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Pesticides found in flea treatments are contaminating English rivers, study finds
The study outlines a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of flea treatments on the environment.

Concentrations found in some samples far exceeded accepted safe limits

Researchers at the University of Sussex have found widespread contamination of English rivers with fipronil and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, two pesticides commonly used in veterinary flea products.

According to the VMD, these chemicals, which are banned for agricultural use as a result of their negative environmental effects, are found in 87 licensed veterinary products either alone or in combination with other parasiticides. Products include spot-on solutions, sprays and collars.

Professor Dave Goulson and Dr Rosemary Perkins from the University of Sussex analysed 3,861 water samples collected by the Environment Agency in 20 English rivers from 2016-2018.

They found fipronil in 98 per cent of freshwater samples, with the average concentration exceeding safety thresholds fivefold.

The researchers also detected imidacloprid in 66 per cent of samples. In seven out of the 20 rivers sampled, this chemical was found to pose a high environmental risk.

Dr Perkins said: “Fipronil is one of the most commonly used flea products, and recent studies have shown that it degrades to compounds that are more persistent in the environment, and more toxic to most insects, than fipronil itself.

“Our results, showing that fipronil and its toxic breakdown products are present in nearly all of the freshwater samples tested, are extremely concerning.”

The study – published in Science of the Total Environment – shows that the highest levels of pollution were detected immediately downstream of wastewater treatment works, suggesting waterways may be being contaminated by the chemicals being washed down household drains.

Dr Perkins concluded: “We’ve identified a number of steps that can be taken to minimise or avoid environmental harm from pet flea and/or tick treatments. These range from introducing stricter prescription-only regulations, to considering a more judicious and risk-based approach to the control of parasites in pets, for example by moving away from blanket year-round prophylactic use.

“We’d recommend a re-evaluation of the environmental risks posed by pet parasite products, and a reappraisal of the risk assessments that these products undergo prior to regulatory approval.”

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Boehringer Ingelheim to host online Christmas comedy special

News Story 1
 Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) Animal Health is set to host a live Christmas comedy event to provide entertainment and festive fun for veterinary professionals.

BI Animal Health's Christmas Comedy Cracker is a free online event, designed to help veterinary professionals sit back and relax at the end of what has been a difficult year for the whole profession.

The event will take place online at 8pm on Thursday 17 December. Comedian Rhys James will host and the line-up also includes ventriloquist Nina Conti, comedian Zoe Lyons and musical comedy troupe The Noise Next Door.

To register your place for free please visit www.christmascomedycracker.co.uk 

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News Shorts
VMD and VPS announce joint open information day

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) have announced a joint open information day covering topics such as veterinary medicines regulations, antimicrobial resistance, scientific advice and novel therapies.

Taking place on Wednesday 18 November, the virtual event will take the form of a series of pre-recorded webinars and a 'Slido' Q&A session. Links to the webinars and full instructions on how to use Slido will be available on gov.uk on 18 November. To join the mailing list for the event, email director.support@vmd.gov.uk