Making a difference

Georgina Grell
June 2017

Lord Soulsby died last month at the age of 90. Perhaps better known by veterinary surgeons than veterinary nurses, the lord of the worms, as he was affectionately known by his students, was an important figure in the veterinary profession. His amazing book Helminths, Arthropods and Protozoa of Domesticated Animals is one of those texts that is so well known it's usually referred to simply as ‘Soulsby’ (e.g. ‘have you checked in Soulsby?’). As early as the 1960s Lord Soulsby was advocating ‘One Medicine’, encouraging his colleagues and students to look at animal and human medicine as a continuum — a concept that is now known as One Health. One Health recognises that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It involves applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface. The veterinary profession and the medical profession working together. It is a current buzz word — but a concept that has been around thanks to Lord Soulsby for over 40 years.

Making a difference
Making a difference


Lord Soulsby died last month at the age of 90. Perhaps better known by veterinary surgeons than veterinary nurses, the lord of the worms, as he was affectionately known by his students, was an important figure in the veterinary profession. His amazing book Helminths, Arthropods and Protozoa of Domesticated Animals is one of those texts that is so well known it's usually referred to simply as ‘Soulsby’ (e.g. ‘have you checked in Soulsby?’). As early as the 1960s Lord Soulsby was advocating ‘One Medicine’, encouraging his colleagues and students to look at animal and human medicine as a continuum — a concept that is now known as One Health. One Health recognises that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It involves applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface. The veterinary profession and the medical profession working together. It is a current buzz word — but a concept that has been around thanks to Lord Soulsby for over 40 years.

In 1998 Lord Soulsby chaired the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee reporting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Nearly two decades ago the seriousness of AMR was already anticipated, and in 2001 Lord Soulsby worked with the World Health Organization to develop their first AMR plan. How wonderful it is to work in a profession and make such a difference.

Veterinary nurses also make a huge difference — to the experience of owners and pets visiting the veterinary practice. While the difference might not be on the scale of Lord Soulsby's it is still important.

AMR is an area in which all members of the team can make a difference. Antimicrobials are essential to veterinary and human medicine to treat infectious and zoonotic bacterial diseases, but inappropriate use could render them ineffective. The BVA have produced two posters, one on guidance on the responsible use of antimicrobials and one on the 7-point plan. Why not download two — one for your practice wall and one to take to your GP! (https://www.bva.co.uk/news-campaigns-and-policy/policy/medicines/antimicrobials/)

The human–animal bond is a strong and wonderful thing. When a pet dies or is lost it is felt acutely by the owners. This month many veterinary nurses have been involved in promoting Microchipping Awareness Month, which takes place each year in June. The message is getting across that it is now a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped, but what about cats? We could encourage cat owners to get their cats chipped! And other animals too — pet ferrets for example. Microchipping a pet can make all the difference when a pet is lost — provided of course the details on the database are kept up to date. Why not keep on promoting microchipping in practice throughout the year reminding pet owners that a microchip is only as good as the details on the database. A simple way to help prevent heartbreak.

Rabbit Awareness Week runs June 17–25th. Rabbits require a diet that is high in fibre and 85–90% of their diet should be made up of good quality, fresh hay. Rabbits also need a companion and space to run. These messages can be displayed in the waiting room, during RAW and beyond. Let's all make a difference by helping to educate the rabbit owners to give their rabbits a better life.

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