Alps, Allergy and Alot More!

Avacta’s Senior Veterinary Technical Manager, Johanna Gourlay and Principal Scientist Allergy & Dermatology, Jennifer Bexley, have recently attended the European Society and College of Veterinary Dermatology in Lausanne, Switzerland.



The 30th Annual Congress of the European Society and College of Veterinary Dermatology, was held earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland. In my previous life as a non-specialised small animal practitioner, despite a keen interest in dermatology, I would have felt a little intimidated attending a focused European event such as this, incorrectly presuming it would be too academic to be practically helpful at my level. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The congress was held over three days and each was split into three streams; Dermatology in Practice, Advances in Clinical Dermatology and the Cutting Edge Programme. This enabled you to select from a variety of subject areas and also at a level you felt was relevant. Canine, feline and equine topics were explored, as well as fascinating insights into the latest thoughts on human atopic eczema.

Three, of the many, interesting points from the lectures I attended were:

  • In children who are genetically filaggrin deficient (filaggrin is part of skin barrier) early exposure to cats was shown to increase the chance of eczema, whereas exposure to dogs decreased the risk.
  • Equine atopic dermatitis commonly co-exists with insect bite hypersensitivity (a bit like atopic dogs also often having flea allergy dermatitis).
  • In a small study of cats with idiopathic head and neck dermatitis, environmental modification (following behavioural evaluation) was successful for long-term resolution of clinical signs. The impact of stress on dermatological cases and providing a more holistic approach may be something to consider for the future. The need for a holistic attitude, in the true sense of the word, was also discussed elsewhere at the conference.

Other ‘hot topics’ of the congress included; whether helminth and other endoparasite exposure at the correct age (or in utero) provide defence against atopic disease, the importance of the microbiome and how this can be utilised in therapy and the advent of monoclonal antibody therapies. With such a diverse range of treatment options available in practice, it’s now a question of knowing which to use when, thinking of them as reactive and proactive solutions and tailoring the best option to the individual patient (and then modifying when required).

As well as the cerebral work-out, there was much fun to be had at the social events in the evenings. The welcoming ceremony was held at the Olympic Museum, which provided a stunning venue by the banks of Lake Geneva, with entertainment in the museum itself (although I was disappointed to learn I am unlikely to achieve Olympic glory in anything involving running or shooting). We even found a perfectly named chemist on the way through to the museum at the Metro stop in a place called ‘Ouchy’. The following night was the dinner dance in Grandvaux, a beautiful quaint village just outside Lausanne again overlooking Lake Geneva.


In summary, the content of lecture material was diverse enough to offer something for everyone and provided practical straightforward guidance that could immediately be implemented in general practice to advance your dermatology case work-ups. The atmosphere of the congress was extremely welcoming and the social events gave the opportunity to meet and mingle with the great and the good of the dermatology world. I would highly recommend attendance for anyone with an interest in dermatology and I hope to see some of you in Croatia in September 2018!

Written by Johanna Gourlay – Senior Veterinary Technical Manager


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