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Defra updates notifiable disease contingency plan

28th Nov 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has published an updated contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases of animals in England. 

With African swine fever currently lurking in Europe, NPA members are urged to familiarise themselves with it. 

You can view the plan here

It explains how animal keepers can help prevent diseases in animals, what they must do if they suspect disease and how the government responds to disease. 

It says the responsibility for preventing outbreaks of exotic notifiable disease, reporting suspicion and dealing with them when they do occur is shared between government, operational partners and stakeholders.

There are clear legal requirements on animal keepers (for example reporting notifiable disease, complying with any restrictions, maintaining any records required by law, undertaking and paying for final cleansing and disinfection). But there are also clear practical advantages for stakeholders and government alike when responsibility is shared, the plan adds.

It says: "As animal keepers you are responsible for the health and welfare of your animals. You should check and monitor for any signs of ill health. These could be changes in behaviour, a loss of condition, lameness, stopping eating or drinking, vocalising more or developing skin or hide lesions.

"You should follow good biosecurity at all times, regularly check the health of your livestock, poultry and individual animals, and monitor them for changes in production. Reviewing production records can help you to detect disease early. If you are concerned about the health of your animals (including birds and companion animals/pets) you should consult your vet promptly."

This contingency plan describes how the government will manage an outbreak or incident of exotic notifiable disease of animals in England.

If a notifiable exotic disease is confirmed in England, Defra will take action – in partnership with operational partners and stakeholders to:

  • stamp out the disease, so that we can regain our disease-free status. This may involve the disease control measures described in this publication
  • protect the health and safety both of the public and of those directly involved in controlling the outbreak
  • keep to a minimum the economic effects on the taxpayer, the public and the farming industry

Within its disease control objective, Defra aims to:

  • keep to a minimum the number of animals that die or need to be humanely destroyed, whether for disease control purposes or to safeguard animal health and welfare
  • balance adverse effects on animal health and welfare, the rural and wider economy, the public, rural communities and the environment

For most diseases, it will do this by:

  • taking action on the infected premises (IP) and other premises (contact premises) where disease is most likely to have spread from and to
  • declaring movement control zones such as protection zones (PZ), surveillance zones (SZ) or restricted zones (RZ) as required by EU and national legislation. This includes animal controls and controls on animal products, taking into account the risk of disease spread. In the case of Foot and Mouth Disease, the GB administrations will immediately impose movement restrictions across the whole of Great Britain if disease is confirmed
  • restricting activities that might increase the risk of spread – for example there might be a ban on hunting or shooting
  • considering banning gatherings of animals including shows or market
  • considering export bans
  • considering compulsory housing of animals susceptible to the disease
  • investigating the origin of the disease and determining whether there has been further spread of disease from that source
  • completing other surveillance to investigate possible further spread of disease

If disease is confirmed on your premises you will need to continue to comply with the restrictions and measures put in place on your farm until the disease is stamped out and restrictions are lifted.