Research Partner: University of Warwick

Project Duration: January 2016 – December 2019

Category: Beef & Sheep

PhD Student: Hanne Nijs

 

Syndromic surveillance (SyS) is the continuous monitoring of important animal health indicators. SyS can have a wide range of aims: it is most frequently used to speed up the early detection of outbreaks of a new or exotic disease, but this surveillance approach can also be applied to monitor the levels of endemic diseases in the animal population.

The data used in a SyS programme are non-specific in the sense that they are collected at a stage where no laboratory confirmation is available. Therefore, records are clinical signs or diseases observed and recorded by producers or veterinarians. In recent years, other data sources have also been assessed for implementation in veterinary SyS including laboratory test results, abattoir condemnation rates and production records.

In order to develop a system that is useful for farmers, this project is focused at monitoring the levels of endemic diseases in beef cattle herds and sheep flocks. Focus groups will be run with farmers to define their needs and expectations and to identify the most important endemic diseases that they would want in a SyS system. The feasibility of on-farm monitoring by farmers will be investigated. In addition, other relevant stakeholders (eg. AHDB, Defra, SHAWG, CHAWG) will be contacted and invited to participate in an interview to establish which data are perceived as valuable and useful.

Once data sources of interest are identified, they will be tested in pilot systems and the outputs will be evaluated and validated.

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a useful and practical tool that provides farmers with relevant feedback on the health status of their animals and to allow them to benchmark their own results with a regional or national benchmark.