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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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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.