Animal disease surveillance

The UK veterinary surveillance network is vital to ensuring that threats to public health, trade, and wider society from animal diseases are identified and managed. 

There are two types of veterinary surveillance: statutory surveillance, which deals with the management of notifiable diseases, such as foot and mouth disease and rabies, and scanning surveillance, which enables the early detection of new and re-emerging animal related threats, e.g. Schmallenberg virus.

In December 2014 the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) announced a new structure for disease scanning surveillance in England and Wales. The plans have resulted in six of the 14 veterinary surveillance centres being closed around England and Wales, and this has caused ongoing concerns about the robustness of the UK’s disease surveillance network.

Engaging with the surveillance network

BVA's Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey shows that, where there have been changes to post-mortem facilities since 2014, a third of vets affected thought their access to facilities had deteriorated and, where there have been laboratory closures, three-quarters of vets had seen carcase submission rates decline.

Watch our Veterinary View video about the importance of having a robust surveillance network. 

Reporting notifiable diseases

Notifiable diseases in animals must be reported to government authorities. These are:

Tell us your views on the UK's surveillance network and health and disease monitoring

Following our survey for England and Wales, the BVA Surveillance Working Group has developed localised surveys for the profession in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What does scanning surveillance mean to you? Who should ‘own’ it? What would encourage you and your colleagues to engage more with current networks in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Tell the BVA Surveillance Working Group in its 'Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ survey, which BVA has developed in consultation with its relevant species divisions and devolved branches.

Each year BVA members tell us that disease surveillance is a top policy priority for the profession, the BVA Surveillance Working Group wants to find out why.

BVA wants to hear from all areas of work across the profession, including small animal and those not currently in practice, to inform BVA’s pan-professional position on disease surveillance and key asks for the Government to improve the current system.

Take the ‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ survey for Scotland

Take the ‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ survey for Northern Ireland

Collecting surveillance data from farm animals

In England and Wales farm animal carcases can be sent to an APHA Veterinary Investigation Centre or one of APHA's partner sites for post-mortem examination. A free carcase collection service is available in some areas (see APHA's postcode search tool).

In addition to post-mortem examinations, APHA also undertakes diagnostic laboratory testing and has produced guidance for vets on sample and test selection and packing.

In Scotland, post-mortems and diagnostic testing are conducted by eight disease surveillance centres.

In Northern Ireland, animal disease diagnostic services are provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) laboratories in Stormont and Omagh

Collecting surveillance data from companion animals

For companion animals, surveillance data can be collected from veterinary practice management systems. The two initiatives in the UK which collect this data are:

    Our activity on animal disease surveillance

    Resources on animal disease surveillance