Update 15/0102016: In the last 2 weeks the disease were confirmed 2 in backyard flocks, one in Wales and a second in North Yorkshire
Update 17/12/2016: Bird flu found at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire.
DEFRA, the government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has issued instructions to all poultry keepers to keep them indoors and away from wild birds. This instruction relates to both commercial poultry farmers and owners of backyard flocks. The order has now been extended until 28 January 2017.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Professor Nigel Gibbens said:
- Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good bio-security on their premises.
- Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity – for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.
What is “Bird Flu”?
Avian influenza refers to the flu viruses that occur naturally in wild birds like ducks and geese. They are very contagious and can also infect poultry and other animals.
The symptoms in birds typically include swelling of the head, eyelids, comb and hocks, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, watery diarrhoea and sometimes sudden death.
How is it the virus spread?
Wild waterfowl are often asymptomatic carriers of the disease; the virus is transmitted via their faeces to other birds. The virus can also be carried on clothing or food bowls.
Is there any risk to humans?
Currently the threat to humans remains very low. Transmission to humans is rare and there is no evidence that this particular strain has managed to make the species jump yet. People who catch it usually have had direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments. There is no risk from eating eggs or poultry.
What can I do to protect my birds?
The advice is to house all poultry for the next 30 days where practical. If you cannot do this, isolate them from wild birds and their faeces. A covered run is better welfare for chickens than being shut in a dark shed. Close mesh may not be enough protection as a roof, polytunnels will work well. Free range hens will need entertainment if suddenly confined such as branches for extra perching, vegetables hung up etc.
What will we do?
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and post updates when new information become available.
You can find more information on the Defra website
As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, it can be a very distressing time of the year, for both pets and their owners. Over 40% of dogs in the UK are reported to suffer with a fear of fireworks. It should also be remembered that cats will also suffer with the fireworks.
Animals who do differ with firework phobias will display a range of problems, varying from those animals who simply bark at the fireworks to try and make them go away, those that hide from them, those that show obvious signs of distress, right through to those that appear to â€œfreezeâ€. For us as owners, these signs can be greatly distressing to see. Yet for the animals this fear will not only cause emotional trauma, but often lead to physical injuries as well.
So what do we, as pet owners, do to try and reduce the problems our animals suffer due to firework phobias? Simply put, there is not one simple solution. Yet, by adopting numerous strategies, we should be able make this time of year easier for our cats and dogs.
The following strategies may apply to a greater or lesser extent to certain individual situations, and often many different approaches need to be taken at the same time.
1. If at all possible avoid the fireworks, which is easier said than done these days. If you do have a friend who lives in a remote area consider spending time with them on the worst of the fireworks, for example when the local display is on. Sadly, we all known that now firework â€œnightâ€ seems to last many weeks.
2. To reduce the impact of the sound of fireworks you can try to create competing noises such as loud music. Remember not to play this too loudly as this noises itself may end up causing anxiety.
3. It may seem obvious, but do close blinds and curtains well before any fireworks start to reduce the effects the sights the fireworks have on our animals.
4. Absolutely avoid any form of punishment. This will simple lead to more anxiety and even cause your pet to become aggressive.
5. Comforting you animal when they are scared is a controversial area. Definitely try to be at home during any known firework events. Although you shouldnâ€™t pet or over fuss your animal when they are worried, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour, it may help some pets to hold them firmly and lean into them, while using long, firm massaging strokes, rather than normal petting.
6. Create a â€œsafe havenâ€ by covering an indoor crate with a blanket and put their bedding and one or two familiar toys inside. This will become a darkened den for them in which to hide, but itâ€™s a good idea to try to get them used to this area before firework season.
7. In many situations the most helpful method to help control firework phobias is through the use of a technique called desensitisation and counter conditioning. Essentially, this is getting your pets used to the sounds of fireworks by playing a CD at a volume that doesnâ€™t provoke a fearful reaction, and rewarding them for this non-reaction. The volume is gradually increased, and a strict programme followed over several weeks to months. This needs to be, therefore, started well before firework season and should not be undertaken if fireworks are likely to start soon. One of the most successful programs is Sounds Scary and is available through www.soundtherapy4pets.co.uk for less than Â£10. If your pet suffers from firework phobia we would strongly recommend purchasing this now and to start the program in the New Year once all the fireworks have finished, and to then consider repeating the program next summer.
8. Various medications are available to reduce our petsâ€™ anxieties. These medications are used alongside a behaviour modification plan such as the desensitisation and counter conditioning described above, and need to be started weeks or months prior to the fireworks starting. Often at the hospital we asked at the last minute to supply something to help to calm pets. Medications are available that reduce anxiety in the short term, and will help at the time but have no lasting effect â€“ your pet will again suffer with the same fears next year. A key point for owners is not to be scared to use these drugs. By not medicating animals when appropriate we may be simply prolonging their suffering.
9. Pheromone treatments area available such as Adaptil. These are available as a plug-in and collar and Â may help some dogs. We alsoÂ now stockÂ PetÂ RemedyÂ plug-in’s that contains a blend of essentialsÂ oils thatÂ areÂ Valerian based.
10. Dietary supplements such as zylkeneÂ may help some dogs with mild phobias.
11. It is now possible to purchase a tight fighting wrap such as an Anxiety Wrap which is design to apply constant pressure to help relax muscles. Studies suggest these may help some, but not all, dogs. They are available through www.anxietywrap.com.
12. To date there has been no study which has successfully shown any definite beneficial effect for behavioural change for any homeopathic treatment studied in companion animals.
The expected outcome for helping animals with firework phobia should be good if we follow and commit to a thorough desensitisation program. This will take time and patience. It has also been recognised that many animals who suffer with firework phobia also experience other behavioural issues such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder or Separation Anxiety. If you feel this may apply to you and if you are truly committed to your animalâ€™s emotional well-being, there are many qualified people to help both you and your pet. Donâ€™t be frightened to ask for help!
Some of you may already know our nurse, Caroline Stevens from our Cat Clinic at Stoke Road. She has been instrumental in us gaining International Society of Feline Medicineâ€™s Cat Friendly Clinic Silver award, ensuring a calm environment for your cats to be treated.
For the last two years, alongside her hard work in the practice, Caroline has been studying for the RCVS Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, which we are pleased to inform you she has recently passed.
The Diploma is an advanced post-registration qualification which involved a combination of modules that she studied both on study weekends at Myerscough College and distance learning. Caroline selected clinical modules that reflected her interests, which included anaesthesia, medical nursing and surgical nursing.
Caroline will of course be able to apply her learning to her role as Clinical Coach for our nursing students.
We, as a practice, actively encourage continuous professional development and encourage personal growth across the whole practice team.
Congratulations, Caroline Stevens BSc(Hons) RVN DipAVN Dip HE CVN SQP
Over the course of the year, we have sought to expand our team of veterinary surgeons. No, we donâ€™t mean feeding them more chocolate, but increasing the quantity, and experience.
Joe Barrington has been with us in a part-time capacity for a year now, but became full time at the beginning of summer. Throughout university and since graduating he has had a strong interest in diagnostic imaging and dog behaviour. He is currently studying ultrasonography. Joe is shown below performing surgery on a horse in a previous practice.
Tiago Bispo started earlier in the year, initially to cover Anjaâ€™s maternity leave. Tiagoâ€™s area of interest is cardiology. He consultsÂ mostly at Stoke Road, but sadly will be leaving us to start an internship at a referral centre later this year.Â It is a fantastic opportunity for him and we wish him well.
Carl Jarrett qualified in 1997 at Pretoria University in South Africa. After qualifying, he returned to the UK to work in small animal practice. Carl has a strong interest in both soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery and worked in Australia for 7 years, learning and becoming proficient at advanced orthopaedic procedures. Here is Carl with some of his own pets on his smallholding.
Having high calibre staff is important to us, enabling us to provide the very best care possible for you and your pets. They regularly partake in continuing professional development as required by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and have regular team meetings within the practice to keep abreast of changes in practice policy.
However, as important as it is that our vets and nurses are highly qualified, equally, if not more important, is that they are caring and compassionate. We really feel that they look after their patients as if they are their own.
As you know we currently recommend vaccination for rabbits against Myxomatosis and VHD-1 (viral haemorrhagic disease). There has been a lot of concern in the rabbit press about a new strain of VHD (VHD-2) which the current vaccination does not protect against and causes sudden death in rabbits. There is a vaccine available for commercial rabbits on the continent and we are able to import a small supply for our pets but it does not have a UK licence. It can be given from 6 weeks of age but should not be given at the same time as the routine vaccines. It needs to be repeated every 6 months to maintain protection. As the vaccine comes in a multidose vial which has to be discarded 2 hours after opening we are hoping to group appointments together for those rabbit clients who wish their pets to have this vaccine so as to minimise waste and vaccinate as many rabbits as possible for a reasonable price. The cost of the vaccine is Â£25 (including VAT) If you are interested in having this vaccine please contact us on 01908 397777 so we can add you to our list. Once we receive our stock we will contact you to book into one of our sessions and arrange payment. It is very important only to book a slot when you are definitely available as otherwise your dose will have to be discarded. Please remember that VHD-2 is not yet common in the UK, and so the risk to your rabbit remains minimal. Myxomatosis still remains the biggest risk to pet rabbits in the UK.Â Please ensure your rabbits have been vaccinated against Myxomatosis disease in the past 12 months. Further, and regularly updated information can be found on the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund website blog here: http://rabbitwelfare.blogspot.co.uk/