Animal disease surveillance

What is veterinary surveillance/animal health and disease monitoring?

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:

Surveillance doesn’t just cover livestock species and herd health, but spans equine, wildlife and companion animals too. In companion animal practice 'veterinary surveillance' or 'disease surveillance' is better known as 'animal health and disease monitoring'.

Regardless of species area, BVA attributes equal importance to veterinary surveillance and animal health and disease monitoring across livestock, equine, wildlife and companion animals.

Ultimately, continued monitoring of new and emerging disease through data collection, analysis and sharing across species provides high-quality intelligence on animal health and welfare that enables policy makers, veterinary professionals and animal keepers to take decisions to improve animal health and welfare, productivity, and identify and manage threats to public health, trade, food quality, the environment and leisure and tourism.

What role do vets play in animal health and disease monitoring?

Every day veterinary surgeons across different areas of practice and research routinely participate in different surveillance related activities to contribute to the surveillance network and safeguard the UK’s animals, humans and trade opportunities. The breadth of beneficiaries of veterinary surveillance and animal health and disease monitoring activities is vast, spanning the Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and their respective regional equivalents, and, perhaps most importantly, animals across all species areas.

A list of veterinary surveillance activities is included in the BVA position on veterinary scanning surveillance (animal health and disease monitoring).

Watch our Veterinary View video to see some of the ways vets contribute to animal health and disease monitoring across species areas:

BVA Position on veterinary scanning surveillance (animal health and disease monitoring)

Developed through its surveillance working group, the BVA position on veterinary scanning surveillance calls on the UK Governments and other key stakeholders to work collaboratively to modernise and optimise existing animal health and disease monitoring networks across species areas, including livestock, equine, wildlife and companion animals. We set out 25 recommendations on how to achieve this through:

  • Maintaining the current level of Government resource spent on the scanning surveillance network
  • Adopting new approaches to data collection and feedback
  • Optimising appropriate skills and expertise
  • Rethinking traditional approaches to funding and coordination
  • Articulating the value of surveillance reporting to the veterinary profession and other stakeholders through education to increase awareness and participation
  • Working collaboratively with stakeholders to explore innovative communication strategies

Read the BVA position on veterinary scanning surveillance (animal health and disease monitoring) – Executive summary (PDF 413 KB)

Read the BVA position on veterinary scanning surveillance (animal health and disease monitoring) – in full (PDF 1.25 MB)

I’m a vet - How and where can I contribute to surveillance?

How can I collect and report surveillance data from:

What’s in it for me? Read our blog from BVA surveillance working group Chair, Kate Sharpe, outlining the value vets can derive from contributing to animal health and disease monitoring.

How do I report notifiable diseases?

Notifiable diseases in animals must be reported to government authorities even if you only suspect that an animal might be affected. These relevant authorities to report to are:

How can I collect surveillance data from farm animals?

Over 80% of vets we surveyed submit animal material to the UK surveillance network – do you?

England and Wales

Farm animal post-mortems and diagnostic testing are conducted by APHA Veterinary Investigation Centre or one of APHA's partner sites. Check your nearest APHA Veterinary Investigation Centre of partner site.

A free carcase collection service is available in some areas (see APHA's postcode search tool).

See more information about services available via the APHA Vet Gateway: ‘Surveillance and Diagnostics’ information and services page and get more detail on how to submit samples through APHA’s Guidance on sample and test selection.

Read the most recent APHA animal disease information reports.

Scotland

Farm animal post-mortems and diagnostic testing are conducted by eight disease surveillance centres. Check your nearest disease investigation centre.

For more support on submitting samples read the SACCVS guidance on getting the best diagnostic samples and SACCVS guidance on how to send samples.

Northern Ireland

Farm animal disease diagnostic services are provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) laboratories in Stormont and Omagh.

Read the most recent AFBI animal disease surveillance reports (Northern Ireland).

How can I collect surveillance data from companion animals?

83% of vets we surveyed told us they thought national small animal health and disease monitoring is useful – do you?

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

Both initiative have a range of interactive resources to help you derive value from contributing animal health and disease monitoring surveillance data. These include: SAVSNET in real time and VetCompass interactive resources.

What can I do about Alabama Rot?

We know there’s increasing public concern about Alabama Rot (Non azotaemic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy), Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, leaders in research into this condition, have produced an advice sheet for vets and a a veterinary information sheet.

For clients, vets can signpost to the Anderson Moores CRGV/Alabama Rot information sheet for clients.

Both vets and clients can also see a heat map of confirmed cases of Alabama Rot on the Vets4Pets #stopalabamarot map.

How can I collect surveillance data from equines?

Across the UK, the Animal Health Trust collects epidemiological and disease surveillance information from equines through different named condition schemes.

In Scotland, Capitol Diagnostics also carry out post-mortems and diagnostic testing for equines.

Read the latest Defra/AHT/BEVA equine quarterly disease surveillance reports. You can also register to receive Defra/AHT/BEVA equine quarterly disease surveillance reports direct to your inbox.

How can I collect surveillance data from wildlife?

In Great Britain wildlife disease surveillance is provided by the APHA Diseases of Wildlife Scheme. Read the latest APHA Veterinary Record monthly disease surveillance report.

If you have found something new, unusual, severe, or unresponsive in relation to wildlife diseases, please contact the Wildlife Expert Group veterinary lead, Paul Duff (01768 885295), or your nearest Veterinary Investigation Centre.