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Veterinary Surveillance in the UK

Scottish Executive logo and link to website Welsh Assembly Government logo and link to website DARDNI logo and link to website Veterinary surveillance is the term used to describe everything we do both to collect information about diseases affecting animals and to make sure that the information gets to those who need it.

It is an important element of Defra’s preparedness for responding to new and emerging threats to animal and public health. This is because the geographic distribution and types of animal disease changes over time, and therefore it is necessary to survey disease in animal populations, to ensure that we have an up to date picture.

The UK Strategy for enhancing Veterinary Surveillance (VSS) was developed in partnership, following the emergence of BSE and the devastating FMD epidemic of 2001. Independent enquiries into these disease events concluded that Government must improve the reliability with which it identified animal disease threats.

The VSS was developed to put in place procedures and ways of working which would reliably ensure the early detection and assessment of new diseases, other animal-related threats such as chemical contamination and intoxication, and incursions of exotic diseases. Early detection of diseases enables prompt and suitable interventions, and minimises the associated cost and adverse effects.

Scanning surveillance for new and emerging disease relies, to a large extent, on the network of VLA’s regional laboratories although increasingly other sources of data are being exploited in partnership with other bodies. 

The VSS was reviewed in 2010 to "take stock" in relation to what has been achieved, to consider what has changed since 2003 (including the RCS initiative, the Spending Review, Devolution and Climate Change), whether there are changed requirements, and what this means for future approaches to Veterinary Surveillance.  

Defra is in the process of implementing the recommendations of the review in collaboration with the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Blood sweating disease

November 2009: Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) publishes Q&A on a newly identified disease which affects calves known as ‘Blood sweating disease’ (also known as idiopathic haemorrhagic diathesis of calves).

New Wildlife Health Strategy

15 June 2009: Defra has published a new Wildlife Health Strategy setting out a general approach to tackling wildlife disease.

Want to find out more about an animal disease or condition?

We provide information about diseases that affect animals. Access our A-Z index of diseases. Some diseases must be reported to us. More information...

We also provide information on antimicrobial resistance.

Want to find out more about how we look for animal diseases in the UK?

We collect and publish information about animal diseases. This Information is available as surveillance reports or source data through the links below.

Want to know more about animal diseases overseas?

Find out about the occurrence of animal disease outbreaks around the world and how we monitor them. Access our qualitative risk analyses which estimate the likelihood of disease entering the UK.

How will the UK Veterinary Surveillance Strategy make a difference?

Read our Strategy and about how we are implementing it. Contact us for more information.

Page last modified: February 7, 2011

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