BVA survey reveals data surveillance concerns

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has reiterated the importance of a “robust surveillance system” and how vital it is to the health of UK livestock. 

The BVA’s recent Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey showed that, where there have been changes to post-mortem facilities since 2014, a third of vets affected thought their access to facilities had deteriorated and, where there have been laboratory closures, three-quarters of vets had seen carcase submission rates decline.

Gudrun Ravetz, president of the BVA, said: “Disease is unpredictable, particularly new diseases and novel strains of diseases in our increasingly globalised world. As a country we need to be alert to the threat posed to our livestock, food chain and agricultural business by disease incursions.

“While we understand the need to update and, in places, consolidate laboratory services, our survey figures show how the closure of laboratories and the cutting of resource to APHA [Animal and Plant Health Agency] services affect vets’ and farmers’ access to laboratories. Vets’ frontline roles must be recognised and supported, backed up by an effective, coordinated system of data capture that will enable us to make the necessary links to detect and control new disease threats, protect food safety and safeguard animal and human health.”

Disease control was also identified by BVA members as one of their top three highest priorities in relation to Brexit, with veterinary surgeons specifically citing zoonotic disease and a “break down in surveillance communication” among the issues they were most worried about.

In response to these concerns, the BVA is calling on the government to ensure resources for existing disease control and eradication programmes and surveillance systems are maintained to ensure the UK has effective and adequately resourced systems for detecting new and emerging diseases, and urging the government to ensure the maintenance of reciprocal surveillance data-sharing with Europe, and internationally.

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