Coming from the centre of England, studying veterinary medicine in Scotland has its quirks. In my first week I was immersed in an entirely new language that had nothing to do with my choice of course.

england-scotland-jigsaw-2_Fotolia_treenabeenaOne of my Scottish friends loves to remind me of the golden moment in an introductory lecture when I leaned over and whispered “who’s Ken?” (as in “I dinnae ken”, or “ken what I mean?”).

But this week, during a lecture on bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), I was left wondering about the geographical impact of studying in Glasgow compared to friends who stayed closer to home.

North of the border

The BVD virus has a pretty interesting mechanism that, while making for fascinating reading, is the reason it wreaks havoc on the UK’s cattle industries and can be pesky to both diagnose and get on top of in the herd.

While BVD is prevalent all over the UK, Scotland is significantly further ahead than my home turf in the control of this disease, mainly due to a government-implemented eradication programme in recent years.

In England, however, many farmers are unaware of the disease or reluctant to undertake the costly exercise of hunting persistently infected calves within the herd, which, at the moment, is not compulsory – unlike in Scotland.

Now there was a lot of joking about England letting the side down and being a bit useless, but the reality is that until England plays catch-up and implements an eradication scheme, it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Scottish eradication to be 100% successful – short of throwing up a double fence between us and them.

Regional issues

If I were studying elsewhere, I wonder how the emphasis would differ depending on the prevalence in that region. Several times in my lectures I’ve heard Angiostrongylus (heartworm) brushed off as a differential if the animal has been to the south of England, with little much else said.

Would that be given more time in an area with higher prevalence, if I were studying in London for example?

At the end of the day, we all come out as vets, no matter where we’ve studied, and, while some topics may get more emphasis because of their regional importance, we’ll still need to pay particular attention to those conditions or diseases more commonly found in the areas we end up working in. So I don’t think geography has a dramatic impact long term (unless you never intend to leave your university city).

And after all, Scotland knows how to ceilidh.

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