LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 11 Number 3, June 2011, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times (ISSN 1440-4966) & Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editor: Anne Roberts

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A critique of some of those involved in the dispute about Rosebery

By Kay Seltitzas and Isla MacGregor, Toxic Heavy Metals Taskforce Tasmania (THMTT

Bronwyn Hill – Still no research results on pet health (See article in Lanv11n2 Are our pets safe? written in collaboration with Drs Mary Lou Conway and Ron Harris)

This article provides no medical or scientific evidence and is a very unsatisfactory and particularly mediocre commentary quoting Tasmanian veterinarians on animal health investigation of pets in Rosebery.

Dr Ron Harris, local vet for the area admits that 'He said he can’t speculate about or competently comment on the cause of death for those animals about which concerns have been raised, because he didn’t examine them.' Yet, after reviewing clinical records he fails to say which animals he reviewed and on what basis. He has not been specific about what he has used in his assessment review, cited anecdotal evidence but provided no results from clinical assessments or laboratory tests. Dr Harris provides no tenable explanation for not collecting relevant samples. In the Rosebery situation especially, costs for laboratory testing should never be a barrier to obtaining a diagnosis and the consultant veterinarian would need to explain the value of the tests ordered and the resulting costs.

It is an unacceptable excuse for Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr Mary Lou Conway to claim ‘confidentiality’ for an inability to comment; either there are clinico-pathological cases supported with laboratory test data that substantiates Dr Harris’ conclusions or there aren’t.

The statement attributed to Dr Conway that ' she said the symptoms identified in some dogs and cats are consistent with stomach cancer or other illnesses which can be genetic' is astonishing. Stomach cancers are rare in both these species and if there are multiple cases diagnosed from the Rosebery area through laboratory tests or a veterinary examination they need to be presented.

Dr Conway failed to tell us how many cases by species have been submitted to Mt Pleasant animal Health Laboratory for the past 11 years to determine what is the basis for her assertion that there is ‘no evidence of a Rosebery-wide cluster of ill health in animals’. Dr Conway 'said animal data for valid comparison is limited' yet previously stated that the interrogations of the databases found no evidence; but now the data has become ‘limited’.

Before Dr Conway begins to discuss ‘quarantining processes within the body that reduce the risk or effects of toxicity' she would need to detail her general toxin dose comment. These statements are unhelpful.

Dr Conway has focused on 'a single or closely grouped multiple exposure event' but has not considered the possibility of chronic exposure to one or more putative toxins. Has Dr Conway undertaken any Rosebery survey of pet health to ascertain whether there have been any ‘closely grouped exposure events’?

If a veterinarian is unsure of the cause of toxicity he/she may suggest some diagnostic tests to determine a ‘definitive’ diagnosis. Any ‘generic treatment’ based on ‘non-specific’ signs could be seen as professionally incompetent. Yet Bronwyn Hill writes 'She said the signs of toxicity are often non-specific and require generic treatment to promote survival while a definitive diagnosis is reached.'

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