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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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Classroom pets on the decline

News Story 1
 New research has found there are fewer pets in UK classrooms than in previous generations - despite 88 per cent of parents believing it significantly helps a child’s social skills and development.

More than half of the parents surveyed by Pets at Home (51 per cent) had a class pet as a child, compared to 46 per cent of children today.

The survey also found that non-traditional animals such as chickens, tadpoles, caterpillars and stick insects are becoming increasingly popular alternatives as classroom pets.  

News Shorts
BVA survey seeks views on surveillance

Vets who use veterinary scanning surveillance networks are being asked to complete a survey to help ensure the networks are fully able to protect animals in the UK.

‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ is the first of a series of surveillance surveys that will also include localised surveys for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Drafted by members of BVA’s Surveillance Working Group, it will run until Friday, 31 August 2017. Data collected will inform BVA’s policy position ensuring it is representative of disease surveillance across the UK.