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Better surveillance of livestock needed, warns BVA

A ‘robust surveillance system’ is vital to the health of UK livestock, claims the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Following the precautions against Avian Influenza further strengthened last week and reports of Schmallenberg Virus cases across the country, the anniversary of the devastating 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak (19 February) the BVA is reminding livestock owners to be vigilant.
BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey shows 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 carcass submission rates decline.

Gudrun Ravetz, president, British Veterinary Association, 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 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.”

As part of BVA’s principles for negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU, the association is also calling on the Government to ensure the maintenance of reciprocal surveillance data sharing with Europe, and internationally.

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