Premiere Plans Give Flatter Fields
Professional Level Veterinary Microscopes
If you’re a frequent user demanding a high level of performance of your laboratory microscope, ‘Planar’ or ‘Plan’ Objective Lenses give you a clear image that’s in focus at the edges as well as in the centre.
How Your Microscope Works
Microscopes work by deflecting the path of light rays to make objects look many times larger – up to a 1000 times larger – than life. In modern laboratory microscopes, controllable light is provided by the built-in tungsten filament, halogen or LED light source, focussed onto the sample through the substage condenser.
Light passes through the sample or slide mounted on the microscope’s movable stage. Double-layer stages allow the operator to move the sample around in very small increments while vernier calibrated scales let the operator record the position of important findings and locate them again.
Bending The Light Fantastic
Light passing through the sample enters the microscope tube at the objective lens. In the pioneer days of microscopes, the objective was a single convex lens resembling a highly polished bead of glass. A single lens will deflect light rays sufficient to effectively magnify the image, but also introduces a number of other unhelpful distortions or ‘aberrations’.
The image created by the objective lens is further magnified by the eyepiece lenses and focussed onto the retina of the operator’s eye. A binocular microscope or ‘stereo-microscope’ allows the operator to view the sample with both eyes. Fitting a trinocular photographic head allows the operator to view the sample and take photographs at the same time.
Relieving Operator Fatigue and Reducing Laboratory Error
One of the most annoying and difficult to correct objective lens aberrations is the loss of ‘flat field’ or ‘planar image distortion’. Uncorrected, an objective lens will create a curved rather than flat image on the retina of the operator’s eye.
This means that while the centre of a sample might be in sharp focus, the edges of the image will be fuzzy and blurred requiring the operator to continually refocus within each field of view in, for instance, a stained blood-smear slide. Constant refocusing can cause operator fatigue, eye strain and inefficient use of laboratory time and even introduce errors.
Planar or Plan Objective Lenses adjust correctly the paths of light rays passing through them to create a flat image that’s in focus at the edges as well as in the centre, reducing eye-strain and operator fatigue.
Choosing Plan Objective Premiere Microscope
Vetlab Supplies’ Premiere 1600 and Premiere 2000 veterinary microscopes feature Infinity Plan Objective Lenses. The benefit of a Plan Objective is perhaps most noticeable when taking photo-micrographs using the trinocular photographic head. These professional quality microscopes also exploit the advances of Revolutionary Infinity Optics, holding the light rays from the objective parallel – as if focussed on infinity – to form a clearer, sharper image in the eye or in a digital camera.
How and Why to Balance Your Centrifuge
A Balanced Centrifuge Runs Quieter, Lasts Longer and Performs Safely
A reliable bench-top centrifuge is essential to many veterinary tests, diagnoses and sample handling procedures. Balancing your laboratory centrifuge before each and every operation is the simplest and most effective action you can take to prolong its life, performance, reliability and safety.
How Your Centrifuge Works
Your laboratory centrifuge is an ultra-high-speed electric motor driving a vertical spindle which spins the rotor. The rotor is basically a means of safely holding various laboratory samples. When the rotor spins, it effectively creates an outward force (called the g-force) thousands of times that of Earth’s gravity within the samples.
The g-forces created by centrifugation greatly magnify tiny weight differences within the spinning samples, greatly reducing the time taken for more dense material – such as solid matter, to separate out from the less dense material – such as water. Material that would take days to ‘settle out’ on the laboratory bench can be ‘centrifuged down’ in a few minutes.
Why Balancing Your Laboratory Centrifuge Matters
However, these same g-forces also magnify any slight differences in the uneven distribution of weight around the rotor. Even a slight weight imbalance between samples will cause the centrifuge to vibrate, shake uncontrollably and, in extreme circumstances, even explode.
Running a high-speed centrifuge with an unevenly loaded rotor is the most common cause of centrifuges breaking down. Out of balance loading causes the moving parts to shake uncontrollably. At best, this means the motor and bearings wear out more quickly. At worst, it risks sudden and explosive failure of the motor or rotor, and serious injury to laboratory personnel.
How to Balance Your Centrifuge
Balancing your centrifuge is as simple as it is critical. It’s just a matter of evenly distributing the weight of your lab samples around the rotor before switching on. In practice, it means that for each sample placed in the centrifuge, a sample of exactly the same weight must be placed on the exact opposite side of the rotor, as if joined by a line directly through the centre of the rotor.
Always operate your centrifuge using an even number of equally filled sample tubes of the same size and material distributed symmetrically across the centre of the rotor. If you find yourself with only one sample to spin down, always make yourself a ‘balance’ sample of the same size and weight to keep the rotor evenly and symmetrically loaded.
Seven Simple Rules for Balancing Your Laboratory Centrifuge
Whether you’re centrifuging haematocrit tubes, blood sample tubes, Eppendorf tubes, universal containers or commercial diagnostics such as Ovatube tubes, here are seven simple rules to prolong the life, performance, reliability and safety of your veterinary centrifuge.
Click on the PDF below for a visual guide on how to balance your centrifuge
- Always follow the manufacturer's instruction for operating your centrifuge
- Always use the centrifuge rotor specifically designed for samples to be centrifuged
- Always ensure the rotor is securely fixed – if in doubt, have it checked
- Always load your centrifuge with one type of sample tube or container only
- Always centrifuge samples of the equal weight – check their weights before loading
- Always balance each sample with its equal on a line through the centre of the rotor
- Always keep the inside of your centrifuge clean and dry and free of debris
VetCompass Companion Animal Surveillance
Where Vets Go When They Need to Know
Evidence based veterinary testing, diagnosis and treatment depends on the ready availability of reliable information and statistical data. VetCompass, operated and maintained by University of London’s Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is claimed as the world’s largest merged database of veterinary clinical records.
Risk Factors and Demographics in Companion Animal Disorders
The title VetCompass comes from a contraction of ‘Companion Animal Surveillance System’ a not-for-profit collaboration between the RVC and the University of Sydney. This international initiative aims to collate information and data on the range and frequency of domestic pet health issues. Analysis of the collected data provides veterinary professionals with the tools they need to identify important trends, risk factors and demographics in companion animal disorders.
VetCompass collects clinical and veterinary laboratory data from vets and vet labs in general practice on a day to day basis. The pooled data from a wide range of sources is then merged into an accessible single database making available the vast amount of data that would otherwise remain hidden away in thousands of unconnected local practice records.
Information from Almost 6 Million Animals
VetCompass began as pilot project collating data on the antibiotic and glucocorticoid treatments dispensed to pet animals in a small number of UK veterinary practices. From 2009, the initiative grew to include information from almost 6 million animals. Collaboration with the University of Sydney began in 2013 as ‘VetCompass Australia’. A targeted project, ‘VetCompass Equine’, designed to gather data on ailments and health risks to horses was launched in 2016.
The VetCompass approach to surveillance and data gathering has been applied to diseases ranging through epilepsy, cancer, skin disease, endocrinopathies and heart disease. As well as collating information on disease, the project also gathers demographic facts and figures on such generalities as longevity and mortality, the occurrence of parasitism on pets and the frequency of accidents in dogs and cats.
Improved Road Safety Awareness
A recent VetCompass survey reported that although only 0.41% of dogs presented at UK vets were victims of road traffic collisions (RTC), almost 25% of those dogs subsequently died or required euthanasia. One demonstration of the benefit of such a large data set is the amount of detail it contains. The survey showed that male dogs were 40% more likely than females to suffer an RTC. Animals aged three years or less were almost 3 times more susceptible to RTC that dogs of 14 years or more. The authors hope that these facts will inform and encourage improved road safety awareness and better streetwise management of dog owners.
Still The Best Protection Against ‘Tracker Dog Disease’ Ehrlichiosis
Environmental change is exposing Britain’s dogs to more and more diseases once confined to warmer Mediterranean and tropical climes. Diseases spread by ‘vectors’ including fleas, mites and ticks pose a special risk. One such disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, is of growing concern to UK vets and dog owners.
Tracker Dog Disease
Called ‘tracker dog disease’ and tropical pancytopenia in the US, due to its infection of military dogs serving in Vietnam, Canine Ehrlichiosis is also known as canine rickettsiosis or canine haemorrhagic fever. The infection spreads from dog to dog in the saliva of bites from the nymphs of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus.
Acute symptoms of the disease include; fever, anorexia, depression, with longer-term chronic symptoms such as anaemia, weight loss, depression, petechiae, pale mucous membranes and oedema. In the most severe cases, infected dogs may die from massive haemorrhaging, severe debilitation or secondary infections. Some infected dogs show no clinical signs and remain as carriers for many years, but may suddenly develop chronic symptoms.
What Causes the Symptoms?
Canine Ehrlichiosis symptoms may be caused by infection with one of a number of Ehrlichia spp. pathogens including Ehrlichia canis. E. canis is widespread in the warmer parts of many countries including France, Greece, Spain and Italy. In 2013 a Tibetan Terrier in London with no history of foreign travel outside of the UK, or known contact with travelled dogs, was diagnosed with E.canis.
The pathogenic agent of Ehrlichiosis is an intracellular Gram-negative bacteria that penetrates and destroys white blood cells. Ehrlichia bacteria are similar to other pathogenic invaders including Rickettsiacea and Anaplasma spp.
In the last few decades, interest in Ehrlichioses has spread beyond the veterinary profession. In 1986, the first diagnosis of the condition in a human patient indicated Ehrlichia’s zoonotic potential and risk to human health.
MegaCor FASTest Ehrlichia canis is a is a rapid immunochromatographic screening test for antibodies produced in response to Ehrlichia canis infection. As with other kits in the FASTest veterinary diagnostic range, the all-in-one test kit is simple to use, responds positively with a quick, clear-cut colour-change with a shelf life of up to 24 months even at room temperature storage.
Warm Weather and Parasite Activity
Although there are no current vaccines against Ehrlichia infections, most dogs recover from the acute and subclinical phases. With the approach of warmer weather and increasing parasite activity, preventing canine ehrlichiosis, and other tick-borne diseases including Lymes disease and Borrelia burgdorferi, will best be achieved by avoiding exposure to the tick vector. Your vet will be able to advise on the most suitable tick preventative measures for your dog and lifestyle.
Cat Watch UK
Coming Soon to Britain’s Streets
Without diagnostic monitoring and management, feral populations place homed cats at risk of infection with FIV and FeLV, infestation with external parasites such as fleas and mites, and internal invaders including bacteria, viruses and intestinal or respiratory worms.
Understanding the Risk that Feral Felines Pose to Britain’s Pet Cats
Cat welfare charity, Cats Protection, is promoting the UK’s first major census of Britain’s stray and feral cat population. Cat Watch isn’t just a counting exercise; it’s a serious attempt to monitor the health of an estimated 1 million homeless and abandoned cats living on Britain’s city streets. The shared social nature of homed pet and homeless strays makes total separation of the parallel populations practically impossible, underlining the need to know and understand the risk that feral felines pose to Britain’s 7 million pet cats.
The Cat Watch project, tested on the streets of Nottingham, Bradford, Luton, and the Everton district of Liverpool, and supported a wide spectrum of organisations including the Liverpool University Veterinary Practice, will give a clearer view of UK feral cat health and include a neutering and welfare programme.
Uncontrolled Breeding and Abandonment of Homed Cats
Cities such as Rome, Paris and Liege are famous for their more or less successful attempts to manage the health and numbers of their feral cats. The 2010 Liege project provided important data on the risk of pet cats to strays infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), while an earlier trap-neuter-release project in Rome was undermined by the uncontrolled breeding and abandonment of homed cats.
Veterinary diagnostic testing kits for such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Rotavirus, Chlamydiosis as well as a combined diagnostic for FIV/FeLV provide the early detection essential to effective treatment and containment of disease in managed cat environments such as breeding centres and catteries. Veterinary laboratory tests also provide detection systems for external parasites including. The same tests provide an efficient resource for monitoring the health of feral and stray populations.
Three in Five Owned Cats are now Microchipped
Pet animal welfare charity BlueCross advises that most apparently stray cats do in fact have a home. Before any cat wandering into your home or garden is treated as a genuine stray, BlueCross suggest a few simple actions toward uniting the wanderer with their true owner. Talking to neighbours is a good start. Posters, press ads and local social ads will also spread the message. Attaching a paper collar to the cat with your contact details gives the cat’s owner an opportunity to confirm ownership. Pet charity, the PDSA, estimates that three in five owned cats are now microchipped. So a quick microchip scan at your local veterinary surgery or pet charity re-homing centre might well identify a cat’s owner, even the cat has travelled some considerable distance.
Domestic Poultry, Friends or Food?
Chickens as Companion Animals
The chicken (Gallus gallus) we love to eat can trace its relatively short ancestry back to the Red Junglefowl of south-east Asia, with a smattering other similar junglefowl species helpfully bred into its genetic mix. The birds were first domesticated for their bright feathers, fighting prowess and watchfulness around 7000 years ago. It wasn’t until after WWII that chickens were meaty enough to compete with beef, pork and lamb became widely available on the nation’s dinner plate. Today, Farmer's Weekly estimates that the British poultry sector contributes £3billion annually to the UK economy.
Intensively Reared for Meat and Eggs
By far the largest proportion of the UK chicken flock are intensively reared for meat and eggs. In the UK, the health and welfare of the British meat chicken flock is underpinned by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and, in particular, The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.
Along with all captive flocks and herds, chickens bred for meat must be reared and housed in compliance with the Five Freedoms. These are spelled out in the Code of Recommendations for The Welfare of Livestock and summarised as: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress. Responsibility falls on the livestock keepers who are required to be trained, competent, knowledgeable and, perhaps most importantly, self-motivated.
Veterinary Guidance is Essential
The Code recognises the importance of veterinary involvement in maintaining the standards of animal welfare envisaged in the 2006 Animal Welfare Act. Veterinary guidance is essential to the formulation of an effective health and welfare policy, comprehensive record keeping, and maintaining a preventative programme of vaccination and veterinary diagnostic testing, especially for avian influenza, chlamydiosis and salmonella.
For some enthusiastic chicken keepers, the domestication cycle has turned full circle, with small numbers of birds being kept for their aesthetic rather than economic value. The 2016 Pet Population Survey, carried out by The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association, estimated the UK’s pet poultry population to be around 500,000 birds – a little higher than the number of hamsters, and lower than guinea pigs or rabbits.
Companion chickens certainly enjoy a higher standard of living than commercial birds, and many are ‘rescue birds’ having outlived their economic usefulness. Chickens may not be the new dogs (8.5million) or cats (7.5million), but look set to become as welcome on the patio as they have been on the plate.
Why Some Mice Just Want to Be Caught
How Toxoplasma Makes Infection More Likely
Toxoplasmosis in cats is caused by infection with the single-celled organism Toxoplasma gondii. Manifesting itself in symptoms including anorexia, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, jaundice and difficulty breathing, infection is diagnosed by the detection of T.gondii IgG antibodies.
The Parasite That Plays Cat and Mouse
Passed from the cat in its faeces, the eggs (oocysts) of T.gondii are inadvertently ingested by a ‘secondary host’ - such as a rat or mouse, ‘hatching’ to form large numbers of cysts in the animal’s muscle and nervous tissues. To complete its life-cycle, the immature parasite must get back into the primary host. This can only happen if the hapless secondary carrier is caught and eaten by a predatory cat.
Natural selection has equipped rodents with an acute sense of smell and the behavioural response to avoid anything that smells of cat. Current research indicates that the Toxoplasma parasite actually stacks the odds of survival against its secondary host and in favour of the cat getting its dinner – and re-infection with toxoplasmosis.
T.gondii Infected Mice Lose Their Fear of Cats
Controlled tests indicate that laboratory-bred rodents infected with Toxoplasma gondii can lose their fear of cats. Tests have shown that this response isn’t simply a reduction in sensitivity to the smell of cats, the parasite is apparently modifying the rodent’s behaviour increasing the likelihood of its getting found, caught and eaten.
Rather than running from its nemesis, behavioural scientists have witnessed T.gondii infected animals courting disaster by cavorting in the presence of cat urine, rather than heading for the safety of the nearest hole.
The Fine Art of Behavioural Manipulation
Research shows that there is a careful balance. Although the infected rodents show a reduced fear of weak cat-urine smells, stronger smells override their faux courage allowing their instinct for self-preservation to take over. This finding suggests the parasite itself has evolved to exert just the right level of behavioural manipulation over its unfortunate secondary host.
Diagnostic Testing Protects Unborn Kittens from Toxoplasmosis
The animal welfare issue of Toxoplasma infection in cats is magnified in cat breeding centres and catteries. T.gondii not only infects adult cats, it can infect unborn kittens while still in the womb. Infected kittens may be stillborn or die even before weaning; survivors may be seriously weakened, show a lack of appetite, fever, dyspnoea or jaundice.
FASTest Toxoplasma-g provides vets serving catteries and cat breeders with a reliable veterinary diagnostic test for Toxoplasma gondii. Ready for instant use, the easy to use test kit stores at room temperature and gives a clear cut immunochromatographic response in 15 minutes.
Diagnostic Testing for Koi Herpes Virus
Protecting Valuable Koi Stocks
Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) is a distressing and deadly disease of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and all its wild and ornamental varieties including mirror, leather, ghost and koi.
Within a carp stocked water, the disease is spread through fish to fish contact. However, poorly disinfected fishing tackle, fishery management equipment and even contaminated water, can transfer the virus between unconnected carp habitats.
Visual and Behavioural Changes
KHV infection shows itself as patches of white or brown dead tissue on the fish’s gills. Skin elsewhere on the fish might appear rough and flaking. A loss of protective mucus makes virus-infected carp feel dry when handled. Behavioural changes can include lethargy and hanging still in the water. KHV damage to a fish’s gills makes getting enough oxygen from the water stressful, so KHV affected fish may gather near aeration points such as inlets or fountains. Tissue damage leaves koi carp vulnerable to secondary invasion by parasitic fungi and bacteria.
As spring approaches, and water temperatures rise toward the virus’s activating temperature of 16-degree centigrade, carp fisheries and ornamental stocks – including mirror carp, leather carp, koi and ghost koi, risk large-scale mortalities of up to 100%.
Halting the movement of Infectious Stock
The Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), Part A of the UK Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Cefas) requires notification whenever KHV is suspected in carp stocked waters. In response, the FHI may temporarily suspend access to the affected water and halt the movement of potentially infectious stocks and equipment. After mortalities have ceased, FHI may prohibit restocking with carp species until after the following summer. This is to ensure that seasonally warming water doesn’t provoke a renewed outbreak. Even so, there is no guarantee that replacement stock won’t pick up an infection from surviving fish.
There is no treatment or cure for KHV, and because the virus may persist in fish surviving any outbreak of the virus, only careful biosecurity-management and constant monitoring offer any protection against potentially devastating infection.
FASTest Koi HV is a 15-minute pond-side test giving a clear colour-change signal if Koi Herpes Virus is detected. Based on specific monoclonal antibody technology, the long shelf life kit requires no refrigerated storage.
Why Springtime is The Big Time for Ticks
It’s Not the Blood They Suck, It’s What They Leave Behind
Ticks are an unpleasant experience for dogs and people. Unlikely to cause lasting harm in themselves, the diseases and infections they carry, however, are another more serious story. FASTest Lyme and FASTest Bor-In-Tick help vets in the fight against Tick-Borne Diseases.
Cold Blooded Parasite Seeks Warm Blooded Host
Having no way to regulate their body heat, ticks are not normally inactive through the winter, but begin actively feeding in the spring and early summer. In the heat summer, some species of tick reduce their parasitism greatly, though ticks often reach a second peak of activity in the autumn.
Most likely to sink its jaws into your dog is the sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus), although ticks more commonly found on hedgehogs, (Ixodes hexagonus) or hosted by foxes and badgers (Ixodes canisuga), might also help themselves to a blood meal from you or your canine companion.
The Three Blood-Sucking Stages of a Tick’s Life
Ticks have a 3-stage life cycle. Depending on the species of tick, each stage might feed on a different host or take a repeat meal from the same species type.
After hatching from over-wintering eggs, the six-legged tick larvae climb plant stems to hitch a lift and scrounge a blood-meal from a passing warm-blooded animal.
Suitably fed, the larvae releases its grip and falls to the ground where it grows, moults and develops into its second, immature form as an 8-legged nymph. The nymph stage repeats the behaviour of its younger self, again feeding and dropping off into the warm moist undergrowth where it matures into its hard coated, 8-legged adult form.
After mating, the adult female tick climbs out of the undergrowth one final time to suck the blood that will nourish her eggs before dropping back to earth to lay the eggs that will lie dormant and hatch out in the following spring.
In-Tick Test Puts Vets One Step Ahead of Borrelia-Lymes
Heavy infestations of ticks can take enough blood from their hosts to cause anaemia, and the wound caused by a tick bite can become infected, especially if its mouthparts remain embedded in the skin. The most serious potential for sickness and even death from tick bites comes from their role as vectors for blood-borne parasites. Perhaps the highest profile Tick-Borne Disease (TDB) is Lymes Disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.
Lymes disease, in a blood sample from a suspected infection, is rapidly and reliably diagnosed with the FASTest Lyme diagnostic kit. Now, with FASTest Bor-in-Tick, Vets can test for B.burgdorferi in ticks found on animals or in their environment, putting vets and their clients one step ahead of a potential Lyme Borrelia outbreak.
Health Dangers That Can Harm Your Pet This Summer
While summertime staples like backyard barbecues and walks on the beach are a lot of fun, they can pose health risks for some pets. It is important to know how to keep your animals comfortable during the summer months, including what vet supplies to use, so that you can prevent any serious conditions, including life-threatening heat stroke.
There is only one place to begin, and this is with overheating. It is easy to underestimate how quickly an animal can react to overheating. Simply leaving your pet alone in a vehicle for a few minutes can be dangerous, as temperatures can go up by ten degrees in about ten minutes, even when the windows are left open. Pugs, bulldogs, and other brachycephalic dog breeds are most susceptible to overheating. You need to recognise signs of dehydration, including lethargy, shallow breathing, sunken eyes, and dry gums. If the symptoms don’t clear once you have given your pet plenty of water, you will need some specialist UK vet supplies.
Not all dogs are natural swimmers
There are also water dangers to bear in mind. Not all dogs are natural swimmers so don’t leave yours unattended. Plus, you should check their ears afterwards to ensure they aren’t waterlogged. Dogs are very prone to ear infections, which will also require vet supplies for them to be cleared. Also, your animal will require skin protection, just like we do, during the summer months. Pets can develop skin cancer and sunburn, especially those with short and light-coloured hair.
If you use human-formulated sunscreen, your pet may be tempted to lick it off. This can cause vomit and bloody diarrhoea. Instead, purchase sunscreen that has been formulated specifically for pets from a vet supplies UK store. Another thing that can easily cause diarrhoea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal irritation are the rich, fatty foods that are eaten at barbecues, including corn on the cob and onion. Make sure you keep this away from your pet.
Pets can also develop summer allergies. You need to watch out for ear infections, paw and skin irritations, as well as watery and itchy eyes. If you notice these symptoms, you should either try Benadryl or seek advice from someone at a specialist veterinary consumables store. Aside from this, you need to make sure your pet does not drink stagnant water, as this can harbour bacteria that causes leptospirosis. This is a disease that can also enter a pet’s body through broken skin, the mouth, nose, and eyes. There is a vaccine to prevent it, so it’s a good idea to consider this.
As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be considered during the summer months when it comes to the health of your pet. However, it’s important to shield them from the soaring temperatures and other risks that can cause harm. Plus, having vet supplies in the home just in case something goes wrong is always a good idea.
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