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Key roles of the private veterinarian

Detection, early investigation and reporting

Early detection and immediate reporting of a suspected EAD increases the chance of effective and efficient eradication if an EAD is confirmed. This is a critical point as time delay to detection of an outbreak of an emergency animal disease directly affects the size of the outbreak and the likelihood that the disease can be eradicated1. For example, the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom was only detected several weeks after introduction2. In the 10 days before detection, infected animals had moved through four livestock markets, seeding clusters across Great Britain3. This diminished the effectiveness of the culling strategy and led to widespread impacts. Every day counted and if the national movement ban had come into force just 2 days earlier, the epidemic could have been half its eventual size4.

Time to disease detection is influenced by the efficacy of the surveillance system. Private veterinarians are a part of Australia’s passive surveillance through their reporting and notification of disease cases. Passive surveillance is important for early warning of increased disease occurrence and as a first stage in identifying new and emerging diseases. The effectiveness of passive surveillance depends on disease awareness and willingness to report.

Surveillance for EADs requires veterinarians in the field to be able to determine when history, signalment, and clinical signs warrant an investigation to rule in or out an EAD. Unusual or unexplained clinical signs or deaths in animals should be reported. It is better to suspect an EAD and have your suspicion disproven than miss the first case of an EAD.


Make a list of clinical signs in the box below that would lead you to suspect an EAD. Submit to compare the clinical signs that should be included.

1 East, I., Martin, P., Langstaff, I., Iglesias, R., Sergeant, E., Garner, M., (2016). Assessing the delay to detection and the size of the outbreak at the time of detection of incursions of foot and mouth disease in Australia. Prev. Vet. Med. 123, 1-11.
2 Gibbens, JC., Wilesmith, JW., Sharpe, CE., Mansley, LM., Michalopoulou, E., Ryan, JBM., Hudson, M. (2001). Descriptive epidemiology of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in Great Britain: the first five months Veterinary Record 149, 729-743.
3 Shirley, M., & Rushton, S. (2005). Where diseases and networks collide: Lessons to be learnt from a study of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic. Epidemiology and Infection, 133(6), 1023-1032. doi:10.1017/S095026880500453X.
4 Haydon, D., Chase–Topping, M., Shaw, D., Matthews, L., Friar, J., Wilesmith, J. and Woolhouse, M. (2003). The construction and analysis of epidemic trees with reference to the 2001 UK foot–and–mouth outbreak. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 270(1511), pp.121-127.