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Detecting and managing new animal health threats: how vulnerable are we?
  1. Carla Correia-Gomes, DVM, MSc, PhD, MRCVS and
  2. Harriet K. Auty, BSc, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, DipECVPH,
  1. SRUC Research, Epidemiology Research Unit, Inverness Campus, Inverness IV2 5NA, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: carla.gomes{at}

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IN an ideal scenario, disease surveillance is nearly invisible. If all goes well, you can almost forget it’s there. However, when things don’t go well it represents the only way to quantify, prevent and mitigate disease outbreaks. The vulnerability of animal agriculture worldwide to notifiable and emerging diseases is regularly demonstrated, with significant impacts on food security and economic stability. The UK is not immune to this, as recent incursions of avian influenza have reminded us. Official authorities must be wary of such incursions and possess processes to respond to and manage such events, including preventing the introduction of exotic and emerging animal pathogens, detecting and managing outbreaks of exotic disease, and having an appropriate response system to control and eradicate disease in case of introduction (Torres and others 2002).

The paper by Kosmider and others (2017), summarised on p 67 of this week’s issue of Veterinary Record, describes in detail how animal-related threats and vulnerabilities are identified in the UK, and how these threats are assessed and managed. The risk management cycle starts with the UK Veterinary Risk Group (VRG), which represents a network of teams across animal and public health throughout the UK that …

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