Similar to those who work in the human medical field vets aren’t simply “vets”. There’s a huge range of qualifications, experiences, and specialties. One of the specialties you’ll see on a vet’s website is called an “OV”. What exactly is an OV? What are they? Are they essential for you as an owner of a pet?
What’s an OV?
An Official Veterinarian is a vet who has been certified to do tasks on behalf of the government. Usually, this is in relation with public health. All vets with OV status are licensed veterinary surgeons however, not all veterinary surgeons qualify as OVs. To be an OV, vets must complete additional qualifications known as official Control Qualifications (Veterinary) or OCQ(V). Then, they must be authorized through an agency called the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
What do they do?
OVs are more crucial than the majority of people think!
A number of important tasks for an OV is to ensure the area of hygiene in food and animal welfare when it comes to trade in meat and slaughter. The UK is home to one of the strictest standards for animal and food safety laws globally. This is largely due to the usage of OVs. There’s an OV in each slaughterhouse for animals. The OV aids in the inspection of carcasses of the animals after slaughter. It ensures that the meat is safe to be eaten by humans in addition to identifying concerns with the animal’s welfare that it suffered from, such as the presence of worms or other injuries. Since each carcass is thoroughly examined, it is simple to keep a carcass with a health issue from making it into in the chain of food.
It is essential that OVs examine the animals and the products they produce both before and after slaughter to ensure that their products are safe for human consumption, and ensure that the meat is of the highest quality. A variety of diseases can be passed on from animal products to human. This is why OVs are essential in reducing the spread of food-borne illnesses. Importantly, OVs are an important process in identifying illnesses that can be reported like feet and mouth diseases mad cow disease specific tapeworms and many more that could have negative effects on animals and human health when not detected and treated quickly.
It is the OV will also make sure that each carcass of an animal is properly labeled, properly processed and all by-products can be safely disposed. If there are concerns regarding the safety of food at any time during the process the OV can stop production until the problem is resolved.
When the animals are brought to slaughterhouses, they are checked. If there is any issue that need to be addressed, the OV is informed so that modifications can be made on the farm or during transport. This safeguards the welfare of animals as well as the high-quality of meat. Post-mortem inspections provide another opportunity to check for issues with the welfare of animals on the farm regardless of whether they are not affecting the health of humans, like the ectoparasites.
In slaughterhouses, vets are also in charge of “emergency slaughter,” which occurs animals are suffering from any kind of discomfort or if its welfare is compromised the vet is able to swiftly end the animal’s life humanely in order to end the suffering.
Importation of animals and exportation of animal products
The OVs can also play a part beyond slaughterhouses. If an animal is being transported out within the UK (this usually by sea , from ports as it is an island) the transport must be legal. The OV has to sign multiple documents referred to in the form of Export Health Certificates (EHC). An EHC guarantees that the animals are transported in a safe, secure, and efficient manner and can be identified. This is essential to determine and stop instances of disease outbreaks. If a disease develops within an animal originally from the UK It can be identified by EHCs. It also helps to limit illegal movements of animals which may compromise animal welfare.
A different result of Brexit, as of our departure from the EU OVs play a different purpose, this one with companion animals. Before, traveling into the EU with pets required the pet’s passport, which was simple to obtain. Since Brexit has taken place, the UK is now considered as a third member of the EU and therefore pets entering the EU must be accompanied by the submission of an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) to be certified with an OV. An OV must make sure that your pet is microchipped and up-to-date with all their vaccinations and has received a rabies vaccination as well as a blood sample, and has been treated for tapeworms if an animal. AHC AHC could take several hours to be signed correctly and is only for one-time use in contrast to the previous pet passport. It can cost the traveler PS100 or more per pet each time they travel. Previously, pet passports are priced about PS60 as well. They were also valid for the duration of their validity.
In reality, OVs have always been signing AHCs for pets that travel to locations outside the EU however, since EU travel for pets has become significantly more prevalent, OVs are finding they have signed more AHCs as opposed to before Brexit.
Are OVs important to you?
Ovs are extremely important to everyone, regardless of whether you do not have pets and do not consume meat. Foodborne illnesses are a major killer and are easily transmitted between people without eating meat. OVs reduce the risk to a great extent, and also work to stop outbreaks quickly when they occur. A prime example occurred during the Mad Cow Disease outbreak of the 1980s and 90s. it is known as a prions (abnormal proteins) disease spread through beef that was infected by the spinal cord or brain. This complicated and slow-moving disease resulted in gradual neurological signs and then death in cattle as well as people. The spread of the disease caused the slaughter of millions of cattle.
Since the time, new laws have prevented further spread – and an OV aids in this by making sure that the spinal cord and brain tissue is properly removed from the slaughterhouse, which prevents contamination of the meat. Therefore, even if you do not know it, you’re protected by OVs all the time – this concept of keeping both human and animal life is known as One Health. The OVs are a vital connection between regular vets and medical professionals for humans.
If you’re looking at an online vet’s website and the vet is listed as an OV it could be relevant to you in the event that you intend traveling with pet.
Travel isn’t legally permissible in the absence of an AHC obtained from an OV Therefore, you must be sure to contact an OV prior to traveling. Since not all vets are affiliated with an organization, you might be required to locate another vet practice that is OV , if the one you have does not have one. It’s understandable that this is a hassle, especially in the case of a simple pet passport system prior to this. Remember that AHCs exist to safeguard human and animal wellbeing, both in UK as well as abroad. Both tapeworms and rabies could be deadly to humans, and can cause diseases, so making sure the animals are safe is good for the human body too.
Also, OVs working in small animal practices will be in search of any conditions that could affect the health of humans, like the rabies virus, Toxoplasma, parasites and other. While looking for an OV in the local clinic as a pet’s owner isn’t essential but it could be beneficial in certain circumstances.
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