ASAVA names 2014′s Practitioner of the Year

The Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association has announced that the 2014 Practitioner of the Year is Mary Porter, a clinician in Sydney.

The award did not surprise Porter’s colleagues, who applauded her diagnostic and psychological skills and said, “She enjoys complex cases, listens to her clients and likes to give emotional support to owners.”

Porter graduated from the University of Sydney in 1979 with first class honors and the university medal. Despite encouragement to pursue an academic career, Porter chose to work with Henry Hirschhorn and Graham Lester at Pittwater Animal Hospital. She worked with Hirschhorn and Lester for the next 8 years reminiscing that “their thoughtful encouragement helped develop my enthusiasm for general practice and surgery – they were wonderful.”

While still a young practitioner, Porter became a Member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Canine Medicine, now the Small Animal Medicine chapter.

In 1987, Porter moved to Canberra. She began research under the late Bede Morris at the John Curtin School of Medical Research on splitting lamb embryos and investigating their immunological disparities while working with David Pembrey at Wanniassa Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Although research proved successful, Porter found her passion lay in clinical practice.

In 1989, she returned to Sydney and moved to Chatswood Veterinary Clinic with Fiona Smith and a team of “wonderful supportive colleagues.” Continue reading ASAVA names 2014′s Practitioner of the Year

Large animal experience a boon to students

Branding at Berrigurra

Branding on-sit at AACC property Berrigurra gave The University of Queensland students the opportunity to get hands-on with large animals as part of their training to become vets.

The national rural veterinary crisis is being actively addressed by Australian Agricultural College Corporation with hands-on training for students at its Berrigurra property.

In a partnership with Queensland University, 22 Bachelor of Veterinary Science students in second and third year have spent two weeks getting hands-on with large animals.

In an industry where 90 per cent of graduates are female and the average age of a rural vet is 50, there is a serious need for young blood, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Primary Industry Beef Extension Officer, John Bertram said.
“This program gets students who have a career vision of working in a small animal clinic with cats and dogs, out to the bush working on a large beef cattle property, doing things like preg testing, branding and working with horses,” he said. Continue reading Large animal experience a boon to students

Crimson Post

The crimson sunbird is an extremely small nectar feeding bird found as a resident throughout Asia. It is tiny, fast, efficient and extremely vibrantly coloured, a true reflection of the country that it represents.

Singapore is the smallest island nation in Asia and with its strategic location; it functions as a centralised trading zone, allowing Singapore to grow rapidly since its independence in 1959.

Singapore is also a melting pot of cultures with the 5 million population made up primarily of the three major ethnic races, Chinese, Malay and Indian. The vibrant mix of cultures and traditions has a major role in the treatment and attitudes toward the domestic and stray population of animals in a highly urbanised developed country.

The veterinarians here in Singapore are almost 100 per cent small animal practitioners, all of whom have graduated overseas, about 85 per cent calling Australian universities their alma mater. Vastly different to our neighbouring countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand) where rural mixed practice and agriculture still predominate.

The 48 veterinary private practices with no registered small animal specialists, this is a highly unique situation where the veterinary community is small, energetic and always having to think outside the box. Continue reading Crimson Post

Essay: Decreasing stress, aggression and injury in pigs housed in intensive production systems

Introduction
Animal welfare issues are inherent in any intensive production system that restricts animals to an environment incompatible with their behavioural needs (D’Eath & Turner, 2009). For example, intensive husbandry practices, such as a mix of pigs in a confined space, can result in significant stress reactions and displays of aggressive behaviour through frustration or restriction of natural behaviour (Guy et al., 2009; Yonezawa et al., 2009). This paper will discuss the use of pig-appeasing pheromone (PAP) to reduce aggression and social stress generally, and the importance of tail posture in predicting incidents of tail-biting injury in post-weaning piglets.
Continue reading Essay: Decreasing stress, aggression and injury in pigs housed in intensive production systems

Transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils

Figure 1.

The Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest marsupial carnivore, is facing possible extinction in the wild due to a transmissible facial cancer known as Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) (Figure 1). DFTD is spread when living cancer cells are spread between animals by biting. In DFTD, the living cancer cell itself is the infectious agent of disease and it remains unclear why these cancer cells are not detected and rejected by the devil’s immune system. The distressing plight of the Tasmanian devil has drawn attention to the existence of transmissible cancers, parasitic cancers spread by the transfer of living cancer cells between hosts. However, it remains a surprisingly little-known fact that the only other transmissible cancer that bears any resemblance to DFTD is a dog cancer that is right under our noses here in Australia.

Canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) is one of the world’s most remarkable cancers. It is a transmissible cancer that affects dogs worldwide. Usually spread during coitus, the disease is most prevalent in areas with large numbers of free-roaming sexually active dogs. The tumour affects both male and female animals, and appears to affect dogs of any breed. CTVT generally manifests itself in the appearance of tumours in and around the genital area, often at the base of the penis in males and in the vulva of females. Starting as small shiny pink/grey lesions, the tumours can progress to become very large and multi-lobulated (Figure 2). The tumour may aggressively invade surrounding tissues and become ulcerated and secondarily infected. However, a combination of surgical debulking and chemotherapy (using vincristine) is often curative.

Figure 2

Genetic studies have provided strong evidence that CTVT is in fact one living cancer cell line that has spread worldwide with dogs. Thus all CTVT tumours are derived from a single original tumour that arose once and has been transmitted through the dog population as a clone. The tumour itself bears closest genetic resemblance to wolves, suggesting that this tumour may have first arisen in a wolf before hitch-hiking its way into dogs through sexual contact. Genetic evidence suggests that the tumour may in fact be quite old, and that the original wolf that gave rise to the tumour may have even lived thousands of years ago. CTVT is by far the oldest known continuously growing cancer in the world. Continue reading Transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils