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You are here: Home > Food and farming > Farm animals > Animal diseases

Animal diseases

Many of the diseases we are most concerned about are “notifiable” (that is, there are legal requirements on animal keepers). During an exotic disease outbreak our website will provide the latest situation – Defra takes the lead, with partners, in responding to the disease.

Key information

Latest news

We are in the process of moving information into this new, dedicated area of our website covering animal diseases. In the meantime some pages may link to content or files which are still on our old site.


Vigilance and good stockmanship for all kept animals, including those kept as pets are vital in the fight against animal disease. Monitoring animals for signs of disease, and following good farming and biosecurity practices are essential ways of reducing the risk of disease and preventing the spread of disease during an outbreak.

Notifiable diseases, which if suspected are to be reported to your local office of the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), are in an A-Z table linking to information pages about the diseases.

Animal diseases to be notified to your local AHVLA can be “endemic” (those which are already present in the UK, such as Bovine TB), “exotic” (those that are not normally present in the UK, but can be introduced for example via illegal imports or by wild birds), and/or “zoonotic” (those that can pass between animals and humans, such as rabies).

Defra is required under EU law to operate disease control programmes for some diseases (eg Salmonella in poultry), and monitor trends for others, in order to minimise the risk to public health.

Key facts and figures

  • There have been over 14 exotic disease outbreaks in the last 10 years including foot and mouth disease, bird flu and bluetongue.
  • The costs of disease outbreaks range from £2 million (minor) to over £3 billion (major outbreak).

General publications

Page last modified: 5 August 2011