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Surveillance focus
Review of animal health threats by the UK’s Veterinary Risk Group

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The Veterinary Risk Group (VRG) ensures systematic and timely assessment of threats and vulnerabilities to animal health by identifying, assessing, characterising, prioritising and escalating identified threats through a transparent and auditable technical process (APHA 2016). Ultimately, the VRG aims to decrease the impact of animal-related (animal health and welfare) threats to the UK by providing advice on options for risk management in order to mitigate their impact when, and if, they materialise (Kosmider and others 2017).

There are two information types captured and discussed by the VRG:

• Unexpected threats and vulnerabilities (T&Vs);

• Points for information (PFIs) .

Unexpected T&Vs are those threats to animal health and welfare, both those detected in the UK and abroad, that have a potentially significant impact on public health, animal health and welfare, international trade or wider society (the four ‘reasons for government intervention’ originally set out in the GB Animal Health and Welfare Strategy), or have a potential reputational impact, for example, due to perceived risk, if they are not (or are unable to be) managed or mitigated. These will also be threats that do not already have a clear policy owner or could potentially sit within multiple government policy groups.

PFIs are matters of interest that do not require additional action or are not directly in the remit of the VRG (eg, they have already been mitigated) as described above.

In 2016, six new T&Vs were submitted, of which three were from scanning surveillance, one from the Defra Animal Welfare Policy Team, one from the Zoonoses Team and one from toxicology.

A total of 47 PFIs were also submitted during the year, each of which was attributable …

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