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BVA President warns against ‘false economies’ in surveillance

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THERE is much in the current system of surveillance in England and Wales that is valued by vets and by the farming industry, and it is essential that these elements are not lost as the AHVLA's plans for reforming surveillance progress.

So said the BVA President, Peter Harlech Jones, addressing guests at the Association's annual dinner in London last week. The dinner, on February 26, provided an opportunity to bring issues of current veterinary interest to the attention of policy makers and others from government and the wider agricultural industry.

Mr Jones said that the elements of the surveillance system that were particularly valued included the close relationship between private practitioners and Veterinary Investigation Officers; local networks; and the provision of an early warning system. While the need to make financial savings was recognised, he said that any impact on future capacity to deliver effective scanning surveillance was ‘surely a false economy’.

The emergence of Schmallenberg virus in the UK, and the arrival of bluetongue before it, provided perfect examples of the need for robust surveillance systems, excellent research facilities and an understanding of the risks involved in sourcing animals, he said. ‘Ultimately, we need a system that maintains the current high level of quality and that can respond effectively to disease threats. Threats that are on the rise with increasing movements of people and animals across the globe, and the consequences of a changing climate.’

A strong surveillance capacity underpinned more than just the ability to detect and respond to disease – the integrity of the food chain also relied on it, said Mr Jones. Referring to the recent finding of horsemeat in products being sold as beef, he noted that this had undermined confidence …

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