Tails on the Trail – a vet’s stories from the road

Travelling opens the door to synchrony and serendipity. Instant rapport and intense connections can blossom with strangers newly met, regardless of the perceived barriers of race, gender, culture, religion – or species.

On the last day of a two month South American trip, Dorian was looking for a leafy hollow where he could finally lay to rest his leather hiking boots. For a decade they had served him well on extensive treks around the world but the last few weeks hiking in Argentina had finally proved too much.

It was a sunny yet crisp spring day as he left the outskirts of San Martin de los Andes. Two dogs bounded into view, following him as he stepped onto a dirt track. He eyed them warily. Street dogs in South America have a reputation of bailing up lone hikers and these two were large enough to pose a potential threat. But they seemed more intent on play, wrestling and chasing each other around the trees and across the field. Dorian watched them for a while then resumed his search. A little way off the track he found a grassy hollow beneath a boulder at the edge of a forest. It was the perfect resting place and a fitting tribute to a faithful old pair of hiking boots. Carefully positioning them side by side he placed a yellow wildflower in each boot and reflected on the wild and beautiful landscapes they had trod. Continue reading Tails on the Trail – a vet’s stories from the road

Owner rejects horse deaths finding 

The owner of 22 horses which died on a southeast Queensland property has questioned a finding that scrub ticks or botulism probably caused the deaths.

Steve Hogno said tests of horse-hair samples sent to a US laboratory had turned up high levels of heavy metals including manganese and zinc, among others.

“They’re saying they’ve got some of the highest levels of heavy metals they’ve even seen,” Hogno told AAP. “Now we’ve got to try and find out where they’ve come from.”

The US laboratory had indicated that ingestion of a toxic weed or outside intervention could have caused the high metal levels, Hogno said, and that he did not know why Biosecurity Queensland had reached such a drastically different conclusion. Continue reading Owner rejects horse deaths finding 

Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Anna Bligh.

Anna Bligh.

The Queensland Government had made significant changes to the way it handled Hendra virus outbreaks well before the ombudsman released a critical report, Premier Anna Bligh said.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke’s report highlighted inadequate communication between veterinarians and horse owners.

Clarke said systemic failures had hampered the Labor government’s response to six Hendra outbreaks between June 2006 and October 2009.

The report, released early this month, identified outdated policies and procedures, and overlapping legislation that led to inconsistent quarantine practices.

Training and resources for government agency staff, contractors and property owners were lacking.

Records of decisions made were also inadequate and there was a poor framework for compensation payments

Bligh said the report analysed how historic cases were handled, and ignored how government agencies had responded to the most recent incidents.

“They date back several years and there’s been a very significant shift in the way the matter’s being dealt with now,” she said.

“Nevertheless, when things like this happen you learn from it.”

Clarke found some Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries staff had imposed quarantines contrary to law, and were uncertain about what personal protective equipment to use and how to employ it.

The report dealt with 18 horses which died or were euthanased, two vets who died from Hendra, and a third vet who contracted the virus but recovered. Continue reading Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history

The Rinderpest virus

The Rinderpest virus. (Picture Rajnish Kaushik)

Scientists are confident that the acute viral disease rinderpest, that has devastated cattle and their keepers for thousands of years, has been eradicated world-wide.

The eradication is being heralded as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and is expected to save countless lives in some of the poorest countries of the world.

The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has suspended efforts to track the disease and expects to make an official announcement that the virus has been wiped off the face of the planet at the World Organisation for Animal Health meeting in May next year.

It will be only the second time in history that a devastating viral disease has been eradicated, the first being the human disease smallpox in 1980.

In its progress report on the global effort to eradicate rinderpest, released in October, the FAO said the dreaded virus was now believed to be extinct.

The last known outbreak occurred in 2001 in Kenya. In 2006 vaccinations for the virus stopped and field operations ceased earlier this year.

Australia has been free of the disease for more than eighty years after an outbreak involving 28 cattle herds near Fremantle in Western Australia was brought under control in 1923. Continue reading Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history