Tools for animal health management Author: Dr Mary-Louise Penrith Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Introduction animal disease events so that they can be dealt with in The aim of managing animal health is to minimise the a timely fashion before they become a crisis. negative animal Surveillance is a core responsibility of the government production and welfare, trade in livestock and livestock veterinary services, but in order to be effective the products, and human health. It involves preventing surveillance system must be able to tap all possible outbreaks managing sources of information in the public and private sectors, endemic diseases in cost-effective ways that minimise including sources that provide relevant information on their impact on production, trade, livelihoods and human health and animal health events in wildlife human health and prevent their spread to areas where populations. Ideally, an animal disease surveillance they are not endemic. The ability of animal health network should exist that is coordinated by the service providers in both the public and private sector government veterinary services but has its roots at the to effectively manage animal health depends on level of the livestock farming community. Information knowledge of the diseases involved and access to management systems must be in place so that the information and tools as required. information gathered is handled as effectively as Tools for managing animal health can be divided possible and is available to be communicated in an into three broad categories: appropriate format at all levels, from reporting to Tools for gathering and disseminating information international organisations to providing feedback to all about animal health those who have supplied information and/or who need Tools to support strategic planning for and to know what the animal health situation is in their evaluation of disease prevention and control geographical area or field of interest. interventions diagnostic laboratory that is adequately equipped, Tools used for disease prevention and control staffed with skilled personnel, and with links to interventions. reference laboratories to enable specialised testing as effects of of animal epidemic diseases diseases and on A veterinary required is indispensable to ensure the quality of Tools for gathering and disseminating information animal disease information Animal disease surveillance as defined by the World Organisation for Animal health (OIE) is ‘The systematic Tools to support planning and evaluation ongoing collection, collation and analysis of information Various techniques have been developed to support related to animal health and the timely dissemination of planning of animal health management strategies and information to those who need to know so that action to monitor and evaluate animal health interventions. can be taken’. A functional surveillance system should These include risk analysis, which involves hazard provide immediate information about any unusual identification, risk assessment, risk management and risk communication, in order to be able to identify animal health risks and implement measures to Find out more mitigate them if deemed sufficiently serious in terms of Web-based modules for degree purposes or CPD their potential consequences to warrant intervention. on Recently, guidelines have been provided for the management and managing animal diseases for application trade of risk analysis and risk mitigation throughout livestock value chains, an approach that has long been adopted in order to ensure that food issues are that influence available in animal which health objectives, approaches, impacts and challenges are explored. Web-based modules on high impact diseases processing results in a safe product (HACCP), making provide more detail on how individual diseases of use of critical control points that are measurable and importance are managed. facilitate auditing and certification. Contingency Web-based modules on the various tools used for planning for animal disease outbreaks is strongly animal health management provide more detail on advocated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of laboratory diagnostics, molecular applications, the United Nations to ensure that countries are passive prepared if a disease emergency should arise; the diseases essence of contingency plans is that they should be animal identification and traceability, disease practical and their implementation feasible under the freedom for countries, zones or compartments, the conditions where they will be used. Mathematical use of vaccination, the role of therapeutics and the modelling is another technique that is increasingly used principles of biosecurity. in animal health and has proven particularly useful for and active including surveillance participatory for animal surveillance, Web-based modules on zoonotic diseases explore evaluating disease control interventions and comparing the way those diseases manifest in and spread them with other options to ensure that control was between humans and animals. achieved in the most effective and cost-effective way. Web-based modules for CPD or degree purposes Because the available data are not always entirely on emerging and re-emerging diseases discuss reliable, caution has been advised when modelling is the drivers that have resulted in ‘new’ diseases, used for planning interventions in an emergency many of which are zoonotic, and the challenges situation. that occur when a ‘new’ disease emerges or an old disease assumes new patterns. Tools for disease prevention and control The tools for intervention and control Web-based modules on livestock marketing and include trade provide insight into the challenges posed by vaccination, chemotherapy and chemoprophylaxis, the animal health issues that have to be overcome in application of biosecurity measures, segregation of order to support international trade in livestock populations of different health status (the creation of and livestock commodities. disease-free zones or compartments), commoditybased trade, animal identification and traceability (which has various uses but is clearly advantageous for disease control), and natural resistance to specific diseases or their vectors. Not all of the tools can be applied in all circumstances, and very often a combination of tools is required to achieve adequate management of a disease.