Climate warning from CVO

The UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) has warned that climate change could pose a major threat animal health in the future.


In his 2008 report on animal health, published by Defra last week, CVO Nigel Gibbons said global warming might bring new diseases to the UK, as well as alter the incidence and distribution of endemic diseases. He added that action to reduce the impact of meat production could change the structure and operation of livestock industries, potentially increasing the risk of disease.

Gibbons said that animal health services must ensure they are fit to address these challenges and minimise impact wherever possible. “While there is uncertainty about the speed and nature of change, what is certain is that we must maintain and develop our capacity to detect and respond to new threats,” he said.

We need to ensure good surveillance, research and laboratory diagnostic capacity and effective delivery of animal health and welfare controls in the field – not just our emergency response but those designed to prevent problems or reduce their impact.”

Looking at the current state of animal health, the report pointed out that there have been several success stories in 2008 – such as a reduction in incidents of exotic diseases, a successful bluetongue vaccination programme and effective control of two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

It recognised that there were ongoing challenges for animal health, however, particularly the struggle to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

Defra has said it will now review whether there is a continuing need for an annual CVO report, given the large amount of information now provided electronically on its websites and in the annual reports of the national administrations and delivery partners. Views are invited and can be sent to

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