Animal Health Focus JULY 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Animal Health Surveillance David J. Quinn – Veterinary Inspector SAT Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – o ers an overview of animal health surveillance in Ireland. Animal Health Surveillance (AHS) is the collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of information on animal health. It aids policy and decision making, and is a key tool in optimising the health status of our national herd, and in maintaining and increasing our share of export markets. Animal diseases and chemical hazards can have disastrous economic consequences for the livestock industry, and are very real threats. Surveillance aims to limit the negative impacts of these threats through the early detection and appropriate management of such risks. Globalisation has resulted in the increased movement of people, animals and animal by-products all across the world. This movement is achieved in much shorter transit times than was previously possible. Animal diseases do not stop at national borders, consequently increased movements coupled with changing farming practices mean that it is inevitable that there will be new diseases seen in parts of the world where they have never been seen before. Many of these diseases pose a threat not only to animal health but also to human health. It was from this context that the concept of AHS grew. Apart from the risks associated with new or exotic disease, endemic diseases such as liver fluke and mastitis limit production and impose an ongoing economic burden of farmers. Healthy animals are more e cient at transforming inputs into food outputs, thus maximising profitability, supporting competitiveness and reducing the need for antimicrobials. Surveillance is a key factor in facilitating an elevated health status, thereby ensuring that farmers can get the maximum economic output from their animals. (AHI). AHI is also involved in passive surveillance through the Beef Health Check programme. Further passive surveillance is carried out by the Department in the Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVL). Carcasses, blood samples, scour samples; swabs etc are all tested in these locations. The quality of the samples submitted to the RVLs greatly a ects the quality of the information that is gained from the sample. Farmers and private veterinary practitioners play a key role in AHS. They are the first line of defence in the face of an outbreak of an exotic or emerging disease. A surveillance system cannot function correctly without their participation and cooperation The Marine Institute, Teagasc and the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine also play an important role in AHS. Dissemination of surveillance information The Department has established a website specifically for surveillance activities (www.animalhealthsurveillance. agriculture.gov.ie). This site provides information on a wide array of diseases. Some of these diseases are of direct interest to farmers, while others may not be of direct interest to farmers, but it is necessary to document freedom to trade partners. A new portal on production diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and abortion is being developed. Benefits of surveillance Reduced disease levels, and the ability to prove freedom from specific disease benefits both farmers and the public Benefits to farmers 1) 2) 3) 4) Less livestock disease and mortality; Less antimicrobial use; Less production losses; More e cient use of resources and greater profitability. Surveillance in Ireland Surveillance can be broadly categorised into two headings, active surveillance and passive surveillance. Active surveillance is when a specific risk is targeted within a specific population. A good example of this is the BVD eradication scheme. The specific risk targeted is BVD, while the specific population is the national cattle herd. Passive surveillance on the other hand is much broader and does not focus on one specific disease. It involves the reporting of new or unusual conditions by farmers, private veterinary practitioners and others. It was this type of surveillance that ultimately led to the discovery of BSE in the UK in the 1980s, as a significant number of farmers began reporting unusual symptoms and behaviour in cows. In Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is responsible for the bulk of the active surveillance activities. The BSE, Brucellosis, bovine TB and Aujeskeys eradication schemes are all examples of Department-run active surveillance programmes. While the BVD eradication programme is an active surveillance programme managed by Animal Health Ireland Public benefits 1) Increased agricultural exports improve the economic wellbeing of the country, particularly in rural areas; 2) Increased investor confidence in the Agri-Food sector; 3) Increased consumer confidence in food safety systems; 4) Reduced CO2 emissions by increasing e ciency of animals. What can you do to help? 1) Contact your vet or Regional Veterinary O ce if you notice any strange or unusual symptoms in any of your animals; 2) Send dead animals to your local Regional Veterinary Laboratory for post mortem if advised to do so by your vet; 3) Report any suspicions of a notifiable disease to your private veterinary practitioner Regional Veterinary O ce; 4) Keep good on-farm records; 5) Follow disease and animal health related advice issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 36