Welcome to the official web site of the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association, a professional organization representing veterinarians across Jamaica. We invite you to explore the site and see for yourself who we are and why we do what we do.
January 12, 2015
For the second time in 6 months, the veterinary community has been plunged into crisis as the local supplier of ketamine, the drug that is central to the function of companion animal and equine practice, has run out of stock. Some veterinarians have themselves run out of stock and have had to borrow from colleagues.
Ketamine, in combination with other drugs, is used for anesthesia for short and medium procedures, from the treatment of screwworm infestations, to spay/neuter and other surgical procedures. Its safety and reasonable cost make it the "work horse" of anaesthetics for most veterinary practices.
The drug has been in the news recently as a result of moves by some countries to have it reclassified by the international regulatory bodies because of human ketamine addiction and abuse. Such a move would greatly restrict access to the drug by both human and veterinary medical practitioners around the world and is being opposed by both communities.
For more information on the JVMA's position on Ketamine, please click HERE.
DISEASE OF THE WEEK
N.S.A.I.D. TOXICITY IN VULTURES - Are our John Crows at risk?
This brings the question as to whether our own Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), affectionately called the “John Crow” locally, might be at risk from the NSAID drugs used here. Banamine® is available here and is used by veterinarians in horses, ruminants and dogs. Other veterinary NSAIDS available here include phenylbutazone used mainly in horses, carprofen (Car-o-pet®) for dogs and tolfenamic acid (Tolfedine®) for dogs and cats. Some human drugs such as meloxicam (Mobic®) and nimesulide (Nise®) may also be prescribed on occasion for dogs. Veterinary diclofenac is not registered or known to be available in Jamaica and the human formulation in not normally prescribed for dogs because of the much greater risk of harmful side effects such as stomach ulceration and kidney damage when compared to canine-specific preparations.
The answer to the John Crow question appears to be a reassuring ‘no’. In a study of Turkey Vultures and diclofenac toxicity, published in the Journal of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry in 2008, it was determined that Turkey Vultures do not suffer the same toxic effects seen in the Old World Gyps sp. This study did not evaluate other NSAIDs, so some questions may remain. Also, the fact that NSAIDs are used in only a relatively small number of animals compared to the total population, and the practice of burying or incinerating carcasses suggest that the chance of exposure of our vultures to drug residues in carcasses they consume is very low.
1 - Barnett A., Rattner, Maria A., Whitehead, Grace,Gasper, Carol U., Meteyer, William A., Link, Mark A. , Taggart, Andrew A., Meharg, Oliver H., Pattee Deborah J., Pain, APPARENT TOLERANCE OF TURKEY VULTURES (CATHARTES AURA) TO THE NON-STEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUG DICLOFENAC, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 27, No. 11, pp. 2341–2345, 2008
2 - J. Lindsay Oaks, Martin Gilbert, Munir Z. Virani, Richard T. Watson, Carol U. Meteyer, Bruce A. Rideout, H. L. Shivaprasad, Shakeel Ahmed, Muhammad Jamshed Iqbal Chaudhry, Muhammad Arshad, Shahid Mahmood, Ahmad Ali & Aleem Ahmed Khan Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan NATURE | VOL 427 | 12 FEBRUARY 2004
3 - Zorrilla, I., Martinez, R., Taggart, M. A. & Richards, N. Suspected flunixin poisoning of a wild Eurasian Griffon Vulture from Spain Conserv. Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12417 (2014).
For an article from the Windsor Research Centre in Trelawny on our Turkey Vultures , click HERE.
The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), specifically diclofenac, in food-producing animals in countries such as India and Pakistan has had a devastating spin-off effect which has affected ecosystem health in those countries. Drug residues the in carcasses of previously treated animals have resulted in the decimation of populations of various species of vultures of the genus Gyps.
Diclofenac, which is registered for human use in Jamaica under the trade names Voltaren® and Cataflam® among others, has been determined to cause acute renal failure and resultant visceral gout (deposition of uric acid crystals in the internal organs) in Gyps sp. In India and Pakistan, diclofenac is also marketed for veterinary use in livestock, and is apparently widely available and used. Animals that die are generally left to decompose in the open resulting in their consumption by the scavenging birds. Massive die-offs of vultures has resulted in some species being on the brink of extinction in the region.
There is some evidence that other NSAIDs such as flunixin meglumine (Banamine®) can also be toxic to Gyps sp. In 2014, a dead Eurasian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) was found to have died of visceral gout and was found to have significant levels of flunixin in its tissues – the first case of NSAID toxicity in a vulture outside of Asia.
World Antibiotic Awareness Week - November 14 - 20, 2015
The vast majority of antibiotics are prescription only items, to be dispensed and used according to the instructions of a licensed physician or dentist for humans, or veterinarian for animals. These medical practitioners must all endeavour to prescribe these drugs responsibly and appropriately. Their patients, be they human or animal need to take the course of treatment as prescribed – no more, no less – unless otherwise instructed by their doctor. Regulatory agencies need to ensure that proper checks and balances are in place regarding the distribution of these drugs.
In the veterinary sector, antibiotic use is essential in the treatment of infections in animals, whether companion or food-producing. Drugs for food producing animals carry a withdrawal period – which is the length of time after the last treatment with the drug in which the food generated from that animal, whether meat or milk becomes safe for human consumption, that is, the animal’s system becomes clear of residues of the drug. To ensure safety, both meat and milk can and are tested for antibiotic residues.
In Jamaica, although the variety of veterinary-specific antibiotics available is very small when compared to our human counterparts, the JVMA strongly advocates for the responsible use of these drugs by our members and the animal-owning public. We must all play our role in protecting this vital part of our health care arsenal. We call on all regulators, prescribers and users of antibiotics to use this week to educate themselves on the issue, and put what they learn into practice. Antibiotics: Handle With Care!
Please click HERE for a release from the World Veterinary Association.
Please click HERE for a Fact Sheet from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
The Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA) joins in the global observation of Antibiotic Awareness Week. Antibiotics and antimicrobial drug resistance is a major One Health issue facing the broad heath sector.
The development of antibiotics was one of the seminal achievements in medicine in the 20th century. Since the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 and its first use to treat infections in 1942, a wide spectrum of classes of antimicrobial drugs have been developed, enabling health professionals to effectively treat bacterial infections that would otherwise have had serious or deadly consequences for the people and animals they affected.
But, unfortunately, bacteria have the capability through genetic diversity and mutation, to develop resistance to these drugs, and the more they have been used, the more resistant strains of these organisms have been emerging. Consequently, we are once again facing a possible future in which these infections will once again be able to take both human and animal lives with impunity. That is…unless action is taken by ALL involved in using antibiotics.
Disaster Management, Livestock and Livelihoods - L.E.G.S.
In responding to disasters, whether natural or man-made, most of the emphasis has naturally been placed on the alleviation of human loss and suffering. The internationally accepted standards and guidelines for such activities are found in the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response - also called SPHERE - handbook. A significant part of the potential losses and recovery needs in disasters is the livestock sector, seen both from the standpoint of animal welfare AND the role of livestock in the livelihoods of the people affected.
Enter LEGS - the Livestock Emergency Guidelines & Standards - a set of international guidelines and standards for designing, implementing and evaluation livestock interventions to help people affected by humanitarian crises - designed to be complementary to SPHERE.
The objectives of LEGS are (i) to provide rapid assistance, (ii) to protect livestock assets and (iii) to rebuild livestock assets using two key strategies of identifying the most appropriate interventions needed in an emergency and providing the standards, key actions and guidance notes for these interventions. These are detailed in the LEGS handbook, the second edition of which has recently been released.
LEGS training is being implemented worldwide through workshops led by certified LEGS trainers who attended "Training the Trainers" workshops held in various regions of the world. Jamaica's certified trainers are Dr. Suzan McLennon-Miguel of the Veterinary Services Division, Dr. Dailion Robinson-White of RADA, Mr. Delroy Manya, retired VSD Animal Health Technician, and Mr. Dwight Williams of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bodles. They have, thus far, held two training sessions here, in September and October 2015 respectively, for persons involved in the livestock sector and/or disaster management.
JVMA meets with Ministry of Education to discuss Government's decision to end UWI veterinary student funding
Veterinary Medical students at the UWI-SVM (Photo - Dr. Julie-Anne Small
Representatives of the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association met on Wednesday September 30, 2015 with representatives ofthe Ministry of Education regarding the Government's decision to remove the 85% fee subsidy for students studying veterinary medicine and dentistry at the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine campus in Trinidad as of the new 2015 – 16 academic year. The change was brought to the Association's attention because of the plight of six students who, having been accepted by the UWI-SVM, were only informed of the change during their registration process.
In a letter to the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Clement Sankat, dated May 5th, 2015, the Ministry of Education explained that the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar versus its United States counterpart has made it increasingly difficult for the Government to meet the financial obligation. The Cabinet, on March 30, 2015, approved the decision to end the 85% funding of new veterinary and dental students. Those already enrolled in their respective programmes would still be funded to completion with the caveat that the costs of re-examination due to any “failure or negligence” would have to be borne by the student, and progress reports would be required.
However, in an article in the Sunday Gleaner of September 20, 2015, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education is quoted as saying that the reason for the change is that the graduates have not been returning to give service to Jamaica on completion of their studies. This premise is unequivocally false as since 1995, there have been 57 UWI-SVM graduates registered to practice in Jamaica. Though some have left at some point to do further studies or take up employment elsewhere, some 41 are still resident in the island and working in both the public and private sectors. Four SVM graduates returned in 2015, six in 2014.
The JVMA is very concerned at this removal of the subsidy as it does not bode well for the future of the veterinary profession in Jamaica. Unlike our dental colleagues who have two local institutions accessible to prospective students, there is no institution offering a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programme in Jamaica. We understand the financial constraints faced by the Government, but believe the idea of dispensing with the funding of veterinary medical training is misplaced.
In this era of emerging and re-emerging disease threats, the need for increased food safety and security, and greater multi-disciplinary collaboration in managing human, animal and environmental health, we cannot afford for an already under-represented arm of the overall health sector to be further weakened in the long term.
The September 30th meeting was cordial and enlightening for both sides, with the Government's difficult financial position being elucidated while at the same time the error in the Ministry's perception that veterinary graduates are not returning to serve the country was corrected.
The urgent matter of the six new students, currently in limbo at the UWI-SVM in Trinidad was discussed, but the level of assistance the Ministry was prepared to give could not be confirmed.
Options to ensure continued but structured support for Jamaican students to pursue recognized veterinary training were discussed and it was agreed that the Ministry and the JVMA would continue dialogue and collaboration on this matter.
Based on the Cabinet decision earlier this year, the last cohort of subsidized veterinary students at the UWI-SVM will graduate in 2019.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie-Anne Small
UPDATE: Ministry of Education will fund the six students for only one year.
The JVMA has been made to understand that the Ministry of Education has decided to fund the six new veterinary students enrolled at the UWI School of Veterinary Medicine in Trindad for one year and no longer.
As such, the students are now fully registered, have been issued identification cards and were able to sit their mid-term examinations.
However the question remains what will happen to these students for the 2016-17 academic year and beyond. Only those able to secure full funding will be able to continue.
University of Florida ONE HEALTH Newsletter: CLICK HERE (Vol. 8: Issue 3)
The National Animal Identification & Traceability System
Dr. Ikolyn Ricketts of the VSD discusses the NAITS with veterinarians at the meeting hosted by the Veterinary Services Division
December 14, 2014
The Veterinary Services Division (VSD) will be undertaking a major national project with the implementation of the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) with the ultimate goal of establishing a system to identify and trace the origins of all food-producing animals in Jamaica. The programme and its associated policies and protocols were outlined to veterinarians by NAITS Team Leader Dr. Ikolyn Ricketts at a meeting hosted by the VSD at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Sunday December 14, 2014.
NAITS will be first implemented for the island's cattle population and will involve the use of coded ear tags with individual animal passports which will stay with an animal for its lifetime. The tags are specialized to allow the collection of tissue samples when they are inserted, allowing for the development of a DNA database of the population as part of the overall computerized national records. The system is designed to allow for expansion of its procedures and protocols in the future, based on needs.
VSD personnel, supported by the field staff of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) will be involved in the tagging process anfd farmer mobilization. A mobile squeeze will be used for the restraint of fractious animals. Tagging will be carried out on a parish by parish basis until the entire island is covered.
All farmers, regardless of number of animals owned, will be required to participate under the new Regulations being implemented under the Animal (Diseases & Importation) Act. Other stakeholders and participants will be the operators of abattoirs/slaughterhouses, livestock markets and showgrounds, public health inspectors and the police. Veterinarians and Public Health Inspectors will be involved in the certification of the death of an animal on farm or at slaughter respectively.
There will be no cost to the farmer in the first phase of the programme, but eventually, by year 3 or 4, it is envisaged that the farmer will bear the cost of the tagging.
NAITS is a necessary step to bring Jamaica in line with international best practice standards for traceability of food products from the farm to the fork. Once tagging is complete, an additional spin-off will be some level of protection from praedial larceny by making it much more difficult for stolen animals to be used for meat, since such animals cannot enter the slaughter and meat inspection process without the necessary documentation. The DNA samples collected during tagging may also aid in this.
Dr. Ricketts' presentation sparked lively discussion among the JVMA members present. Mrs. Claudette Phipps, though recently retired from her position at the VSD, was present and outlined the communications activities that will be utilized the get the NAITS message out to the public at large.
POSITION PAPER ON ANIMAL WELFARE - CLICK ON LOGO ABOVE
WEEKLY DISEASE REPORT. Please click on the logo above to check on important infectious diseases occurring around the world
POSITION PAPER ON ONE HEALTH - CLICK ON LOGO ABOVE
TRIBUTE TO A DOG
The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near to his master's side.
He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world . He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he was a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains.
When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey thru the heavens.
GEORGE VEST, 1870
Writer's Credit:Unless otherwise stated, all articles on this page are written by Dr. Paul Cadogan.
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