VetCompass Australia publications and reports

McGreevy, P.; Thomson, P.; Dhand, N.K.; Raubenheimer, D.; Masters, S.; Mansfield, C.S.; Baldwin, T.; Soares Magalhaes, R.J.; Rand, J.; Hill, P.; Peaston, A.; Gilkerson, J.; Combs, M.; Raidal, R.; Irwin, P.; Irons, P.; Squires, R.; Brodbelt, D.; Hammond, J. VetCompass Australia: A National Big Data Collection System for Veterinary Science. Animals *2017*, 7, 74.[]
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Prednisolone prescribing practices for dogs in Australia - Bonnie Purcell, Anke Wiethoelter, Julien Dandrieux


Although prednisolone is a routinely prescribed medication in dogs, there is a lack of information regarding prednisolone prescribing practices by veterinarians. This study aims to describe characteristics of dogs receiving prednisolone, disease processes treated, doses prescribed as well as to identify factors influencing the dose rate in Australia. The VetCompass Australia database was queried to identify dogs prescribed prednisolone between 1 July 2016 to 31 July 2018 (inclusive). A random sample of 2,000 dogs from this population were selected. Dog demographic data, prednisolone dose and indication for prescription were collated. Indicated dose for the condition treated was compared to prescribed dose. Multivariable linear regression was used to identify patient-level characteristics associated with prescribed prednisolone dose. A large and small breed dog cohort, treated for the same disease process, were compared for differences in dosing. Median age of dogs was 73 (range 2 to 247) months and median body weight was 17 (range 1.56 to 90) kg. Median prescribed prednisolone dose was 0.8 mg/kg/day, with most dogs receiving an anti-inflammatory dose (0.3-1 mg/kg/day, 58%). Prednisolone prescriptions were predominantly for diseases of the integument (n = 1645, 82%) followed by unknown indication and respiratory disease. A total of 152 dogs (8%) were prescribed immunosuppressive doses of prednisolone for conditions where an anti-inflammatory dose would be recommended. Increases in bodyweight were associated with lower doses on mg/kg scale but higher doses on a mg/m2 scale (p
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VCA Symposium 2022


The VetCompass Australia Symposium 2022 was held on 16th and 17th August. There were 6 sessions over 2 days, with 24 presentations and 2 e-posters submitted. Thank you to everyone who participated. 
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The effects of oclacitinib treatment on antimicrobial usage in allergic dogs in primary practice: an Australia wide case-control study - Hester Rynhoud, Catriona Croton, Grace Henry, Erika Meler, Justine S. Gibson & Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes


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Epidemiology and Survival of Dogs Diagnosed with Splenic Lymphoid Hyperplasia, Complex Hyperplasia, Stromal Sarcoma and Histiocytic Sarcoma - Cleide H Spröhnle-Barrera, J. M., Rachel E Allavena, Helen C Owen, Chiara Palmieri, Tamsin S Barnes


Dogs are frequently diagnosed with nodular lesions affecting the spleen. One of the most common lesions has been traditionally classified as fibrohistiocytic nodules but has more recently been separated into different types: lymphoid hyperplasia, complex hyperplasia, stromal sarcoma, and histiocytic sarcoma. Notably, there are contradictory reports on the survival times of dogs diagnosed with stromal sarcoma and histiocytic sarcoma. In addition, some studies have found an association between the diagnosis of these nodules with the dog’s age, breed, sex, and survival time. This paper aims to estimate the frequency of the previously known fibrohistiocytic nodules among splenectomized dogs and identify associations between the four different types of nodules with the age, sex, breed, and survival. Typical survival times varied markedly between the four types of nodules. These findings reveal widely different outcomes for dogs diagnosed with each fibrohistiocytic nodule, providing useful information to clinicians on the survival estimates of these lesions.
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Near-term forecasting of companion animal tick paralysis incidence: An iterative ensemble model - Nicholas Clark, Tatiana Proboste, Guyan Weerasinghe and Ricardo Soares Magalhães


Tick-borne illnesses constitute a diverse group of debilitating conditions for pet dogs and cats around the world. In Australia, thousands of domestic dogs are admitted to emergency veterinary clinics due to tick paralysis each year. These admissions are highly seasonal and may be associated with changing environmental conditions, suggesting models that learn from environmental patterns to forecast the oncoming tick season could inform pet owners and clinicians about changing risks. In this paper we use a series of statistical forecasting models to analyse and predict tick paralysis admissions to veterinary clinics in a tick paralysis hotspot in Queensland, Australia. Our approach is novel in that we combine individual models into a superior ensemble that is trained to reduce forecast uncertainty, giving more accurate estimates of what the coming tick season will look like. Our model consistently outperforms a field-leading benchmark while uncovering important patterns about environmental drivers of paralysis tick exposure, including changes to levels of moist vegetation and maximum temperature. We also demonstrate how our model can be used to automatically produce forecasts of tick paralysis admissions as new data become available. This can have important implications for designing improved early warning systems for tick-borne illness.
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Evaluating the Dose, Indication and Agreement with Guidelines of Antimicrobial Use in Companion Animal Practice with Natural Language Processing - Hur, Brian, Laura Y. Hardefeldt, Karin M. Verspoor, Timothy Baldwin, and James R. Gilkerson


*Background* As antimicrobial prescribers, veterinarians contribute to the emergence of MDR pathogens. Antimicrobial stewardship programmes are an effective means of reducing the rate of development of antimicrobial resistance. A key component of antimicrobial stewardship programmes is selecting an appropriate antimicrobial agent for the presenting complaint and using an appropriate dose rate for an appropriate duration.
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Antimicrobial Stewardship in Companion Animal Practice: An Implementation Trial in 135 General Practice Veterinary Clinics - Hardefeldt, L. Y., B. Hur, S. Richards, R. Scarborough, G. F. Browning, H. Billman-Jacobe, J. R. Gilkerson, et al


*Background* Antimicrobial stewardship programmes (ASPs) have been widely implemented in medical practice to improve antimicrobial prescribing and reduce selection for multidrug-resistant pathogens.
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Overcoming Challenges in Extracting Prescribing Habits from Veterinary Clinics Using Big Data and Deep Learning - Hur, B, Ly Hardefeldt, K Verspoor, T Baldwin, and Jr Gilkerson


Understanding antimicrobial usage patterns and encouraging appropriate antimicrobial usage is a critical component of antimicrobial stewardship. Studies using VetCompass Australia and Natural Language Processing (NLP) have demonstrated antimicrobial usage patterns in companion animal practices across Australia. Doing so has highlighted the many obstacles and barriers to the task of converting raw clinical notes into a format that can be readily queried and analysed. We developed NLP systems using rules-based algorithms and machine learning to automate the extraction of data describing the key elements to assess appropriate antimicrobial use. These included the clinical indication, antimicrobial agent selection, dose and duration of therapy. Our methods were applied to over 4.4 million companion animal clinical records across Australia on all consultations with antimicrobial use to help us understand what antibiotics are being given and why on a population level. Of these, approximately only 40% recorded the reason why antimicrobials were prescribed, along with the dose and duration of treatment. NLP and deep learning might be able to overcome the difficulties of harvesting free text data from clinical records, but when the essential data are not recorded in the clinical records, then, this becomes an insurmountable obstacle.
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A VetCompass Australia Study of Antimicrobial Use in Dog-to-Dog Bite Wounds (1998–2018) - Kalnins, N.J.; Croton, C.; Haworth, M.; Gibson, J.; Purcell, S.L.; Stewart, A.J.


Although dog-to-dog bite wounds (DBW) are a common presentation to veterinary clinics, antimicrobial prescribing habits of Australian clinics have not been reported. This study determined the frequency and results of DBW cultures; antimicrobial selection; and importance class of antimicrobials prescribed relative to wound severity, geographic location, or year. A systematic sample of 72,507 patient records was retrieved from the VetCompass Australia database. Records for 1713 dog bite events involving 1655 dogs were reviewed for presenting signs, results of culture and susceptibility testing (C&S), antimicrobial treatment, geographical location, and outcome. A crossed random effects multivariable logistic regression model was used to determine if antimicrobial importance was associated with wound severity, year, and location, and to assess the differences in antimicrobial prescription between geographical locations, clinics, and veterinarians. Antimicrobials were prescribed in 86.1% of DBW. Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid was prescribed in 70% (1202/1713) with underdosing in 15.8% (191/1202). High-importance antimicrobial use was associated with wound severity (p Click here to read the full article.
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Mortality resulting from undesirable behaviours in dogs aged three years and under attending primary-care veterinary practices in Australia - Yu, Y., Wilson, B., Masters, S., Van Rooy, D., McGreevy, P.


There is increasing evidence that undesirable behaviours (UBs) in dogs can compromise the welfare of both canine companions and their associated humans. Indeed, in a recent UK study of patient records from primary-care veterinary practices, UBs emerged as the predominant cause for mortality in young dogs. The current companion study of dogs attending veterinary practices in Australia from 2013 to 2018 reports a comparable proportion of mortality (29.7%) due to UBs among dogs aged three years and under. The most commonly reported UB was aggression. Neutered dogs and purebred dogs (and specifically Australian Cattle Dogs and American Staffordshire terriers) had an elevated risk of death ascribed to at least one UB. The risk factors associated with these UBs are also reported, including interventions applied by the attending clinician (if any). The results highlight the influence of UBs on dog welfare in Australia, and infer the benefits of educating dog owners and veterinary professionals in modifying and managing UBs.
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A shift towards early‑age desexing of cats under veterinary care in Australia - Loic Mazeau, Claire Wylie, Lara Boland & Julia A. Beatty


The global problem of unowned domestic cats, driven by their phenomenal reproductive success, carries significant economic, animal welfare and biodiversity costs. Desexing owned cats prior to puberty prevents unwanted litters that contribute to unowned cat populations. The prevalence and predictors of desexing, and the age at which surgery was carried out were investigated using anonymized electronic patient records in the VetCompass Australia database of cats presented to veterinary practices. Of 52,941 cats born between 2010 and 2017, 83.6% were desexed. Amng 7463 desexed females, 21.5% had been desexed by 4 months of age, 59.8% by 6 months and 85.4% by 1 year. Sex, breed, location and socioeconomic indices significantly influenced desexing status and age at surgery. Cats born between 2010 and 2017 had greater odds of being desexed than cats born between 1995and 2009 at each age cut-off (≤ 4 months [OR 1.76, CI95 1.58–1.97], ≤ 6 months [OR 1.50, CI95 1.38–1.62] and ≤ 1 year [OR 2.33, CI95 2.11–2.57] p
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Use of cefovecin in dogs and cats attending first-opinion veterinary practices in Australia - Laura Hardefeldt, Brian Hur, Karin Verspoor, Timothy Baldwin, Kirsten E Bailey, Ri Scarborough, Suzanna Richards, Helen Billman-Jacobe, Glenn Francis Browning and James Gilkerson


*Background: *Cefovecin is a long-acting third-generation cephalosporin commonly used in veterinary medicine. Third-generation cephalosporins are critically important antimicrobials that should only be used after culture and susceptibility testing. The authors describe the common indications for cefovecin use in dogs and cats, and the frequency of culture and susceptibility testing.
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Domain Adaptation and Instance Selection for Disease Syndrome Classification over Veterinary Clinical Notes - Hur, B., Baldwin, T., Verspoor, K., Hardefeldt, L., and Gilkerson, J.


Identifying the reasons for antibiotic administration in veterinary records is a critical component of understanding antimicrobial usage patterns. This informs antimicrobial stewardship programs designed to fight antimicrobial resistance, a major health crisis affecting both humans and animals in which veterinarians have an important role to play. We propose a document classification approach to determine the reason for administration of a given drug, with particular focus on domain adaptation from one drug to another, and instance selection to minimize annotation effort.
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A case-control study to identify risk factors for adult-onset idiopathic megaoesophagus in Australian dogs, 2017–2018. - Renwick, M., Stevenson, M.A., Wiethoelter, A. and Mansfield, C.


Epidemiological investigations were carried out following detection of an outbreak of megaoesophagus in Victorian Police working dogs in early 2018 and an increase in the number of canine megaoesophagus cases reported by companion animal veterinarians in Eastern Australia starting in late 2017. VetCompass Australia data were used to quantify the incidence of canine megaoesophagus for the period January 2012 to February 2018 and a matched case-control study carried out to identify individual animal risk factors for canine megaoesophagus in 2017–2018.
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Describing the antimicrobial usage patterns of companion animal veterinary practices; free text analysis of more than 4.4 million consultation records - Hur BA, Hardefeldt LY, Verspoor KM, Baldwin T, Gilkerson JR


Antimicrobial Resistance is a global crisis that veterinarians contribute to through their use of antimicrobials in animals. Antimicrobial stewardship has been shown to be an effective means to reduce antimicrobial resistance in hospital environments. Effective monitoring of antimicrobial usage patterns is an essential part of antimicrobial stewardship and is critical in reducing the development of antimicrobial resistance. The aim of this study is to describe how frequently antimicrobials were used in veterinary consultations and identify the most frequently used antimicrobials. Using VetCompass Australia, Natural Language Processing techniques, and the Australian Strategic Technical Advisory Group’s (ASTAG) Rating system to classify the importance of antimicrobials, descriptive analysis was performed on the antimicrobials prescribed in consultations from 137 companion animal veterinary clinics in Australia between 2013 and 2017 (inclusive). Of the 4,400,519 consultations downloaded there were 595,089 consultations where antimicrobials were prescribed to dogs or cats. Antimicrobials were dispensed in 145 of every 1000 canine consultations; and 38 per 1000 consultations involved high importance rated antimicrobials. Similarly with cats, 108 per 1000 consultations had antimicrobials dispensed, and in 47 per 1000 consultations an antimicrobial of high importance rating was administered. The most common antimicrobials given to cats and dogs were cefovecin and amoxycillin clavulanate, respectively. The most common topical antimicrobial and high-rated topical antimicrobial given to dogs and cats was polymyxin B. This study provides a descriptive analysis of the antimicrobial usage patterns in Australia using methods that can be automated to inform antimicrobial use surveillance programs and promote antimicrobial stewardship.
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Epidemiological study of dogs with diabetes mellitus attending primary care veterinary clinics in Australia - Samuel Yoon, Linda Fleeman, Bethany Wilson, Caroline Mansfield, Paul D. McGreevy


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Identification of Microchip Implantation Events for Dogs and Cats in the VetCompass Australia Database - Paul McGreevy, Sophie Masters, Leonie Richards, Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes, Anne Peaston, Martin Combs, Peter J. Irwin, Janice Lloyd, Catriona Croton, Claire Wylie and Bethany Wilson


In Australia, compulsory microchipping legislation requires that animals are microchipped before sale or prior to 3 months in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and by 6 months in Western Australia and Tasmania. Describing the implementation of microchipping in animals allows the data guardians to identify individual animals presenting to differing veterinary practices over their lifetimes, and to evaluate compliance with legislation. VetCompass Australia (VCA) collates electronic patient records from primary care veterinary practices into a database for epidemiological studies. VCA is the largest companion animal clinical data repository of its kind in Australia, and is therefore the ideal resource to analyse microchip data as a permanent unique identifier of an animal. 
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Using natural language processing and VetCompass to understand antimicrobial usage patterns in Australia - B Hur, LY Hardefeldt, K Verspoor, T Baldwin, JR Gilkerson


*Background: *Currently there is an incomplete understanding of antimicrobial usage patterns in veterinary clinics in Australia, but such knowledge is critical for the successful implementation and monitoring of antimicrobial stewardship programs.
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Managing mutations of a species: the evolution of dog breeding - Prof. Paul McGreevy, Dr Bethany Wilson, Prof. Frank Nicholas


For most of the roughly 15,000 years since their domestication, dogs were selected by humans for their usefulness as hunters, retrievers, herders, guards or companions. As modern breeds became recognisable, the extent to which a dog aligned with the expected shape, size and coat for its breed (known as “conformation”) became more important. This has led to the development of breed standards, but even without these, many inherited disorders would still occur. Indeed, most inherited disorders have nothing to do with conformation.
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Chocolate Labradors die earlier and have more ear and skin conditions - Paul D. McGreevy, Bethany J. Wilson, Caroline S. Mansfield, Dave C. Brodbelt, David B. Church, Navneet Dhand, Ricardo J. Soares Magalhães and Dan G. O’Neill


Chocolate-coloured Labrador retrievers have, on average, 10% shorter lives than black or yellow Labradors, and are more likely to suffer ear infections and skin diseases, according to a study of the veterinary records of more than 33,320 Labrador retrievers in the UK. For this study, researchers analysed the data in our sister program, VetCompass at the Royal Veterinary College in London. 
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VetCompass Australia: A National Big Data Collection System for Veterinary Science


VetCompass Australia is veterinary medical records-based research coordinated with the global VetCompass endeavor to maximize its quality and effectiveness for Australian companion animals (cats, dogs, and horses). Bringing together all seven Australian veterinary schools, it is the first nationwide surveillance system collating clinical records on companion-animal diseases and treatments. VetCompass data service collects and aggregates real-time, clinical records for researchers to interrogate, delivering sustainable and cost-effective access to data from hundreds of veterinary practitioners nationwide. Analysis of these clinical records will reveal geographical and temporal trends in the prevalence of inherited and acquired diseases, identify frequently prescribed treatments, revolutionize clinical auditing, help the veterinary profession to rank research priorities, and assure evidence-based companion-animal curricula in veterinary schools. 
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Risk factors for underweight and overweight in cats in metropolitan Sydney, Australia

Take a sneak peak at the sort of research that we will be able to do using VetCompass Australia data. Looking at the cat records for one Sydney clinic, The Chatswood Cat Palace, a team of researchers, lead by Kendy Teng, has made some interesting discoveries.
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New poster and flyer


Take a look at our new poster and brochure. These are ready to be sent out to our wonderful participating practices[/about-us/participating-practices/].            
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ANZCVS Science Week


Thanks to ANZCVS VetCompass Australia is at the 2017 College Science Week Scientific Conference. We will be here all week, ready to talk to you about VetCompass Australia and answer any questions you have.
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AVA Conference 2017


VetCompass Australia will be at the 2017 AVA Conference from 4-9 June. Come and visit us at the AVA stand in the Exhibition Hall. We thank the AVA for this excellent opportunity to talk to delegates about VetCompass Australia.
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