This page is a new facility for our clients and will try to provide a simple explanation for some of the terms we use and some of the conditions we encounter on a daily basis. It does not endeavour to be full or complete or binding, just a plain description of what we mean.
This is a term we use when we are using a medicine outside of the list in the data sheet. Every drug licensed in the UK has a data sheet which states what medical conditions and species it may be used to treat, dosages, side effects and precautions when it is handled. It also provides information on the company producing that drug and the licence number. In the veterinary world we frequently use medicines off-licence and we will get you to sign and off-licence consent form (this basically means you have been told what we are doing and we have your permission to carry on). There are a number of reasons why off-licence use of medicines is warranted in veterinary medicine. It is predominantly to do with the testing procedures for drugs. This is very thorough and hence expensive. Some drugs are licensed only for species such as dogs or horses and it is uneconomic to test them for rabbits or hamsters. Likewise if one in ten dogs suffer from a condition yet only one in ten thousand cats, again it is uneconomic to licence it. The other factor that sometimes makes us reach for an unlicensed drug is where it is a drug has been used in the human field but not yet made its way into the veterinary market but the evidence is that it will be beneficial for our animals. Off-licence does not mean 'bad' or 'risky' in itself, it just means that we cannot not have the degree of certainty of the effects that we would with a licensed drug. (I will shortly be doing an explanation of 'The cascade' which will make this a little clearer).
Epidemiology is the study of the relationships of various factors determining the frequency and distribution of a disease in a community. It is also called epizootiology. These are both great words for Scrabble.
As a student, I always found epidemiology very interesting. Why did that cow get the disease and the one beside it , not? It is generally a complex relationship between the animal and disease. Rarely is it a case of Bug + Animal = Disease. Some very interesting relationships come to light when we look at the world of animals and their diseases. During the foot-and-mouth crisis at the start of this century it was found that in the early stages of the outbreak that seemingly unrelated farms were having cases, but closer examination found that the virus was being transported from farm to farm in the air-brakes of the milk collection lorry. In relation to the recent outbreak of measles in humans epidemiologists will be examining the role of the media in facilitating the outbreak.
Herd health/immunity is a big aspect of epidemiology in the veterinary world. This is the principle whereby if you make a high percentage of a herd or community immune to a disease eg parvovirus in dogs with vaccination, then the small percentage that are not treated gain some protection by dint of the fact that the disease struggles to thrive and multiply and hence be a risk even to the unprotected.
This is a much misunderstood term. It means inflammation of the parenchyma (substance) of the lung. It is often seen in conjunction with inflammation of the adjoining airways (bronchitis). It can be severe and life threatening but also mild and almost undetectable. It is characterised by increased rate and depth of respiration with an increase in respiratory (breathing) effort whilst the absorption of oxygen is reduced due to the inflammed tissue being less efficient. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses and by inhaling foreign material.