22 e-Letters

  • In memory of Michelle

    In memory of Michelle Smithers, a crowdfunding page has been set up for her son Jack, as well as a fundraising page for the hospice that helped care for her when she became too ill to work. The links are below.


    If you wish to donate to St Peter’s Hospice please use the link below:


    Michelle Smithers was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and, following a double mastectomy, underwent over 12 months of gruelling treatment. Sadly, in the latter part of 2018, the cancer returned and quickly spread through her bones and organs. Despite constant pain, radical surgery on her spine, numerous different chemotherapy treatments, each time facing the oncologist with hope, yet finding the cancer had continued to spread, Michelle never complained. She continued to fight and pushed herself to ensure that her son, Jack, had as many possible memories as she could provide. On 9 August, Michelle's top wish came true as she married Jack's Dad - her long-term partner and soulmate - Mark. Tragically, weeks later, Michelle passed away.

    Jack recently turned 15 and is in his final year of GCSEs at...

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  • Biased Article

    This article is heavily biased against racing. Not only just that he refers back to 14 years ago, when an unprecedented number of horses died at the Festival, he is cherry picking the bad news. Understanding the fatalities has to be about percentages of runners to fatalities to put fair perspective on the numbers.
    Racehorses have traceability, they are all chipped and registered with Weatherby's so easily identified, and every race run is televised to the public. There's not a single other equine discipline that does that.
    Given the failure of so many horses to make the grade because of unsoundness in the disciplines of show jumping, eventing and dressage, I suggest the author makes effort to find those numbers and percentages, and then compare. I'd also suggest he updates his knowledge regarding the husbandry of racehorses these days. The majority of yards use turnout, and the feeding is not quite as mediaeval as he seems to suggest. There are plenty of dressage yards where horses never leave the box except to be drilled in circles.
    Without the funding put into racing, and the research into the well being of racehorses, it's likely equine veterinary science would not be as advanced across the board as it is now.
    As the author's expertise seems to be based in canine, not equine fields, perhaps he could use his time and webspace to help stop dog fighting, to search out real welfare issues, rather than indulge some personal a...

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  • COVID-19, pet, owner, diagnosis and transmission

    I read the publication with a great interest [1]. It is interesting to recognize the ideas of the pets' owners regarding possiblity of COVID-19 during outbreak. Whether the pet can get infection and whether there is an intertransmission of disease between pet and owner are important issue in public health. At present, there are evidences only infection in some patients who own pets and detection of virus in some pets [2] but there is still a lack for proof for disease transmission process from owner to pet or pet to owner. At noted by Watson et al., the diagnosis is very important. The important consideration of diagnosis is the sample collection and quality of the diagnostic test. The difference of background condition betrween animal and human beings might cause possible diffrerent on diagnositc property of the diagnostic test kit. The human based diagnostic test kit might be limited aplied for animal diagnosis.

    Conflict of interest

    1. Watson KM, Zhang Y, Towns K, Kahe K. Owner concerns that pets have Covid-19. Vet Rec. 2020 Jun 13;186(18):608-609. doi: 10.1136/vr.m2249.
    2. Sailleau C, Dumarest M, Vanhomwegen J, Delaplace M, Caro V, Kwasiborski A, Hourdel V, Chevaillier P, Barbarino A, Comtet L, Pourquier P, Klonjkowski B, Manuguerra JC, Zientara S, Le Poder S. First detection and genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in an infected cat in France.Transbound Emerg Dis. 2020 Jun 5:10.1111/tbed.13659.

  • Memories of Michael Woodford by Richard Jones of Avian Veterinary Services in Cheshire

    I recently read with sadness in Vet Record the obituary for Michael Henry Woodford, excellently written by Richard Kock, William B. Karesh and Philippe Chardonnet, documenting his inspiring life and work in the fields of veterinary medicine and conservation.
    As a practising veterinary surgeon and obsessive falconer, I just wanted to add to the list of his many publications, his wonderful book 'A Manual of Falconry' first published in 1960, which has become a 'Bible' for falconers worldwide and helped introduce countless young aspiring falconers, myself included, to the joys of this ancient way of life. In fact, in the magical Ken Loach film 'Kes', it is this very book that Billy Casper 'borrows' from the library to teach himself the art!
    I was fortunate enough to meet Michael in his latter years, and although it is said that you shouldn't meet your heroes, I am certainly glad I did as he was extremely kind in sharing his stories. A signed copy of his book remains one of my most treasured possessions.

  • Response to "Hong Kong does have an ethical research system"

    I welcome the response to my letter “Will Hong Kong ever have an ethical research system (VR, 4/11 January 2020, vol 186, p 33) by Cheng and Rowlands (Cheng, K., Rowlands, D. (2020) Hong Kong does have an ethical research system Veterinary Record 186, 128)
    However, their title is misleading for it implies that the high standards the University of Hong Kong (HKU) voluntarily adhere to in some way represent the standards and behaviours of the other universities of Hong Kong (HK). My 20 years of experience in HK tell me otherwise. As co-editor of HK’s Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes (CoP), as a former chairperson of HK’s Animal Welfare Advisory Group and as HK’s first appointed Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care ad hoc consultant I have been fortunate (or possibly unfortunate) enough to observe the ethical review practices of six of HK’s tertiary institutions. During my most recent experiences in HK I have witnessed firsthand poor research practices that resulted in unnecessary suffering of animals and unsafe laboratory work practices that jeopardized the safety of animal care staff, yet these projects were approved by an ethical review committee that in no way complied with HK’s own CoP.
    Because of my 20 years of experience and the privileged position I have held within HK’s laboratory animal research sector I unreservedly disagree with Cheng and Rowlands’ assertion that my experie...

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  • Routine screening of cats for COVID-19: Is it necessary?

    In a recent letter, Xiangdong Li (VR, April 2020, vol 186, pp 457-458) summarized the occurrence of COVID-19 in cats and other domestic animals [1]. Recently the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) reported two cases of COVID-19 infection in pet cats [2]. As of now, a total of four cases have been reported in cats around the world; Hong Kong (1), Belgium (1), and New York (2) [1, 2]. Even though experimental inoculation of SARS-CoV-2 did not produce any clinical signs, infected cats were able to transmit the disease to other susceptible cats via respiratory droplets [3]. The increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in cats should be considered as a concern even if there are no reports of animal-to-human transmission.
    Two small scale serological investigations have been conducted in the domestic cat populations till now, one in China and another in France [4, 5]. The serological survey conducted in Wuhan, China, reported that 11 out of the total 102 cats tested had SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies [4]. In the serological survey conducted in France, a total of 9 cats that are living in close contact with their owners were tested. Even though the owners were tested positive for COVID-19, none of the cats were infected that was evident from the negative RT-PCR and serological test results [5]. Since it is very difficult to obtain a general conclusion from these serological surveys, further investigations are required.
    The number of laboratory-confirme...

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  • Elective neutering: essential or non-essential procedure?

    Elective neutering: essential or non-essential procedure?

    In a recent letter, Helen O’Hare (VR, 4/11 April 2020, vol 186, pp 456) raised his concern over the classification of neutering as a non-essential procedure during the current COVID-19 pandemic.1 The reason for such a classification might be due to the fact that “neutering” is and always considered as an elective procedure that does not have any emergency component. Also, such a classification will limit the use of personal protective equipments thereby conserving this much essential commodity that is needed by medical professionals working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the event of a possible mis-mating, neutering has to be considered as an emergency procedure.
    Hence even though “elective neutering” should be classified as a non-essential procedure, the power of decision should be vested in the hands of the practicing vets so that a case-to-case decision can be made without jeopardizing the animal welfare aspects. Taking into consideration the oncoming breeding season, I urge the authorities to reconsider the decision of classifying neutering as a non-essential procedure. Further clarification is needed in the terms “neutering” “elective neutering” and “emergency neutering” to prevent the compromise of animal welfare aspects.


    1. O’Hare H. Should neutering be classed as essential?. Veterinary Record. 2020 Apr 18;186(14):458.

  • Response to Veterinary Management of C-19

    Dear authors,

    What an excellent article. I cannot but wish it were written in a medical journal also. It seems as though we have so much expertise to offer, part of the reason for One Health advocacy that is so needed. We need the medical audience to come around to this.
    My entire doctoral thesis was based on Interprofessional Education that includes One Health for MD as well as other allied health professional students. Education may be the only way to advocate OH for the next generation in pandemic mitigation.


    Roopnarine, Rohini (2020) Factors That Influence the Development of Interprofessional Education and One Health for Medical, Veterinary and Dual Degree Public Health Students at an Offshore Medical School. Doctor of Education thesis, University of Liverpool.
    Retrieved from https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/3073226/

  • Memories of Bob Ordidge by Jonathan Anderson BVM&S DipACVS MRCVS

    It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bob Ordidge on 22 December 2019, aged 74.
    A pioneer and legend in the equine veterinary field over the course of his 50-year career, he was particularly known for his contribution to the field of equine surgery. The racehorse, hunting and general horse owning fraternities hugely benefited from Bob’s pragmatic and intelligent approach. In the years that saw a huge expansion of surgical capabilities within the equine veterinary field, Bob took a leading role. Always interested in new techniques, he was self-effacing about his own incredible surgical skills and ready to push boundaries. He set up and grew the veterinary practice that is now Rainbow Equine Hospital (REH) from humble beginnings as Ordidge and Pritchard in Rainbow Lane, Old Malton, North Yorkshire.
    A part of the team here at REH all his working life, Bob will be sorely missed by all those who had the privilege of working with and alongside him throughout his amazing career, and we know that his legacy lives on in many of the veterinarians who had the benefit of his keen mind and practical, no-nonsense, truly Yorkshire approach.

  • TB testers: the pursuit of excellence

    The TB tester audit information detailed in the recent correspondence from XL Farmcare UK suggests that the vast majority of TB testing in this country is currently being carried out to a very high standard and is another small but significant positive news story from the bovine TB battle front.
    The incidence of confirmed slaughterhouse cases (another indirect measure of the quality of on farm TB testing) has also been declining with a 40% reduction over the last 5 years (DEFRA statistics).
    Having been TB testing for four decades, it is my observation that recent changes in the training of new TB testers and the introduction of regular on farm TB audits by XL Farmcare UK and APHA, have both been significant factors in pushing up the quality of TB testing in England and Wales to the current high levels. Some of the audits are unannounced but all have been collaborative and when deficits in technique are identified, the XL Farmcare auditors, who are experienced in testing themselves, have also been offering coaching to help ensure confidence in the correct technique.
    This outcome is particularly commendable, as those that are now performing this task at a high standard, are often working in conditions on farm that are less than ideal.
    In my opinion, the challenges today are how to maintain these high standards, how to improve the level of health & safety expectations on farm during a TB test, and for APHA to start to recognise the value of...

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