news