Veterinary visits to become mandatory in European farming

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK

The European Agriculture Council has formally approved a draft law on animal diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans (zoonoses).

Blog-farm visits1

The provisions in the law on farm animal health visits stipulate that professional animal owners are to receive regular animal health visits from a veterinarian for disease prevention, detection and biosecurity. This new piece of legislation aims to merge and update existing scattered directives and regulations into a single and coherent law.

It is announced as an important step forward, since visits by vets are the cornerstone of the ‘prevention is better than cure’ strategy and indispensable for the prevention and early detection of known and emerging transmissible diseases. The role of the veterinarian in achieving this is defined and highlighted. The veterinary profession also has an active part to play in raising awareness of animal health and of One Health, or the interaction between animal health, animal welfare and public health.

Continue reading

Five more bird species that can spread Lyme disease identified in USA

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent arthropod-borne disease of animals and humans in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere1. Risk of infection in humans is primarily associated with occupation (e.g. forestry work) or outdoor recreational activities.

BIRDS-LYME

Recent surveys show that the overall prevalence of Lyme disease may be stabilizing, but its geographical distribution is increasing. There are foci of Lyme borreliosis in forested areas of Asia, north-western, central and eastern Europe, and the USA. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne disease in the United States. It is most commonly diagnosed in the northeast and upper Midwest, especially Wisconsin and Minnesota. However, Lyme disease is spreading geographically, especially into Virginia and the southeastern United States. The CDC estimates that about 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, afflicting sufferers with flu-like symptoms. If not treated with antibiotics, the infection can cause inflammation of the joints and it can affect the heart and nervous system.

Continue reading

Migrants fleeing conflict: a trial run for mass-migration due to climate change

Refugees_Budapest_Keleti_railway_station_2015-09-04
Refugees, Budapest station, Hungary. Credit: Rebecca Harms
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
via Wikimedia Commons

 AS I write this I have a sense of déjà vu.
Public health professionals as far back as the 6th ECTMIH conference [2009], which I attended, recognised that very little was being done in Europe to address mass migration (at that time from Sub-Saharan Africa). Travel medicine specialists were refocusing their research onto migration and asking why this was not being reflected in travel medicine text books and journals.

“Does anyone ever ask if migrants suffer from diarrhoea?” asked Manuel Corachan [CRESIB, Spain], one of the plenary lecturers at the conference.  

At that time, Italy (conference host) was bearing the brunt of illegal migration. The conference debated the needs of illegal migrants to Italy, the importance to public health in the host country of giving them access to health services and of having an awareness of disease prevalence & cultural attitudes in the migrant’s home country.  In 2011, the  organisers of ECTMIH , the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH) devoted the entire conference to “global change, migration & health”. 

But this foresight was not just ethically driven, it was in expectation of mass migration into Europe due to climate change.

What we are now seeing, less than 6 years later, headlining our daily news and social media is a trial run for what is to come. What was previously perceived as a problem arising out of climate change has hit the EU earlier than might have been anticipated because of people fleeing conflict and dictatorship.

Continue reading

One of our invasive species in the mainstream media

Vespa velutina

Picture: ©Muséum de Toulouse/Didier Descouens-2013. CC BY-SA 3.0

Some of the species that are included in our open-access Invasive Species Compendium are well known to the general public, for example
Japanese Knotweed. Others are more obscure, and I had never heard of the
Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, until I
edited the datasheet about it earlier this year. I was therefore
interested to hear an item about it a few days ago on the Today programme, one of the best-known programmes on BBC
radio (you can listen to the item here).

Continue reading

7,500 Years of Cheese Making in Europe

M Djuric, Dairy Science Editor

Compelling evidence of cheese-making has been uncovered in prehistoric pottery sieves found in the Kuyavia region in Poland by researchers from Great Britain, Poland and the United States. The study has just been published online in Nature journal on 12 December 2012.

DairycowAn abundance of milk fats was detected in these specialized pottery vessels, comparable in form to modern cheese strainers, suggesting that humans have been making cheese in Europe for at least 7,500 years.  There is a possibility that cheese was made even at earlier times using other materials such as cloth or wooden cheese strainers, but these materials are more perishable and difficult to detect as archeological material.

Continue reading

British Vets Resist “Political Measures” to Restrict Veterinary Use of Antibiotics

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) marked the 5th European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November 2012) by releasing a statement in which it reaffirms its commitment to promoting responsible use of antibiotics, but also warns that political measures to reduce antimicrobial resistance in Europe and the UK are not based on sound science.

 

Pigblog

 

The statement lists activities undertaken and measures implemented by the BVA to promote responsible use of these medicines, including the BVA’s poster campaign for responsible use of antibiotics and the BVA’s membership of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, which contributes significantly to European-wide guidance on antimicrobial use. The BVA also successfully lobbied for responsible use of medicines to be enshrined in the new Code of Professional Conduct to which all vets in the UK must adhere.

Continue reading

Jumping the red light – Do consumers pay attention to nutritional labels?

There have been many labelling schemes to make clearer to consumers the healthiness of foods, such as traffic light codes with green for healthy and red for less healthy. But do consumers actually make use of the labels and choose healthier foods?Trafficlight2
In a paper in CAB Reviews, Sophie Hieke and Jo Wills of the European Food Information Council examine the recent evidence. A consistent finding is the “attitude-behaviour gap, meaning that consumers will say one thing and do another.” Some experiments suggest that people will try to avoid “red traffic-light” foods. However, a German study showed people could distinguish the healthiest drink using such a “traffic-light” coding system, but did not choose the healthy option when picking out their meal for the next day.

Continue reading