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Speaker Abstracts

The speaker abstracts for the lectures which took place during the 2016 Official Veterinarian Conference are available to view below:


SMALL ANIMAL

 

Nigel Gibbens - The role of the OV; why is it so important?

 

Nigel Gibbens will set out the essential role of Government in protecting animal health and welfare and how that underpins the key objectives of maintaining a secure food supply, protecting public health and ensuring a competitive livestock sector that supports national economies.  He will talk about the particular roles and responsibilities of OVs: you form the majority of state veterinarians, and work as a team with your colleagues employed directly by Government. The context of the work of the official veterinarian is changing. Global challenges of a rising human population combined with climate change may both increase the risk of known and emerging disease threats and shrink the land area available for food production.  At the same time, export of animals and their products is an increasingly important part of our national economy.  The work of the official veterinarian is essential to protecting the health and welfare of our animal population.  You can reduce the risks that some animal diseases present to public health, and help maintain the high UK reputation on disease control and accurate and reliable certification that underpins our exports.

We need our official veterinarians to be highly trained, motivated and professional as they deliver the majority of the veterinary professional services required by Governments.


 

Bob Ghandour - The welfare aspects of transporting small animals by air

 

With the advent and extension of the pet passport scheme, travelling pets has become much more common over the past decade. Current stats indicate approximately 15,000 – 16,000 companion animals enter and leave the UK – a large increase over the last ten years.

The aim of this talk is to give vets a better understanding of the processes and pitfalls of pet travel.  From legislation to welfare, vets are an integral and vital part of this process – ensuring pets are looked after as fully as possible during their travel.

All air transport is governed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). IATA determines the rules and regulations which airlines and forwarders (such as pet shippers) must adhere to when flying pets – guidelines outlining a required minimum standard. From aspects such as construction specifications for pet travel crates to minimum size requirements, the rules are extensive and complex.

Additionally, individual airlines commonly have their own rules and methods of helping the pets’ welfare, including separate check in areas away from the main (and sometimes noisy) cargo warehouses, checklists for checking water provision and specially trained handlers.

A further important aspect when travelling a pet is planning a route. This is an aspect in which both vets and pet shippers play a vital role in helping to minimise stress and uphold the welfare considerations of travelling pets over longer distances.  These would include; planning the best and most direct journeys, using pheromones to calm the pets being put in the crates, and additional efforts at making the crate more comfortable.

A greater knowledge of these aspects and additional efforts will enable first opinion vets to better advise (and hopefully re-assure) their clients when asked about exporting their pets by air and enhance the experience for all concerned!

 



Ismael Salcedo - The perfect pet passport

 

The pet passport is the identification document that officially records information related to the identity of a specific animal.  It allows pet dogs, cats and ferrets (pets) to travel between Member States and from Third Countries in accordance with the harmonised rules as set out in Regulation 576/2013 (as amended). The model identification documents for the non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets is the same in all European countries and is laid out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013.

The pet passport contains 12 sections, some of them must be completed in order for the pet to be eligible to move to other Member States or return to Great Britain (GB).  Pets travelling within five days of their owner or authorised person to GB will be checked upon arrival at the pets’ entry point. Pets that are not accompanied will be checked at a Border Inspection Post if travelling from a Third Country. Pets must travel on approved routes with an authorised carrier, with the exception of assistance dogs on certain EU routes and pets from the Republic of Ireland.

Any failure of identification or documentation checks could lead to the animal being refused entry into GB.  There is a risk it could be placed in quarantine until it is compliant with the requirements.

It is very important that the completion of the passport is done correctly and in accordance with the guidance from Defra and the 10 principles of certification . Pet owners should be advised of the requirement to treat dogs against Echinococcus multilocularis before they return to GB unless they travel from Finland, Ireland or Norway.   

We will be discussing in detail each section of the passport, what the relevance of that section is with regards to the Pet Travel Scheme and how to complete it to get The Perfect Pet Passport. 

 


 

Ian Wright - Rhipicephalus sanguineus and the transmission of tick borne diseases - how much of a threat does this tick pose to the UK?

Recent tick borne disease focus has been on babesiosis and its vector, Dermacentor reticularis. This is understandable, given the recent outbreak in Essex, and given that D.reticularis is already present in endemic foci in the UK, the spread of babesiosis is a real concern. Another tick of veterinary importance across Europe however, is Rhipicephalus sanguineus. This tick is not currently endemic in the UK but dogs and people infested with it while abroad may be subjected to a variety of tick borne pathogens with Veterinary and zoonotic significance.

The climate in the UK does not favour establishment of R.sanguineus. The tick is predominantly endemic in Southern Europe due to its preference for a warm climate but is thought to be moving north into central European countries, including France, Germany and Switzerland. If it can establish in these countries, even in small foci, then the possibility of endemic foci in the South of England becomes a real concern. It has the potential to complete its life cycle more quickly than Ixodes spp ticks, often within one season. This allows it to potentially take advantage of centrally heated homes and become established in households in a similar way to fleas. Two cases of such house infestation were recorded in the South of England in 2014. These cases were from dogs that had been imported from Europe and once established took more than 12 months to eliminate despite effective tick treatment of dogs within the household and repeated fumigation of the house. In addition to the threat of primary infestations and endemic foci of R.sanguineus in the UK, a number of tick borne pathogens may establish with it.

 

  • Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis – Caused by Ehrlichia canis. Acute febrile disease can develop with infection or potentially life threatening chronic immune suppression and thrombocytopaenia. Infections have been reported in dogs in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece, mirroring the distribution of R.sanguineus. Cases however, have also been reported in untraveled dogs in Germany and Switzerland, fuelling suspicions that R.sanguineus is spreading northwards.
  • Hepatozoonosis – Caused by Hepatozoon canis. This pathogen is transmitted by ingestion of ticks while grooming and infection can be fatal in a similar way to E.canis. It is often present in mixed infections in the South of Europe.
  • Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF) - caused by Rickettsia conorii. It is an acute febrile zoonotic disease which may also rarely clinically affect dogs. This pathogen was the driving force behind the compulsory tick treatment on the Pet Travel Scheme before return to the UK, as it is capable of causing significant complications in human patients. It was dropped, primarily on the grounds that R.conorii is thought to be limited to Southern Europe and that R.sanguineus is unlikely to become established in the UK and Scandinavia due to the colder climate of these countries. Its distribution in Southern Europe is far from certain as many infected dogs will be sub clinical carriers.
  • Canine cyclic thrombocytopaenia – Caused by the platelet inhabiting Ehrlichia platys. Infections are widespread in Southern Europe.

The uncertain distribution of R.conorii  as well as the variety of pathogens that R.sanguineus potentially harbours, makes continued vigilance and identification of R.sanguineus ticks entering the UK vital. This is both to alert Veterinary professionals to the possibility of these infections being present in dogs having travelled in Europe but also, to prevent UK transmission and establishment of R.sanguineus. After Echinococcus multilocularis and rabies, this tick is arguably the most important parasitic threat presently in Europe due to its persistence in homes, variety of pathogens and the zoonotic threat of R.conorii. OVs remain at the forefront of preventing UK establishment through giving accurate advice, promoting vigilance and rapidly finding and identifying ticks.

 


Neil Homer-Forbes - Exporting captive birds - what do I need to know?

 

The trade in UK, captive bred birds, predominantly raptors and psittacines, to other parts of the world, tends to be seasonal, time critical and subject to a number of peculiarities, not otherwise experienced in other commercial export certifications.

Birds being exported are often subject to controls of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In such cases the breeder (client or vendor), will be required to gain a CITES export permit, prior to requesting APHA Export Certification, some clients will be unaware of this requirement.  

Captive bred birds should bare a closed (i.e. entire ring), individually numbered, metal identification leg ring.  This ring must be of a prescribed size in respect of the species, (it should not be so large that it can go up over the inter-tarsal joint, or be removed over the digits).  The ring number must match that on the CITES and APHA Export certification forms.  

The certifying OV, should be in a position to certify the species of bird being exported, is that stated on the form, with the advent of hybrids, including ¾, 7/8, 15/16, this is not necessarily straight forward.

Pre-export health checks:

As with all species, these may vary with respect to the species, sex and age of birds, country of destination, any countries of transit, together with the current disease status of the UK, as well as that of any transit and destination territories and may change with time, often at very short notice.  

On occasions one will find that there is no prior agreement between APHA in the UK and the planned country of export.  Other times the laboratory tests requested by the importing country are not approved or available in the UK.  Likewise pre export parasiticide treatment may be mandatory, using a licensed product in accordance with the manufacturer’s data sheet, when in fact there is no licensed product for use in birds, such that compliance is impossible.  On occasion, pre export isolation, in insect free accommodation, on site of exporter etc. may be required e.g. for 30-90 days, which had not been known about, had not been verified by the OV, or complied with.

Typically only one bird shipment may board each flight, so it is not unusual to have a shipment bumped to a later flight, this eventuality should be planned for, ensuring that the export permit has sufficient duration to comply with delays.

Many practices will have none or just one OV, permitted to undertake avian exports, will they be available on the day and time, when an export inspection is required, this may well include weekends and early mornings.

Certification of exportation of birds is different, read your export documentation as soon as it arrives, ensure it is correct in all respects, and that all necessary compliance can be assured.

 


Sharon Edwards - Illegal Puppy Imports - the scale of the problem

The talk will cover the Why, Where, What, Who and How of the illegal puppy trade.

The issue manifested itself from 1/1/12 when the UK lost it’s derogation and went to accepting dogs and cats 21 days after their primary vaccination. EU Regulations 576/2013 and 577/2013 and Directive 92/65 are covered as the legal route for dog movements and the differences highlighted.

The countries that are mostly involved with this trade are discussed along with the routes and methods being used by the people carrying on this trade.

The issue of demand and supply is discussed, with reference to the breeds of dog most commonly involved, which highlights the scale of the problem, using stats from the RSPCA/Blue Cross reports. The impact on the regulatory organisations and some NGO’s is covered.

The talk then looks who is perpetrating the illegal movements and why and then moves on to how they are getting the puppies into the country and the loopholes they are using. The common M.O.’s that the perpetrators use, with case studies covering fraud, mis-description etc. and the vehicle types used.

There will be a discussion of the issue in other Member States and what is being done on the mainland to combat these illegal movements, finishing with what is being done in the U.K. to try and address the problem.

 


 

Ian Wright -  Disease threats to UK pets from the introduction of exotics diseases

Recent focus in relation to vector borne disease and the risks associated with pet travel, has very much been on ticks. This is understandable given the recent outbreak in Essex of babesiosis and increased vigilance towards exotic ticks and tick borne disease is vital. Several parasites with flies rather than ticks as vectors however, are currently absent from the UK, but endemic in Europe. Increased pet travel, human migration and climate change are leading to the rapid spread of these parasitic diseases and their vectors. This in turn, increases the risk of pets and their owners encountering these agents while abroad and bringing them back to the UK. Some of these fly vector borne diseases such as Leishmania infantum are unlikely to establish, as the UK neither possesses their vectors, nor has ideal conditions for their establishment. Culicine mosquitoes and other fly vectors however, are already common across the British Isles and are capable of transmitting a number of parasites with Veterinary and zoonotic significance.

Dirofilariosis - Increased movements of people and pets, as well as warming of the climate have allowed spread of Dirofilaria immitis into central Europe. It is now considered to be endemic in Bulgaria, Romania and intermittently in central France. It is likely that this spread north will continue so it is vital that the geographical distribution of this parasite is monitored and travelling pets given macrocyclic lactone prophylaxis. This is important, not just for the health of pets travelling abroad, but to prevent foci of D.immitis becoming established in the south of the UK, where the climate may already be warm enough to support transmission. Dirofilaria repens is a significant cause of ocular and skin disease in dogs and also has zoonotic potential with 586 cases in Europe to date. This can establish endemic foci in much cooler climates than D.immitis and is already endemic in Southern Europe, France, Eastern Europe and some central European countries. If introduced to the UK then endemic infection could rapidly be established here and so there is a strong argument for recommending macrocyclic lactone prophylaxis in dogs travelling to endemic countries, even if D.immitis is not thought to be present.

Thelaziosis – Canine thelaziosis is an eye condition caused by the conjunctival dwelling nematode Thelazia callipaeda.  Infection can lead to increased lacrimation, conjunctivitis, keratitis, epiphora, eyelid oedema, corneal ulcers and in severe cases, blindness. T.callipaeda  is known as "the oriental eye worm as it was thought to be limited to far Eastern countries, until its discovery in Italy in 1989. In the past 10 years it has been diagnosed in untravelled dogs in France and Switzerland.  It has zoonotic potential with human cases being increasingly recognised in Europe. It is thought that the parasite is spreading in tandem with its vector, the fruit fly Phortica variegata which feeds on lacrimal secretions, depositing T.callipaeda infective third stage larvae in the conjunctival sacs of suitable carnivore vectors as a result. P.variegata is difficult to differentiate from other fruit flies, but it has been identified in the South of England and predicative climate modelling from known existing habitats in Europe, suggest that the South/South East of England would make ideal breeding grounds. The pathogenic and zoonotic potential of T.callipaeda  makes its establishment in the UK a real concern and the use of fly replants should be considered in dogs and cats travelling to central as well as Southern Europe. In addition, milbemycin oxime may have some efficacy in preventing infection.

In addition to these fly borne threats, cases of Spirocerca lupi infection have been recorded in Europe as well as the UK. Increasing cases of the nasal arthropod Linguatula serrata are also being seen in imported dogs from Romania with little known of it’s potential to establish in the UK.

The spread of these parasites and the increased risk they pose, means that OVs must be prepared to give clients accurate advice for comprehensive parasite protection for their pets and be constantly abreast of current geographical distributions of vector borne parasites. Rapid diagnosis of these infections is also vital to limit the risk of spread to UK vectors.

 

LARGE ANIMAL

 

Alan Huxtable - An update on TB control and strategy

This talk will provide an overview of the strategy for TB eradication in GB.

There are different policies in England, Scotland and Wales and these will be described and explained.

The current disease situation in each of these countries will be covered, including presentation of the latest statistics.

Useful information sources for OVs will be signposted and discussed, including the Wales TB Dashboard and the TB Hub.

Recent changes to policy including Officially TB free withdrawn status by default in Wales, two severe interpretation tests in the high risk area, post movement testing in the low risk area, and private gamma interferon testing in England will be covered . Future proposals will also be discussed.

 



Nigel Gibbens - The role of the OV; why is it so important?

 

Nigel Gibbens will set out the essential role of Government in protecting animal health and welfare and how that underpins the key objectives of maintaining a secure food supply, protecting public health and ensuring a competitive livestock sector that supports national economies.  He will talk about the particular roles and responsibilities of OVs: you form the majority of state veterinarians, and work as a team with your colleagues employed directly by Government. The context of the work of the official veterinarian is changing. Global challenges of a rising human population combined with climate change may both increase the risk of known and emerging disease threats and shrink the land area available for food production.  At the same time, export of animals and their products is an increasingly important part of our national economy.  The work of the official veterinarian is essential to protecting the health and welfare of our animal population.  You can reduce the risks that some animal diseases present to public health, and help maintain the high UK reputation on disease control and accurate and reliable certification that underpins our exports.

We need our official veterinarians to be highly trained, motivated and professional as they deliver the majority of the veterinary professional services required by Governments.

 



Jo Wheeler - TB in Non-Bovines – from cats to camelids: case identification and management

The TB Order (England) 2014 and similar legislation in Wales (TB (Wales) Order 2011) places a legal requirement on OVs to report cases of suspected and confirmed Mycobacterium bovis infection in any mammal (other than humans) to APHA.

This presentation lists the different species that have been affected in recent years and shows maps of their distribution across GB. It provides numbers of isolations as well as the latest Major TB Spoligotype map for GB for 2015.

The typical case presentations and APHA control strategies for the different species are explained with many photographs of real incidents.

The various testing, movement restrictions and compensation arrangements are summarised at the end of the presentation as well as a timely reminder about the human health risks associated with this disease.

This is a timely presentation following on from the launch of DEFRA’s Open Consultation entitled “Bovine TB: tackling infection in pigs, sheep, goats, captive deer and South American camelids” on 30th August 2016.



Amanda Carson - Bluetongue- A threat to the UK?

Northern Europe experienced incursions of two vector-borne diseases within the space of four years. One was a strain of Bluetongue virus (BTV-8) never before recorded outside the continent of Africa; the other was a completely new virus Schmallenberg not identified anywhere previously, and both were transmitted by Culicoides midges.

BTV was previously regarded as a tropical or subtropical disease, but for decades has caused disease around the southern Mediterranean, affecting principally cloven-hooved ruminants. It is spread by a number of species of Culicoides midges, and does not spread from animal to animal. Some strains (BTV 8 and 16) can spread from dam to offspring via the placenta. Midges are extremely efficient at causing infection, but much less efficient at getting infected. Historically, the areas where BTV  was found was determined by the range and behaviour of the transmitting midges, and in higher latitudes was transmitted during the period of midge activity, dying away over the winter (‘vector-free’) period. More recently with climate change/warm winters and involvement of other midge species with a wider distribution, the area at risk of BTV infection has extended to cover most of Europe, and the virus has been able to overwinter by surviving in a combination of midges and host ruminants. The main means of spread is via midge movements, which may be considerable and translocation by movement of unrecognised viraemic animals.

Clinical signs vary between the serotypes of BTV but are associated with the effects of the virus on the cells lining blood vessels. A high fever is commonly seen with associated dullness; crusty red lesions develop at the junction between skin and mucosa (ie mouth, eyes, anus); also the skin of the teats and the hoof-skin junction. Swelling and oedema under the skin, especially of the lips and between the jaw are commonly seen; damage to the lung blood vessels causes respiratory distress. Death is not uncommon.  Signs of chronic disease include muscle wastage, infertility, lameness and abortion. BTV 8 and some live vaccine strains of BTV16 are also able to cross the placenta, causing profound brain damage and leading to death or ‘dummy’ calves and lambs. Generally, more severe signs are seen in sheep, less severe in cattle, wild ruminants and camelids.

Treatment is not available directly, but supportive nursing, anti-inflammatory treatment and antibiotics where secondary infection is present, can help. Vaccines are available, live attenuated in Europe but only killed in GB. Each serotype requires its own vaccine; there is no cross-protection between the serotypes.

Current situation:  A number of serotypes continue to circulate around countries of the Southern Mediterranean, with regular incursions across the sea from Northern Africa to the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and the middle east- the latter frequently associated with animal movements associated with religious festivals. In 2014 BTV4 spread rapidly across the Bosphorus to the Balkans, reaching Eastern Europe including, Greece, Crete, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. In 2015 BTV8 re-emerged in France posing a potential threat of spread to the UK 

Prevention: Although BTV is notifiable which provides movement restrictions, midge spread is unpredictable, and disease could also go undetected ahead of animal movement restrictions. Those intending to import animals from mainland Europe are advised to check carefully the location from where animals have or may have come from, and seek advice from the import section of APHA.

APHA undertake surveillance for BTV by post import testing of all sheep and goats imported from countries that have BTV.  Control measures for trade in live animals are in place in line with the Bluetongue Regulation, EC/1266/2007. The UK has published an updated Bluetongue disease control strategy which is available on the UK.gov website:                                                                                                                         

Juan Velarde - Welfare aspects of emergency on-farm slaughter

There are occasions when animals are affected by a disease or condition associated with severe pain or suffering, when treatment is no longer a possibility, emergency slaughter may be the best option to spare animals from unnecessary suffering.

In this talk I will cover the welfare aspects of on farm emergency slaughter. The objectives of the presentation are to provide the audience with a general overview of:

  • The available options for injured or sick livestock.
  • The definition of “Emergency on farm slaughter” according to the relevant meat hygiene legislation.
  • The most commonly used methods to humanely kill livestock on farm.
  • And, finally, how to assess the effectiveness of those methods.

 

 



Michelle Beer - Local authority welfare prosecutions

The effective regulation and enforcement of Animal Health & Welfare legislation is dependent on efficient use of resource and co-ordinated and co-operative working between interested stakeholders.

Local Authorities continue to see the diminishment of their central government grant year on year; as such services are being continually retracted. Understanding of our partners and stakeholders of the constraints this puts on regulatory and enforcement actions is essential to ensure best use is made of the available resource, it is targeted where needed most and where the best impact and outcome is likely.

Equally important is that stakeholders and partners understand the constraints of the legislation and the common pitfalls which can undermine a successful prosecution case. During this presentation we will discuss some case studies selected to demonstrate where cases involving on-farm welfare offences have failed in court; procedural failures; misinterpretation of the law; and failure to meet the burden of proof. We will cover the expert witness rules and requirements, roles and responsibilities and proving common offences.

 


 

Jonathan Kahn - The use of spoligotyping in TB case management

Samples taken from TB reactors at post mortem are cultured for Mycobacterium bovis and further tests (spoligotyping and VNTR typing) are used to determine which strain of M bovis is infecting that herd.   In the High Risk Area (HRA) those with the same strain are clustered together forming a ‘homerange’ for that strain, while those in the LRA generally reflect movement from the HRA, with a strain matching the animal’s farm of origin.   The M bovis strain found in a breakdown is often helpful in indicating the origin of infection, information useful in the subsequent management of the case.

 

EQUINE

 

Livio de Nyary - INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN HORSES - IMPORTING THROUGH BORDER INSPECTION POSTS

The British horse population is not as large as the cattle, pigs or poultry populations; however, the international trade and movements of horses are very active and generate a good source of income for the operators and the veterinary profession. This trend creates business opportunities but also risks such as potential disease spread, illegal trading and poor animal welfare standards which may have serious economic and reputational consequences.  Therefore, a sound system of border controls is vital as well as officially agreed international policies on animal health and welfare.  All Equidae originating from Third Countries may be imported into EU only through an approved Border Inspection Post (BIP). In GB there are three EU approved BIPs for the import of Equidae:  Heathrow, Prestwick and Stansted. BIPs must meet structural and operational requirements and are subject to internal audits and EU inspections by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO).  

The horse import conditions are established by EU legislation, which sets out country sanitary groups, model certificates, horse categories (registered Equidae for breeding and production, slaughter) and types of import (permanent, temporary, re-entry) according to the disease risk. A Third Country can export horses into EU only if it is authorised.

Importers must notify the BIP at least 24 hours in advance from the intended import.

In the BIP, each horse is subject to Veterinary checks: documentary, identification and physical. The latter includes welfare checks and sampling.  Serological samples are randomly collected from at least 3% of the horses imported for breeding and production, for each country of origin every month. Importers are required to pay specific fees for the veterinary checks.

The disease-free status of the exporting country may suddenly change; therefore, it is essential that BIP veterinary staff have access to the latest information. This information can be accessed online through OIE Alert -Disease Information, APHA International Disease Monitoring reports and APHA the Live Animal BIP Compendium.

In the event of a horse failing veterinary checks, different options are envisaged depending on the degree of non-compliance and the level of risk involved: re-despatch outside EU, slaughter, detention and sampling.  If a notifiable disease is suspected, the BIP contingency plan is activated with the detention of the whole load of horses in the BIP or in a dedicated area in its close proximity.  

If horses have satisfactorily passed the veterinary checks, the Common Veterinary Entry Documents (CVEDs) are electronically validated on the EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) and arrangements are made for the release of the horses from the BIP, by liaising with HMRC through the Automatic Licence Verification System (ALVS) and ensuring that all documentation is processed as required.

 



Chris Pearce - The Welfare Aspects of Equine Dentition – the Veterinarian’s Role

All veterinarians will be aware of the entitlement of animals to the five freedoms – freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, fear and distress and from pain, injury and disease. Recognition of these individual factors in horses can be challenging, as horses’ evolution as prey animals has resulted in an innate drive to conceal pain and discomfort and they have no mechanism of easily communicating pain. Dental disease has the potential to cause marked suffering and compromise welfare through development of debilitating painful dental disease such as severe overgrowths, fractures, root abscesses and periodontal disease. Recognition of dental disease and developing techniques and procedures to treat and prevent such disease is therefore of paramount importance for equine welfare.

Studies have shown that up to 33% of horses, and up to 100% of donkeys and geriatric horses have dental disease that would benefit from treatment if identified [1-3]. Clinical signs generally attributed to dental disease such as quidding, halitosis and facial swellings, are comparatively rare, either being from a peracute severe problem, or most commonly end stage dental disease following many years of development, hidden from external observers by the horse’s innate drive to conceal a weakness by subtle alteration of masticatory patterns. Only with severe pain or debilitation is the horse is no longer able to compensate and demonstrate clinical signs. One study by oral endoscope examination of horses showing no outward signs of dental disease showed that 12% had dental fractures, 45% had periodontal disease and 65% had sharp enamel points with cheek lacerations [4].

There has been a paradigm shift in our understanding of equine dental anatomy and pathology over the last 15 years through well conducted research, representing the fastest change in an approach to a veterinary subject across all sub-specialties [5; 6]. This has taken equine dentistry as a subject far beyond the traditional ‘rasping’. Our role as veterinarians is to effectively communicate this development to horse owners and carers, veterinary students, dental technicians and riders. The key message is that whereas periodic rasping of enamel points and overgrowths is important, development of other dental disorders may be present, and will often not be associated with obvious external clinical signs. Regular clinical examinations of the dentition are therefore an essential part of any horse’s management programme, along with traditional rasping, and should be performed by a professional well trained in our modern understanding of the anatomy and pathology of equine dentition. It is our duty from a welfare perspective to diagnose dental disease as early as possible, prompting discussion about potential early interventions and treatments, with more advanced disorders being referred to a suitably qualified veterinarian or specialist to prevent the inevitable deterioration of the condition to a point where welfare is more seriously compromised and treatments are more limited.

Our role as veterinarians protecting welfare also involves policing the way dentistry is taught and practiced by both veterinary surgeons and non-veterinarians. Education and ‘myth-busting’ is an important role, seeking out misinformation and malpractice, and educating on good evidence-based practice. Insisting on appropriate referral for advanced cases, disseminating knowledge that teeth are living structures with complex anatomy, requiring local and regional anaesthesia for many advanced techniques beyond rasping, and advising on roles of dental service providers and who is legally permitted to perform the various dental procedures.

Treatment of advanced disorders by veterinarians should be decisive, pre-emptive and involve utilization of modern techniques of standing sedation, regional and local anaesthesia, minimally invasive surgery and increasingly preventative treatments such as endodontics and restorative dentistry.

References

[1] Brigham E.j., D.G.R. (2000) An equine postmortem dental study: 50 cases. Equine Veterinary Education 12, 59-62.

[2] Taylor, L. and Dixon, P.M. (2007) Equine idiopathic cheek teeth fractures: part 2: a practice-based survey of 147 affected horses in Britain and Ireland. Equine Vet J 39, 322-326.

[3] Anthony, J., Waldner, C., Grier, C. and Laycock, A.R. (2010) A survey of equine oral pathology. J Vet Dent 27, 12-15.

[4] Simhofer, H., Griss, R. and Zetner, K. (2008) The use of oral endoscopy for detection of cheek teeth abnormalities in 300 horses. Vet J 178, 396-404.

[5] Dacre, I.T. (2004) A Pathological Study of Equine Dental Disorders. PhD Thesis.

[6] Casey, M. (2013) A new understanding of oral and dental pathology of the equine cheek teeth. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 29, 301-324, v.

 



Allison Williment - FLY-GRAZING HORSES: THE WELFARE ASPECTS OF THIS PRACTICE

Fly-grazing is the practice of grazing horses on either private or public land without permission. The practice has become increasingly common over recent years, resulting in the introduction of the Control of Horses Acts (Wales and England) in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The Acts differ in a few key areas but essentially facilitate the process of seizing or taking ownership of fly-grazed horses, and subsequent sale or disposal.

Fly-grazed horses pose a particular risk when it comes to disease control: Their welfare and health are often poor due to lack of routine care, veterinary treatment and disease prophylaxis, they are often found in unsuitable environments and suffer from parasitism and malnutrition; they are moved frequently, often over county borders, are widely dispersed and may either be highly visible or hidden from public view; they may have direct or indirect contact with large numbers of other animals, and many roam freely; the majority are untraceable due to difficulties in identifying an owner and the absence of passport or microchip (although these are not required for animals under six months old; an exemption that is often exploited). Responsibility for the horses may fall to the land owner, albeit that they are not the horses’ owner.

Lower end dealers are often involved in the practice of fly-grazing; horses may be bought and sold, exported and imported, many times during their life. These horses move through foreign yards and markets, most of which have little or no biosecurity in place. Imported or re-imported horses increase the risk of disease introduction, including the risk of exotic disease.

Slaughterhouses are often the final destination for fly-grazed horses. Many horses are falsely or fraudulently identified, with unknown health status and no accurate record of medications. Lack of routine care does not preclude the possibility that the horses will have been treated with medications, many pharmaceutical products, both veterinary and otherwise, are available illegally and may be used, for example, to mask problems when horses are sold. There is also a small but nonetheless real chance that fly-grazed horses will have received medication from well-intentioned but ill-informed members of the public.

Under the Control of Horses Acts various disposal methods are available besides euthanasia or slaughter. However, there are welfare considerations whichever option is chosen. For example, bailiffs should be experienced and ideally have equine knowledge; any transporters used should hold the relevant authorisation documents and certification; and, if rehoming to a charity, it should be reputable and able to demonstrate that they will ensure the future welfare of the animal, including euthanasia when necessary.

In summary, the nature of fly-grazing practices and their impact upon welfare, the unknown health status and medication history of the horses involved, lack of traceability, links to the lower end dealer network, and the various methods of disposal available, all pose particular challenges for official vets. Awareness and knowledge of these issues can help in safeguarding welfare, preventing disease spread and protecting the human food chain.

 


Philip Ivens - Equine notifiable diseases - why are they notifiable

What is an equine notifiable disease?

An equine notifiable disease is disease that is named in UK or EU law (until UK leaves the EU) that the veterinary surgeon is legally obliged to report to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), even if it is only suspected.

The Law:

In European Legislation there are a number of pieces of legislation in place regarding equine movements within the EU and regarding the control of equine notifiable diseases. Several aspects of equine health are agreed at Community level until the UK leaves the EU when this legislation will have to be updated in UK law depending on Brexit negotiations.

Council Directive 90/426/EEC (and associated Commission Decisions) details the health conditions applicable for equine trade and movement within the EU and the health conditions applicable for the import of equines from third countries. Under this Directive, equines may only move between Member States if they come from premises which have not been restricted on account of a number of specified diseases. Import of equines into the EU is only permitted from countries that are free of African Horse Sickness (AHS) and which do not permit vaccination against this disease.  

Commission Decision 93/623/EEC lays down rules on passports for equines.

Council Directive 82/894/EEC specifies a number of equine diseases that are notifiable to the Commission, these diseases include:     

  • African horse sickness (AHS) 
  • Dourine (causative agent Trypanosoma equiperdum)
  • Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA)
  • Equine encephalomyelitis (EE) (of all types, including Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile Virus)
  • Glanders or Farcy (causative agent Burkholderia (formerly Pseudomonas) mallei)
  • Vesicular Stomatitis 

In the presentation on the day these disease will be described.

Council Directive 90/426/EEC specifies the restrictions to be placed on a premises affected by an outbreak of a notifiable disease. Following any outbreak of notifiable disease, restrictions would remain in place on affected holdings until the premises were declared disease free. 

Council Directive 92/35/EEC outlines control rules and measures to combat AHS. This is the only specific EU Directive for a single equine disease. AHS is covered by a specific directive due to the devastating potential for AHS to be rapidly spread by insect vectors and to cause serious equine mortality in a naïve equine population such as the equine population of the EU. This has now been superseded by recommendations from the UK African Horse Sickness Working Group and UK control strategy is now laid down for the United Kingdom – please see recommended reading.

UK legislation to control notifiable equine disease in England is currently laid down in the following statutes:

  • Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987
  • Movement of Animals Restrictions Order 2002
  • The Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992
  • The Specified Diseases (Notification) Order 1996
  • The Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 2006 
  • The Infectious Anaemia (Compensation) (England) Order 2006

Similar orders apply for Scotland and Wales. 

All diseases notifiable in the EU are also notifiable in the UK. In addition, the following are notifiable in the UK:

  • Epizootic Lymphangitis (causative agent Histoplasma farciminosum)
  • Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA)
  • Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) (causative agent Taylorella equigenitalis) 

Although notifiable, EVA and CEMO have no human health implications and once notified are controlled voluntarily by the equine industry using guidelines drawn up by the Horse Race Betting Levy Board (HBLB) – see recommended reading.

Recommended Reading:

HBLB Guidelines: http://codes.hblb.org.uk/

DEFRA/APHA - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/notifiable-diseases-in-animals

World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS) Interface - http://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Wahidhome/Home

African Horse Sickness Control Strategy - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/african-horse-sickness-control-strategy

AHS Statuary Instruments adopted across England and the devolved institutions of the United Kingdom superseding the EU directive from 1992 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/all?title=African%20Horse20Sickness


Linda Smith - Being an (expert) witness

Most people get through life without appearing in court, but as vets we occasionally get drawn into the process for various reasons. This presentation is intended to explain the process.  

Your involvement in a legal case may be linked to a client, or to becoming involved in an animal-related situation via an animal charity or interaction with APHA.  If a decision is made to prosecute the owner (most veterinary cases are related to animal welfare, but other offences, including animal identification, refusal to co-operate with investigation into suspected notifiable disease and offences linked to animal transportation are also common), you could form a significant part of the process.

The various different categories of witness (witness of fact, professional witness and expert witness) are described, together with examples of which type of witness you might be.  A witness of fact provides an account of what was seen, done or not done, and the sort of situation that was experienced.  A professional witness does the same, but with the benefit of professional knowledge.  For example, a member of the public might describe an animal as having “a nasty cut”, whilst a professional witness would perhaps describe “a 1 cm deep laceration across the lateral aspect of the left hind, 10 cm above the hock and 15 cm long”.  An expert witness is completely different: in this situation, you are there to provide impartial information to the court about the veterinary aspects of the alleged offence.  For example, if you have worked in equine practice for many years, you might be considered an expert in your specialist areas.  There is no legal definition of an expert witness: the crucial aspect of this role is that you may be asked to give your opinion to the court, rather than simply relaying your recollection of the events associated with the case.

Evidence is defined, and you are provided with guidance on how to prepare for a court appearance.  You will learn a little about how to write a statement, and what to expect in court, including how to decide whether to use the oath or the affirmation.

The difference between civil and criminal law is explained, and the burden of proof discussed.  A typical court is described, together with the experience of giving evidence.

By the end of this presentation, you should feel a bit more confident if asked or summoned to give evidence in court.

The TB Order (England) 2014 and similar legislation in Wales (TB (Wales) Order 2011) places a legal requirement on OVs to report cases of suspected and confirmed Mycobacterium bovis infection in any mammal (other than humans) to APHA.

This presentation lists the different species that have been affected in recent years and shows maps of their distribution across GB. It provides numbers of isolations as well as the latest Major TB Spoligotype map for GB for 2015.

The typical case presentations and APHA control strategies for the different species are explained with many photographs of real incidents.

The various testing, movement restrictions and compensation arrangements are summarised at the end of the presentation as well as a timely reminder about the human health risks associated with this disease.

 

This is a timely presentation following on from the launch of DEFRA’s Open Consultation entitled “Bovine TB: tackling infection in pigs, sheep, goats, captive deer and South American camelids” on 30th August 2016.