Tag Archives: badgers

Vet News

Vet NewsYour Vet News Editors have put aside their UCAS applications, shelved thoughts of their own interview preparation and turned their focus to bringing you some more great news, stories and interesting vet and animal-related content to get your metaphorical teeth into.

This month sees us look at subjects as varied as GM Cows, Leptospirosis in Sea Lions and Horse Neglect. As ever, enjoy and we hope you find the articles of interest.

 

FARMING:

Allergy-free milk produced by GM cow

Els de Vrijer (Farm Vet News Editor)

Milk cartonScientists in New Zealand have successfully produced a cow that has been genetically modified so that she produces milk which does not contain a protein to which some people are allergic. Around 3% of infants are allergic to the whey protein betalactoglobulin, or BLG. The symptoms are eczema, vomiting and diarrhoea, and often sufferers refrain from drinking cow’s milk.

Using a technique called RNA interference, the scientists successfully managed to inhibit the production of the protein. RNA interference, or RNAi, is a natural process that cells undergo to turn down the activity of specific genes. RNAi is triggered by an unusual kind of double stranded RNA, which destroys molecular messengers, mRNA, that carry information coded in genes to the protein-making centres of the cells. During their research, the scientists underwent the in vitro screening of 10 micro RNA’s in order to see how the knockdown of BLG could be achieved. They were successful in genetically modifying the cow using this technique, so that the double-stranded RNA which was added to the cell prevented the production of this BLG.

Although the calf, named “Daisy” was born without a tail, the researchers are certain that the technique is safe for the animal and that her lack of tail is purely a congenital defect. Normally, a cow would not start lactating until she is around 2 years of age, but in this case hormones were used to stimulate her lactation. Her milk had no detectable trace of the BLG protein. The scientists did notice, however, that levels of casein, another protein in the milk, almost doubled.

Whilst there are some obvious benefits of this milk, particularly to those who suffer from the allergy, there are several unknowns. We do not know what milk yield these cows will have, and whether the protein will be absent in the milk for the duration of the cow’s lifetime. Equally, whether it will be viable for farmers is another question; there is such pressure on dairy farming as it is, an expensive technology may not be worth the effort for many. Lastly, there are also ethical concerns, as the milk stems from a genetically modified organism. Ironically, this also leads to the issue of whether the milk will be safe to be consumed legally. Under the GM legislation that is currently in place in New Zealand, the consumption of this type of milk would be illegal.

References:

www.bbc.co.uk

www.fwi.co.uk

www.medicalnewstoday.co.uk

www.pnas.org (Targeted microRNA expression in dairy cattle directs production of b-lactoglobulin-free, high-casein milk. Anower JabedStefan WagnerJudi McCrackenDavid N. Wells and Goetz Laible)

www.nigms.nih.gov/news/extras/rnaifactsheet

 

Live exports from Ramsgate resume

Emma Plowright (Farm Vet News Editor)

Sheep in transport lorryLast month, live exports were suspended from Ramsgate port following incidents which resulted in the death of 47 sheep. After the council’s decision to impose the ban was overruled by high court injunction, a councillor has described live animal export as “disgusting” and “indefensible.”

The ban was put in place by Thanet council in September when sheep died in two separate incidents.  When one lorry was stopped, vets and RSPCA officers found that forty-two sheep were lame, one was seriously ill and one had a broken leg and none could access their drinkers. The port also lacked the proper facilities for the animals – In another case, two sheep were drowned when the floor of a temporary holding pen collapsed.

The environment minister, David heath, stated that he believed the incidents were “absolutely unacceptable” and that review into the events has been launched. The chief executive of the National Sheep Association also said that the incident “could have been avoided if regulations and controls, which are effective in the majority of cases, were followed”.

Ipswich port briefly took over Ramsgate’s exports, only to suspend them as they too lacked to necessary facilities.

Thanet council had stated that they would lift the ban when the required facilities were built but following an appeal by three Dutch companies, exports have already resumed from the port. It is anticipated that Thanet district council will appeal against this decision.  Animal rights protesters have also staged demonstrations at the port to show their opposition.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20001447

http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/live-exports-suspended-after-45-sheep-deaths-at-ramsgate/49739.article

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20083593

http://mrcvsonline.com/en/news-story.php?id=7761

 

Culling Postponed

Hannah Johnstone (Farm Vet News Editor)

Badgers and TBBovine Tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. It is thought that the increasing prevalence in cattle is to be blamed on badgers transmitting the disease. The disease can take years to develop and there are few clinical signs e.g. lumps on the body, luckily it is unlikely that the whole herd will become infected. Cattle that are infected have to be slaughtered, in 2009, 25,000 were slaughtered; costing taxpayers £63 million, bovine TB is an expensive problem.

The government set up Randomised Badger Culling Trial for 9 years beginning 1998, the trials proved that culling badgers within affected areas saw a 16% decrease in cattle affected with TB. This then led to the decision to undergo science-led culls in the most affected areas particularly in the West and South-West, the plan was to eradicate 70% of badgers. Huge controversy was caused by the proposed plans to cull. Animal welfare groups set up an e petition so far gaining 160,000 signatures, in the hope for a debate in the House of Commons.

Recently this year in October 2012, the culls were announced to be postponed until summer 2013 as the ‘70% target cannot be met’ due to time, cost and also the recent hosting of the Olympics and Paralympics. This caused anger amongst farmers in TB endemic areas, but was a delight for animal welfare campaigners. It is said that there will be no change in the policy as there is still scientific reasoning for the culling to go ahead. It has been quoted by BVA president Peter Jones that ‘Scientists agree that culling badgers does reduce the levels of infection in cattle herds, and we know that no country has dealt with bovine TB without tackling the disease in wildlife.’ For example New Zealand had a similar TB issues with regards to the common bushtail possum.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant strongly disagrees with the culling and hopes that the postponement ‘marks an end to all cull plans’, he insists that ‘this is good news for badgers, cows, dairy farmers and animal lovers alike. Hopefully it marks the beginning of the end for these unscientific, foolish and cruel plans to cull badgers.’ On the other hand farmers are outraged by the recent news, although ‘the government is still committed to the policy’. One ‘angry dairy farmer, frustrated by bTB’ Phil Latham argues ‘That’ll be more diseased badgers, more cows with TB, more farming businesses/families/staff affected. Bigger problem! Is this good?’ Rob Wilcox also a dairy farmer added ‘The badger cull is being postponed; we’ll just keep culling cows instead then.’

The responses to the culling have caused yet again huge controversy in the farming world and within the animal welfare groups. There has been huge speculation about the cost of the culling and the bad news that this will bring for taxpayers. The question is, will this cause for further research in alternatives for eradicating TB e.g. vaccination for cattle and badgers, or will the culling carry on as planned?

References:

http://www.mrcvs.co.uk/en/news-story.php?id=8016

http://www.farmersguardian.com/badger-cull-delay-a-severe-blow-to-farmers-and-vets/50727.article

http://www.bva.co.uk/activity_and_advice/Tuberculosis_overview.aspx

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7057066.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20039697

 

 

Leptospirosis in Sea Lions

Georgie Holiday (Farm Vet News Editor)

Sea Lions, mother & pupLeptospirosis is the world’s most common zoonotic disease, spreading to humans when they come into contact with water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. The disease can affect a huge range of species, including dogs, mice, cows, sheep, rabbits and many more, but over the past several years it has been spreading throughout wild sea lion populations, causing irreversible kidney damage.

Spiral-shaped bacteria called Leptospira cause the disease and remain alive as longs as they stay moist, which is why they are so easily spread in urine. The disease was first documented in sea lions in the early 1970s, although it has become a major cause of death throughout the 2000s, with repeated epidemics occurring every few years.

Sea lions are often diagnosed with leptospirosis without any lab work. Because they are marine mammals, they rarely need to drink water- they get plenty of moisture from their food sources- but sea lions infected with Leptospirosis are usually observed drinking large amounts of water, and sometimes even sucking on sand to get as much water as they can out of it. This is because the Leptospira bacteria has infected their kidneys, making them unable to filter toxins and regulate their hydration, causing them to seek other ways to get water into their body.

In rare cases, when the disease is caught early enough, Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics. Usually, however, it is fatal- it causes renal failure, which eventually leads to death.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospirosis

http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/science/top-research-projects/leptospirosis.html

 

EQUINE:

Increase in case of horse neglect & abandonment

Pippa Lyon (Vet News Equine Editor)

Horse gallopingThe amount of horses being abandoned neglected or abused is on the rise with around 6000 horses at risk this winter. The number of horses in rescue centres has been increasing rapidly over the last 5 years and with all the centres full something needs to be done.

The RSPCA have released a crisis report seeking help from the government and public. The main causes for the increase are overbreeding and the current economic climate.

Irresponsible dealers are at the heart of the problem when it comes to the UK horse population, they are constantly breeding, buying and importing horses that no one wants to buy right now. They end up at markets where they can either end up sold at ridiculously low prices like £5 in homes that do not look after them, or sold to abattoirs as meat to be exported into Europe.

Horses are expensive animals to look after and require a lot of commitment, when the credit crunch hit many people were forced to cut back on veterinary costs, shelter and feed and some even chose to abandon their horses.  Its cases like this when they end up at equine charities such as redwings or RSPCA, Unfortunately they no longer have enough space to take in everyone.

Government agencies and equine charities are working together to improve laws and enforcement of horse movement and dealership in order to control the reckless breeding of some horse dealers.

Meanwhile, the charities believe that the public can play an important role in tackling the growing equine population by not breeding from their own horse and taking responsibility for their animals. The World Horse Welfare Society is urging members of the public to offer a home to a horse if suitable whether it is riding horse or a non-ridden companion.

References:

MRCVS online (horse crisis report published) http://www.mrcvs.co.uk/en/news-story.php?id=7973

RSPCA report (The approaching equine crisis in England and wales) http://www.rspca.org.uk/ImageLocator/LocateAsset?asset=document&assetId=1232730977252&mode=prd

 

SMALL ANIMAL:

The Cost of Animal Disease – A quick summary of the IFAH report

Ilakiya Guruswamy (Vet News Small Animal Editor)

DollarThe International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) has released a white paper entitled The Costs of Animal Disease. It highlights the socio-economic impacts of animal diseases that go much beyond the direct costs of the diseases themselves.

‘Human health and animal health are inextricable linked.’ The report highlights the recent outbreaks of swine flu, foot and mouth in cattle, and bird flu, and uses these as examples of the wide impact animal diseases can have on both the animal and human population.  As 61% of animal diseases are zoonotic, there is potential for many more pandemics.

However there has been much success with animal health control systems, and with private and public effort. The Rinderpest Virus has been eradicated (the second viral disease to be wiped out by humans – after Smallpox), foot and mouth and swine flu has been suppressed, and there is better control of avian diseases, such as Newcastle and IBD.

Having reached a point where many animal diseases are under control, it would be a mistake to conclude that further investments in disease monitoring and impact assessment is not needed. The costs of the diseases change as society evolves, and it is important to monitor these changes to be able to respond to outbreaks in a timely and proportionate manner.

The report illustrates the economic and social costs of animal diseases by examining:

  • A purely animal disease – foot and mouth disease
  • A disease that affects both animals and humans – rabies
  • A disease that affects animals and humans and can be spread through food – salmonellosis.

 

DIRECT LOSSES

  • Visible losses. This includes animal deaths and illness or stunting that results from disease or subsequent control methods.
  • Invisible losses. This includes less immediate impacts of animal disease such as reduced fertility or changes in herd which result in the need to have a higher proportion of animals in a breeding group rather than production.

INDIRECT LOSSES

  • Mitigation and control costs. This includes the costs of drugs, vaccines, surveillance and labour needed to carry out control measures.
  • Human health impacts. This includes the costs that arise when animal diseases affect human populations such as treatment costs and losses in productivity due to illness or death.
  • Foregone revenues. This includes the indirect economic impacts of animal diseases resulting from curtailed market access, losses in consumer confidence, and knock-on effects on other sectors of the economy.

 

As with human diseases, there are difficulties in estimating the costs of animal disease globally as livestock product prices and productivity, and the costs of resources used for disease monitoring and control vary widely across countries and even across different regions within a country. Human health has partly navigated this problem by developing a unit known as a disability adjusted life year (DALY) which relates to the number of years of normal life lost either through early death or reduced ability to lead a normal life through being ill. No equivalent unit has been developed for livestock and there is a split of opinion about the need for such a unit. Economists would argue that, because animals are kept largely for production, costs of disease can be valued and priced through the market. On the other hand, veterinarians often feel that this is inadequate and that units need to be developed that both capture all impacts of disease and can overcome the challenges of disease impact assessment.

References:

http://www.mrcvs.co.uk/en/news-story.php?id=7998

http://www.ifahsec.org/ifah-white-paper-underlines-the-economic-and-social-costs-of-animal-health-diseases/

http://www.ifahsec.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Oxford-Analytica-The-Costs-of-Animal-Disease_October2012.pdf

Vet News – Badgers, Cushings & Low Carbon Farming

Vet NewsAnother month has passed and with the stressful task of finalising personal statements for the October 15th UCAS deadline for veterinary courses, our editors would have been forgiven for not finding the time in their hectic schedules to bring you their articles. However, it is testament to how committed they are that they pulled all the stops and so here, again, we have an installment of interesting vetty content for you exercise the grey matter on.

FARMING:

Pilot badger culls to go ahead

Emma Plowright (Vet News Farm Editor)

Badger, TBIt was recently announced that the Badger Trust has lost its appeal against DEFRA, meaning that the proposed culls will go ahead.

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease which affects cattle. Official estimates suggest that an outbreak of TB on a farm may cost the farmer £12,000 and the tax payer £22,000.

Lord Krebs, who carried out the research upon which the decision was based, has described the culls as ‘crazy’.  Krebs’ work suggested that the spread of TB could be slowed over a nine-year period if 70% of the badgers in an area were eradicated. He believes that if the numbers were less than this however, this would no longer be true. In fact, the disturbance to the badger population could lead to increased spread of the disease. He has stated that, without knowing badger population numbers, there can be no way of knowing if 70% have been eradicated.  The cull has also been opposed by many animal rights groups.

DEFRA says that it will use previous studies and will be carrying out its own research in order to estimate badger populations. It expects that, if the culls are successful, a 16% decrease in Tb incidence may be seen in the target areas over the next nine years. Farmers in the worst affected areas have said that, for them, this reduction would be significant. In other areas of England, the reduction may be around 5%. The culling will be funded by farmers themselves although it is expected that other costs will be involved, for example police time spent controlling protests. A DEFRA spokesperson also stated that ‘no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has eradicated the disease in cattle without tackling it in wildlife too.’

Culling will be carried out by trained individuals in specific areas and will be closely controlled. A number of criteria must be met before a license is granted. For a 6 week period, the culls will be independently monitored and if it is decided that they are effective and humane, the culling will continue for a further four years.

A badger vaccination program is currently in place in Wales. Many groups are calling for a similar strategy to be put in place in England as an alternative to culling.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19623931

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Pilot-cull-unacceptable-ndash-Defra-badger-expert/story-16871436-detail/story.html

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gqOA_Qun1ebaFP8AmVDi4zAR3vBA?docId=N0215891347875943180A

http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13692-bovinetb-guidance-ne.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-18440034

 

Lambs to reduce carbon footprints!

Hannah Johnstone (Vet News Farm Editor)

Planet Eart, Global WarmingAcross the UK the agricultural world has been set a target to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 11% (3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year) by the year of 2020. Low carbon farming can save money and increase income by responding to the needs of consumers. One sector needing to reduce carbon emissions is the sheep sector.

For most sheep farmers their goal is to produce more food to feed the ever growing population. Now they have an added extra to increase lamb production as well as reducing their emissions, they must improve their efficiency but at the same time ensure an increasing profit. The farmers are advised on how to reduce their carbon footprints by the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan with the help of EBLEX and DEFRA.

One example of a farmer trying to achieve this goal is Northumberland sheep farmer Duncan Nelless. His farm has 1,500 ewes, the farms carbon footprint is 8.3kg carbon dioxide per kg of lambs. Duncan’s farm’s carbon footprint is one of lowest when compared to the high of 15.3kg carbon dioxide per kg of lambs within the UK. The farms fast-finishing lambs mean they are able to create an efficient environment; lower the farms food cost and take advantage of early sheep markets.

Duncan Nelless’s farm-Thistleyhough has achieved a low carbon score by measuring their flock’s performance; they do this by the use of EIDs (electronic identification tag) to select their most efficient sheep.  In doing this they have been able to improve the finishing growth rate by more than 20%. Another key thing they have done is managing grazing of livestock; they use a 10 year rotation system, they believe their effective grassland management is proving to maximise the farm’s efficiency as it is acting as a carbon sink.

There are certain characteristics of a low carbon sheep unit some being that the ideal finishing weight is achieved as quickly and as early as possible, that the sheep are fed a high quality ration with high Metabolisable Energy density and also that reliance on purchase inputs is reduced where possible.

Low carbon farming is an aim for 2020; farming plays a huge part in greenhouse gas emission with a continuous growth of demand for products. Efficient and sustainable farming is going to be difficult to accomplish in order to meet the goals of the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan.

Reference:

http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/livestock-features/sheep-low-carbon-lamb-production/48828.article

 

EQUINE:

Equine Cushings Disease

Pippa Lyon (Vet News Equine Editor)

Equine Cushing’s disease or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction is the most common endocrine disorder in older horses. Because horses are now living longer Cushing’s is becoming more and more prevalent in horses today, with more that 15% of horses and ponies above 15 years being affected.

The disease occurs when an imbalance occurs in the hormones secreted from the pituitary gland which leads to an imbalance of other hormones in the body. These hormonal changes show as the clinical signs for the disease.

Although any breed of horse may develop Cushing’s disease, it is very common in horses that have reoccurring laminitis. I recent study shows that 80% of horses with laminitis may have Cushing’s disease.

The second most common symptom is Hirsutism, where the horse can grow a thick curly coat that does not completely shed in the summer.  The picture to the left shows an extreme case.

Other symptoms may include sweating, increased appetite and loss of condition. In some cases you can get abnormal fat distribution above they eye where normal horses would have a depression.

A blood test must be taken to diagnose Cushing’s disease which involves taking initial bloods, then injecting a steroid which will raise cortisol levels.  The next day, a second blood test is taken and if cortisol levels are still elevated, the horse is diagnosed with Cushing’s.

Unfortunately as of yet, there is no cure for Cushing’s disease, so treatment is based on controlling the symptoms although there is now medicine available to help normalise hormone secretion.

References:

Donaldson et al. “Evaluation of suspected pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in horses with laminitis”. JAVMA, Vol 224, No. 7, 1 April 2004

McGowan. “Diagnostic and Management Protocols for Equine Cushings Syndrome” In Practice, November/December 2003

Vet News – Your Monthly Digest

Vet NewsSo, what has caught the eyes of our intrepid veterinary reporters this month? They have taken time out from their hectic schedules of revision, exams and preparing applications for vet school to scour the veterinary press and bring you a bite-sized, easily digestible account of some of the interesting stories of interest to vets in June.

We like to think that you’re finding this feature helpful, interesting and also fun, so feel free to let us know here or on our Facebook page.

Right, over to our Vet News Editors, including a couple of new names to add to the growing roster of awesomeness that is the Vet News Editors team.

Your Editors:

Hannah Johnstone (FARM)

ElsdeVrijer_Vet News Farm EditorEls de Vrijer (FARM) – “Hi everyone, my name is Els, I’m 17 years old, and am hoping to apply for Vet School this September. I live in Norfolk and I’ve spent several weeks seeing large animal practice. It is definitely the most exciting but also challenging type of veterinary work, and certainly one which is constantly in the news. My favorite type of farm work is lambing, and the first lamb I ever brought to this world had the Schmallenberg virus, which was very eye-opening. I am a keen horse rider but also love walking my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, called ‘Mac’ on the beach.”
Emma Plowright (FARM)
Pippa Lyons, Vet News, Horse EditorPippa Lyon (HORSES) – “I’m 17 years of age and live in London. I own a horse, rescue dog and chickens. When I am not writing for Vet News I enjoy horse riding and listening to music.”
Georgie Holiday (ZOO & EXOTICS)

Ilakiya Guruswamy (CATS & DOGS) – “Just someone who after going through phases of wanting to be a crocodile, Eliza Thornberry, a member of the Bomb Disposal Unit, an X-(wo)man, and an alpaca farmer, has decided to try and pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine.”

Stories:

Badger culls in the West of England: will they go ahead?

Els de Vrijer (Vet News Editor, Farm)

badgerLast month, environment secretary Caroline Spelman stated she was still “reasonably confident” that the two proposed pilot badger culls, planned for this autumn, would still go ahead, despite legal action taken against the government’s plans by The Badger Trust. The government has introduced the scheme in an attempt to kick start the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in England. The pilot scheme will allow farmers in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset to cull any badgers crossing their land.

These plans have come under speculation following the failure of a similar scheme in Wales, where a planned cull in Pembrokeshire was withdrawn following widespread opposition from members of the public. Sadly there is still a constant battle between farmers and wildlife lovers all over the U.K; 2010 saw the forced slaughter of over 25,000 cattle – some carriers, but many “at risk” – clearly a devastating loss for many cattle farmers. Recently, there have been several anti-cull protests in West Gloucestershire, even with celebrities getting involved, such as Brian May, from the band “Queen”. He believes, like the Welsh government, that vaccination against bTB is a definite option, but others, like DEFRA, state that useable vaccines for the disease are “years away”. The Welsh government science advisor recently resigned after the Welsh government reversed their plans for the badger cull, as he felt he “wasn’t confident” that a vaccination programme would be successful.

There is no research yet which is extensive enough to provide a clear answer to the divided opinion about the management and treatment of bovine tuberculosis, but the government hopes that the pilot culls will give clear answers about the extent to which badgers are responsible for transmission of it. What is currently unknown is whether the judicial review of the environment secretary’s decision will lead to a halt to the plans, or whether thousands of farmers and the veterinary profession will finally get some answers to this very serious animal health issue.

 

Liver Fluke in Cattle

Emma Plowright (Vet News Editor, Farm)

CowLiver fluke is common in the UK but recent figures from the food standards agency have revealed a trend : the number of cases continues to rise year after year. Although this increase was just half a per cent between 2010 and 2011, the number is three times what it was in 2001.

Fasciola hepatica is the parasite responsible for the disease. In the liver of the host, it produces eggs which are passed out in the host’s faeces. These then hatch into larvae which infect a certain type snail and develop into cercaria. These leave the snail and move out on to the grass, where they remain. They are then easily ingested by grazing cattle and the cycle begins again. Infestation with fluke has many negative effects including loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, poor milk yield and greater susceptibility to other infection. As a result, the disease leads to decreased profits for farmers. If the number of cases continues to follow the same pattern, the effect on the farming industry will be even greater.

The wetter than average weather during April may have contributed to a recent increase in the number of snails, and therefore cases of the disease, but the figures clearly show a more general increase over the past 10 years.

Money over Welfare

Hannah Johnstone (Vet News Editor, Farm)

Everyone loves to win, but when farmers carry out udder gluing in a bid to win, people are beginning to question whether this is just taking things too far, after all farmers are supposed to have a duty of care with regard to their animals.

Udder gluing is when farmers pump gas into a cows udder before sealing with superglue, this supposedly creates a ‘full’ udder illusion as milk and gas is unable to escape. When showing cows at auction the full udder is now a well-known attribute and criteria that the cows must meet. A champion can fetch up to £100,000 meaning competition is growing at a ferocious rate however the welfare of animals is decreasing as a result. It is thought that the cows are being left in this state for up to 24 hours and it has been proven to cause severe pain and discomfort to these ‘prize’ cows. Government deputy chief vet, Alick Simmons stated: “This practice is totally unacceptable and has serious welfare implications for the animals. Farmers clearly have a duty of care for their animals but vets, too, need to make sure that they take action where they see this practice taking place.”

Due to numerous complaints the RSPCA are now involved with this growing issue and animals entered into auctions will now be checked over for any signs of artificial inflation. As well as the RSPCA the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are also involved and will be acting against any breaches of the new welfare laws, anyone proved guilty will be imprisoned for up to six months or fined up to £5,000 and banned from keeping animals. Although no one has yet been prosecuted The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmer (RABDF) implemented a rule banning the sealing of teats at a show in Birmingham last September.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Carl Padgett quoted: “in order to prevent the pumping it will require a change of mind set”, he also questioned “why cows have to show huge udders to be champions.” Carl Padgett is currently arranging meetings with breeders and show organisers in order to discuss the possibility of ultrasound scanning the cows entered into each show. Many different people and organisations are now recognising this as a “serious problem” as described by farm vet David Martin after a BVA conference.

Udder gluing is an issue that originated from America and previous attempts have been made to prevent it, this disturbing practice is on a growing increase and something needs to be done sooner rather than later to save animals suffering. It is a topic that has caused masses of controversy throughout the farming community.

 Bibliography:

http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/ruralfocus/9737884.Vets_condemn_udder_gluing/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9293216/Farmers-pumping-cows-udders-full-of-gas-and-gluing-them-up-to-win-prizes.html#

Laminitis

Pippa Lyon (Vet News Editor, Horses)

HorsesSummer has finally arrived, and the sunny weather combined with A LOT of rain has led to lush green grass growing in pasture all around Britain. This has triggered a sharp rise in the laminitis cases.

Laminitis is a painful disease which affects horses’ feet causing severe lameness and if left untreated can be fatal. Unfortunately, no one is sure on the cause of laminitis, but high intake of sugar and starch in grass, stress and obesity are all thought to be linked. There are two main types of laminitis in horses:

Acute laminitis
A horse may suddenly develop symptoms such as not being able to walk or stand up; they will be visibly lame and will commonly stand with the weight on the back feet to remove pressure from the front.

Chronic laminitis
This generally occurs when the horse has previously had the disease and is showing on-going symptoms. If left, it can cause the pedal bone to rotate in the hoof leading to permanent damage.

Both types of laminitis are considered serious and vets may bandage frog supports onto the hooves to reduce pressure as well as administering pain relief. In bad cases, X-rays may be taken and vets must work with farriers to provide shoes to try and realign the pedal bone.

As with many diseases prevention is better than cure and horse owners should be encouraged to monitor their horse’s diets and restrict grazing if necessary.

 

Illegal Pet Trade Could Lead to Extinction

Georgie Holiday (Vet News Editor, Zoo & Exotics)

The illegal pet trade has been a problem in animal conservation for hundreds of years, having been a reason for the loss of countless animal species in the wild.

LorisRecently, the International Animal Rescue (or IAR) has been focussing efforts to bring an end to the trading of a particular animal- the loris.

What is a loris? Relatives of lemurs and bush-babies, lorises are mammals found in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. There are countless laws protecting the lorises- with fines of $10,000 and even prison sentences- but, despite this, the poaching of the animals for illegal trade has boomed over the past decade.

Lorises are venomous, so you wouldn’t initially think they would make great pets. However, the hunters use clippers or pliers to cut out the poisonous teeth, leading to trauma and even death. This also means that the lorises cannot feed themselves if they are ever reintroduced into the wild.

Two years ago, two hunted lorises which still had their teeth were rescued by the IAR and had radio collars fitted before they were released. Today the lorises can still be traced and have found to be sleeping with wild lorises and grooming each other, proving the success of rehabilitation if the teeth are still intact. However, it is estimated that 76% of the lorises in captivity are not this lucky.

The IAR have launched a social awareness campaign which outlines the dangers and problems locals are causing by buying the animals at the market- namely, the likely extinction of lorises in the wild. Since 2011, this campaign has entered local media and is definitely raising awareness, although the market still exists and thrives.

Managing Pain in Cats

(Summary of the article ‘Clinical use of methadone in cats, Part One’, published in the May 14th issue of the Veterinary Times)

Ilakiya Guruswamy (Vet News Editor, Cats & Dogs)

CatSeveral surveys indicate that pain in cats has been largely under-treated in clinical practice throughout Europe, compared to dogs. There are several reasons for this;
· Difficulty in actually recognising pain
· A lack of licensed analgesic drugs
· A concern about the side effects of commonly used analgesic drugs
· A lack of information specific to cats
· Difficulty in medicating cats

The reasons for treating pain involve not only ethical issues, but also the fact that left untreated, pain can cause several pathophysiological disorders. In humans, it is understood that the consequences of these disorders can delay recovery from surgery, and increase the risk of postoperative complications. The pain can cause changes in the sensory processing in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which can be identified by the occurrence of primary and secondary hyperalgesia [an increased response to a painful stimulus], allodynia [a painful response to a normally harmless stimulus], and spontaneous pain. Once these changes in sensory processing take place, it is much more difficult to manage the pain effectively.

Drugs known as opioids, are known as the most effective pain killers in humans, and for cats. In the past, practitioners have been reluctant to use opoids in cats, for fear of opoid-induced excitement, or ‘opoid-mania’. This is a misconception based on very old data, which relate to the administration of very high doses of morphine, a magnitude higher than clinically recommended doses in cats.

Opoids form the backbone of preoperative analgesia regimens in cats. With the appropriate use of the drugs, euphoria in cats is produced, with a lot of purring, rolling, rubbing, and kneading with forepaws. Opoids also increase the effects of sedatives (acepromazine, alpha2-agonists, and benzodiazephines), allowing the use of lower doses of sedatives prior to surgery.