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David Black award: And the winner is...

2nd Nov 2016 / By Alistair Driver

The winner of the 2016 David Black Award is Dr Susanna Williamson, a distinguished vet who was praised by the judges in particular for her work on dealing with the potential threat posed by PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea).

Susanna WilliamsonDr Williamson is a veterinary lead for the Pig Expert Group at the Animal Health and Plant Agency and is president of the Pig Veterinary Society. 

Receiving her award, Dr Williamson stressed the importance of a collaborative approach to addressing the threat posed by diseases like PEDv and responding to new requirements surrounding antibiotic use on farms.

In their citation, the judges said: "Sussanna has devoted her time, energy and considerable talent in in service to pig producers and she contributes greatly to keeping this country safe from the threats of existing and emerging disease. In fact she has made a significant and lasting contribution to the British pig industry."

She told politicians and industry leaders: “It is important to recognise that successful disease surveillance is about working in partnership, and also requires access to a wide range of veterinary, scientific and technical expertise.

“This is especially important as the industry survives to address disease issues and minimise antimicrobial use.”

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so producers need to consult their veterinary and other advisers to choose interventions customised to their pigs and their farm. I have been hearing from colleagues in practice of some excellent progress and would encourage examples of cost-effective working, but there is still some way to go.”

Susanna has been based in APHA Bury St Edmunds since 2000, moving there just weeks before the Classical Swine Fever outbreak, and has been involved in the diagnosis and investigation of many disease outbreaks in pigs, as well as projects on bacterial and viral diseases of pigs.

She leads scanning surveillance activities at APHA in pigs to detect, investigate and tackle new and emerging disease threats, such as virulent porcine epidemic diarrhoea, as well as understanding diseases already in our pigs. 

The award went down well with all at the event. Rob Mutiner, from the eastern region said: "It is a thoroughly desereved award. She has always been there to help when we have had a problem and always deals with it very quickly. She has made a huge contribution to the industry."