TB Testers required. Flexible working days to suit your needs. Please contact Joy, Michael, Iain or Christine at Lisburn Veterinary Clinic on (028) 92 662661 to discuss further or email email@example.com
Answers to some FAQs:
Yes, doing the walks on horseback is allowed!
Our charities? NI Air Ambulance and Vet Support NI.
No, its not too late to join in – these walks will continue all year. Drop VetNI a line if you can’t find the details. We’ll get you signed up and send you a very desirable NIVA snood/buff/neck gaiter thingy so you too can make jokes about walking in the buff!
Submitting photos of your walks isn’t compulsory but it does give you the chance to win a prize 🙂
If you want to join in whilst pushing a lawnmower, who are we to stop you.
Can’t manage the walking? Why not sponsor other walkers instead? the JustGiving page is here.
Yes, group walks with NIVA colleagues are now being planned. Watch your e-mails for details!
What are the implications of new technologies for both animal health and welfare and veterinary regulation?
What are your views on the provision of 24/7 emergency cover?
How should we interpret an animal being under the care of a veterinary surgeon?
Where does remote consulting (vet-to-client telemedicine) fit into current practice and what are its limitations?
The RCVS launched an online qualitative survey to gain the views and feedback of UK-based veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses on 19 May 2021 so its YOUR turn to have your say!
An email containing a personalised link to the survey has been sent to rgeistered vets and vet nurses. If you can’t see yours, you can apply to complete the survey by sending an e-mail to RCVSsurvey@accent-mr.com.
The survey closes at 5pm on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. It should take 15-20 minutes to complete, but can be returned to and completed in stages if preferred.
APOPO is a Belgium-based humanitarian organisation, famous for training Tanzanian rats to save lives across the world. On 28th April NIVA members gathered (virtually) to hear Anna Bouchier, Swiss and European Development Director of the charity, describe its history and current work.
The charity has been training rats to clear minefields in post-conflict regions since 1997. It was the brainchild of Belgian founders Bart Weetjens and Christophe Cox, the former of whom bred pet rats as a hobby and observed minefield problems first-hand while travelling as a student in Angola and Mozambique.
APOPO’s training centre is situated in Morogoro, Tanzania and uses Southern African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei). These adaptable, intelligent, social, and mainly nocturnal omnivores typically weigh in at between 1and 1.5kg – 2 or 3 times the size of our local European varieties. They are known for their amazing sense of smell (compensating for poor eyesight) because they use olfactory cues to communicate long distance in the wild, and have been selected for heroRAT training because they are also ubiquitous, resistant to local disease, easy to transport, easy to transfer between trainers, and long enough lived to repay the training investment.
Anna was at pains to point out that animal welfare is at the very heart of all that APOPO do. All the rats are the product of a dedicated breeding programme and extremely well cared for throughout their lives. Training starts with socialisation and habituation from 4 weeks of age and progresses to reward-based operant conditioning, which takes between 9 months and a year in total. Down-time is spent in rich and stimulating play cages or resting in cosy clay-pot nests. Vet checks are regular and natural diet and behaviour are respected, with working hours being early mornings or evenings, and weekdays only. The rats typically live for 6-8 years and only work for as long as they want to. At the first sign of any waning of enthusiasm for the task, they are retired to luxury accommodation at the training centre.
No animal has ever been harmed on active duty. It would be unlikely that a rat would trigger a landmine as they typically require 4-5kg pressure to cause deployment, but it is more impressive that the rats have never missed a mine that has subsequently exploded. Accreditation requires the rats to clear 400 sq m of mines without missing any targets and with no more than one false ground scratching indication. Amazingly, in contrast with humans in a “rat race”, they demonstrate little propensity to cheat to gain reward!
The rats can clear an area the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes, compared to 4 days for a man with a metal detector. They are particularly efficient in short scrub or desert, however the length of their legs proved to be a limitation in dense bush and the jungles of Cambodia, leading to APOPO opening a facility training Technical Survey dogs. These Belgian Shepherds carry GPS backpacks with a microphone and camera, enter dense scrub unaccompanied, and sit to indicate 1 metre from any unexploded ordinance. The dogs may miss targets, but this technique allows large areas to be assessed for contamination before sending rats in to micro-search.
In 20 years APOPO’s heroRATs and heroDOGs have cleared over 108,700 landmines and released millions of square metres of land for safe farming. This work will be ongoing for some time – despite the Ottawa convention, 60 countries have remaining minefields and there were almost 6000 mine-related accidents in 2019, 43% of which involved children.
Ten years in, APOPO’s work diversified into training rats to detect another deadly global threat – TB, in sputum samples. Prior to Covid, TB was the world’s most deadly infectious disease with 1.3 million deaths in 2019 alone. It spreads easily in densely populated areas and, as the leading killer of HIV patients, Is particularly deadly in Africa. In Europe, the gold-standard for diagnosis is culture, which takes a week to produce a result, during which time the patient must isolate. Molecular testing needs expensive hardware, electricity and internet connectivity, so the current African solution is microscopy…which is fairly quick, but only 50% accurate. This is where the rats come in. In 20 minutes a trained rat can assess 100 (heat-treated and therefore safe) samples, and, to date, the program has picked up 20,000 positive TB cases which had slipped through the microscopy net, allowing timely treatment and prevention of further spread to contacts. Fascinatingly, for reasons unclear, the rats are particularly quick and accurate at detecting cases in children.
Future uses for the skills and talents of these fabulous animals seem practically limitless. The scope for detecting other pathogens and diseases is obvious and exciting, as are the prospects for detecting trafficked wildlife, drugs and other contraband, and environmental contaminants. Work is even under way in training “rescueRATs” with tiny smart backpacks to search rubble for survivors.
NIVA would like to thank Elanco for their generous sponsorship of Anna’s talk, and helping to raise awareness of the amazing work of this excellent charity and a much-maligned species. Anyone reading this who isn’t so keen on our long-tailed friends could do worse than visit the APOPO website (https://www.apopo.org/en) – I cannot imagine how even the most determined musophobe would not be beguiled by pictures of these beautiful and intelligent creatures in action, saving human lives.
Veterinary practices can benefit from funding to install a new software that makes it simpler to report antibiotic usage on farms across Northern Ireland. Thanks to a research initiative in Northern Ireland entitled ‘STrategic AntiMicrobial use in Dairy, Beef and Lamb Production’ (STAMP), a software application to benchmark antibiotic use is now widely available. The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) will fund the installation cost of the ‘STAMP AMU Benchmarking Tool’ in practices across Northern Ireland between 1st April 2021 and 31st March 2022. The tool can also be used to report antibiotic usage for the purposes of the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (NIBL FQAS), thereby replacing the need for vets to fill out the existing paper form.
Demonstrating the responsible use of antibiotics is a critical component of food production. The beef, sheep and dairy industry must respond to the needs of its customers. However, a key challenge faced by vets and producers is gathering accurate information on the purchase and use of medicines on farms. The benchmarking tool developed in partnership with the STAMP project partners and Farmvet Systems is a user-friendly web-based platform that captures and monitors antibiotic prescription use at farm level. With the appropriate permissions in place, the tool aggregates and standardises existing data sets from vet practices, APHIS or vet entered records in VetIMPRESS to produce AMU reports in a few simple steps; with significant savings made on the time it takes to produce reports manually. The tool also provides producers with key information that supports decisions to improve animal health and enables vets to have effective discussions with their clients on how best to optimise the use of antibiotics.
Commenting on the funding opportunity, Colin Smith, Industry Development Manager at The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland said: “LMC is delighted to confirm it will fund the installation cost of the STAMP AMU Benchmarking Tool. The funding provides a one-off opportunity to help the industry meet the challenges ahead around strategic use of antibiotics. The application offers a quick and easy way to monitor antibiotic use with minimal data input and we are delighted to support the adoption of this tool in practices across Northern Ireland.”
George Brownlee, CEO of Farmvet Systems, continues: “The important area of antibiotic use in livestock production is increasingly coming under the spotlight. A capability of our VetIMPRESS platform is the capacity for vets to effectively monitor medicine usage. We are pleased to put our expertise towards the development of this industry-wide platform, which will lead to more responsible use of antibiotics for the long-term benefit of farmers, their animals and the public. The STAMP AMU Benchmarking Tool will enable vets to make informed decisions as advisors and provide an effective means for vets and producers to work together.”
Funding will be available to veterinary practices in Northern Ireland from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022 and will cover the cost of the software installation. Vets who wish to use the tool should contact Farmvet Systems Ltd directly to organise installation on 028 8674 7378 or visit www.vetimpress.com/stampni.
With apologies to Caravaggio . . . the President’s Prize for “Best attempt to entertain” goes to the Gibson family for their recreation of “Salome with the head of John the Baptist”. NIVA is signing off on this event for 2020 and hopes that all of the fabulous entries made you smile this summer!
Luke Gamble of Worldwide Veterinary Service is used to assessing pets but nevertheless was almost flummoxed when asked to compare them to their owners. Luke kindly adjudicated the final class of the Virtual Village Fete – Class 7 – Pet most like its owner. Here are the results!
In third place, a good likeness though “not quite hairy enough” – its John Hill entered by Susie Hill. Its hard to believe but Susie says they are both both wilful and difficult at times!
In second place, a merging of dog and owner, its Susie Hill and Annie!
And in first place, a deserving winning entry from Rachael Frew, its Otis and Jeff – but which one is Otis and which one is Jeff?
The similarities are unmistakable! Well done to all entrants in this and all of the other classes. If you had even half the fun compiling your entries that we (VetNI) had opening them, then we must formally declare this Virtual Village Fete a resounding success. Roll on next year’s event!
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have realised that there are two NIVA Virtual Village Fete classes whose winners have not been announced. This was due to the busy lifestyle of the judges that we approached. TV vet Luke Gamble of the Worldwide Veterinary Service is obviously a very busy man too, yet he kindly found time to adjudicate Classes 5 and 7 for us. Thanks Luke! Watch his adjudication of both classes HERE.
As a reminder, the lockdown task in Class 5 was to recreate a famous artwork or celebrity photograph using whoever and whatever was available in the home or workplace. One family excelled at this task – its almost a clean sweep!
In joint third place, two entries that both revel in the macabre . . . Susan Cunningham managed to persuade her son Hugh to replicate Death of Marat by Jaques-Louis David and Jo Gibson arranged her family to recreate Caravaggio’s “Salome with the head of John the Baptist”
In second place, another stunning entry from Susan as the Cunningham boys – Hugh, Ralph and Miles – brilliantly re-create the Bronte “sisters” as painted by their brother Branwell.
and in first place (can you spot the trend?!) Susan Cunningham and family trip down the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. The “real” lion is husband Johnny, taking a break from practising the Welly Darts.
Congratulations to all our entrants, most of whom were Cunninghams – now that’s a family that enjoys dressing up!
Due to the present COVID situation, The North of Ireland Veterinary Golf Society Autumn Outing due to be held in September has with regret been cancelled. Therefore the Jim McDowell trophy and BOCM cup will not be played for this year.
Bert Allison will be continuing his role as Captain in 2021.