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Consortium to assess diagnostic decision making
As diagnostic technology improves, its relationship to prescription and treatment requires social, governance and technical innovations.

Research will generate better understanding of new technologies

A consortium of seven academics is set to address how diagnostics can encourage more responsible antibiotic use in animals.

Led by social scientists at the University of Exeter, the team includes colleagues from the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the BVA and leading farm animal vets across the UK.

The project has come about as the result of a £1.75 million grant funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, working in partnership with the Department of Health and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It forms part of the cross-council initiative ‘Tackling antimicrobial resistance: behaviour within and beyond the healthcare setting’, supported by the seven research councils in partnership with other UK funders.

“This is an exciting opportunity to provide a current assessment of diagnostic and treatment decision practices in the livestock sectors of the UK,” commented project leader, Professor Henry Buller.

“Novel and innovative diagnostic tools are currently in development, and our research will generate better understanding of their development as well as the marketing and regulation of these new technologies.”

With increasing concerns over the rise of antimicrobial resistances, vets and farmers are doing their best to use medicines as responsibly as possible.

Improved diagnoses - driving shifts in behaviour associated with diagnostic decision making - represent a critical step to delivering more effective uses of antibiotic in animal health. But as diagnostic technology improves, its relationship to prescription and treatment requires social, governance and technical innovations.

Working with diagnostic tool developers, vets, farmers and government bodies, the team aims to develop durable and innovative strategies for facilitating smarter approaches to the use of antibiotics in agriculture.

The work will cover the major livestock species and will involve seeking opinions from veterinary surgeons across the country, through collaboration with the BVA.

Team member David Barrett from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to assess the adaptability and responsiveness of the different animal production sectors - poultry, pigs and cattle - along with a variety of veterinary structures to the trialled innovations in diagnosis and diagnostics, and will determine the likely benefits of these innovations for prescription practice, for animal health and for sustainable livestock production.”

The four-year project - ‘Diagnostic innovation and livestock (DIAL): towards more effective and sustainable applications of antibiotics in livestock farming’ - begins later this year.

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.