New Animal Health Surveillance website launched today

A new Animal Health Surveillance website has been officially launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in Dublin today (Thursday, August 30).

In July of last year, the minister launched the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy – which encompassed a number of initiatives, including the Animal Health Surveillance Strategy.

A key recommendation in the strategy was that a dedicated animal health surveillance website be developed to provide “timely and accurate information” to relevant stakeholders, a statement from the department explained.

Animal health surveillance has been defined as “the systematic collection, collation, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of animal health and welfare data from defined populations”.

This process is essentially about gathering intelligence to detect either novel animal health related events or increases in animal health related events as early as possible to better inform risk management at all levels within the industry, the statement continued.

The department outlined that surveillance is a “key factor in protecting, maintaining and improving our animal health status, thereby maximising the economic return for farmers from their animals – while helping to maintain high animal welfare standards”.

The animal health related events of interest may include:
  • The incursion of an exotic disease, such as Foot and Mouth disease;
  • The re-emergence of a disease which was previously eradicated – such as brucellosis – or a spike in an endemic disease, such as mastitis in dairy cows, pneumonia in beef cattle or liver fluke in sheep;
  • From a trade perspective, it is hugely important to demonstrate freedom from specific diseases – such as Bluetongue. The demonstration of freedom from such diseases requires the provision of objective evidence, upon which such declarations can be made.

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Creed said: “Today’s farmers need information to manage risk in all aspects of their businesses, including maintaining the health of their animals.

“Strategies to manage animal health risk include vaccination, strategic dosing for parasites and good biosecurity practices. But to make such decisions effectively, farmers must be well informed.

“To facilitate improving farmer’s understanding of disease risk, the department has developed a surveillance website to help ensure that ongoing, accurate animal health related information is provided to all relevant stakeholders.”

It is hoped that the website can be promoted as a “shop window” through which Ireland’s high animal health status can be “appreciated”. The website can be accessed here.