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Syndromic surveillance by veterinary practitioners: a pilot study in the pig sector
  1. Carla Correia-Gomes1,2,
  2. Madeleine Kate Henry1,2,
  3. Susanna Williamson3,
  4. Richard M Irvine4,
  5. George J Gunn1,2,
  6. Nigel Woolfenden5,
  7. Mark E. C. White6 and
  8. Sue C Tongue1,2
  1. 1 Epidemiology Research Unit, SRUC (Inverness Campus) Epidemiology Research Unit, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 SRUC (Inverness Campus) Epidemiology Research Unit, An Lochran, Inverness Campus, Inverness, UK
  3. 3 Animal and Plant Health Agency, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK
  4. 4 Surveillance Intelligence Unit, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Addlestone, Surrey, UK
  5. 5 RAFT Solutions, RAFT Solutions, Ripon, North Yorkshire, UK
  6. 6 Pig Veterinary Society, Pig Veterinary Society, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; carla.gomes{at}


Traditional indicator-based livestock surveillance has been focused on case definitions, definitive diagnoses and laboratory confirmation. The use of syndromic disease surveillance would increase the population base from which animal health data are captured and facilitate earlier detection of new and re-emerging threats to animal health. Veterinary practitioners could potentially play a vital role in such activities. In a pilot study, specialist private veterinary practitioners (PVP) working in the English pig industry were asked to collect and transfer background data and disease incident reports for pig farms visited during the study period. Baseline data from 110 pig farms were received, along with 68 disease incident reports. Reports took an average of approximately 25 minutes to complete. Feedback from the PVPs indicated that they saw value in syndromic surveillance. Maintenance of anonymity in the outputs would be essential, as would timely access for the PVPs to relevant information on syndromic trends. Further guidance and standardisation would also be required. Syndromic surveillance by PVPs is possible for the pig industry. It has potential to fill current gaps in the collection of animal health data, as long as the engagement and participation of data providers can be obtained and maintained.

  • disease surveillance
  • health
  • pigs
  • veterinary profession
  • farm animals
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  • CC-G and MKH contributed equally.

  • Contributors CCG was involved in developing the concept, the template for the field trial, the standardisation day, the website creation, collating the data, analysis of the results, interpretation of the results and writing the manuscript. MKH was involved in operational aspects of the collation of field data. She originally drafted and wrote the manuscript. SW was involved in developing the concept, the template for the field trial, the standardisation day, developing the questionnaire for the PVP feedback, interpretation of the results, and contributed to the manuscript. RMI contributed to the writing of the manuscript. GJG was involved in acquiring the funding and read the manuscript. NW was involved in developing the templates for the field trial, organised the standardisation days, participated in the field trial and read the manuscript. MW was involved in the development of the templates for the field trial, participated in the field trial and read the manuscript. SCT provided leadership in the original development of the programme of work, subsequent management, direction and epidemiological oversight of the field study, and contributed substantially to the writing of the manuscript. All authors have read the final manuscript.

  • Funding The work described here formed part of a larger body of work funded by the levy board for the British pig industry—now AHDB Pork—formerly known as BPEX. AHDB Pork is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The anonymised data sets generated and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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