Farming Standards

Animal Disease Containment

It is an unfortunate reality that animals will get sick and that outbreaks of communicable and contagious diseases will take place. It is notoriously difficult to predict when or where an outbreak will occur, but having proper planning and precautions in place can keep the risk of an outbreak to a minimum and keep it contained when/if it does happen.

One of Trading Standards’ responsibilities is to work with other agencies to put in place plans and procedures that both prevent disease and which can immediately come into effect if an outbreak of a potentially devastating disease occurs.

Information on Livestock Diseases

If you would like more information on how to spot and deal with animal diseases – particularly ones that may not currently exist in the UK but could cause major problem if they broke out – head to our Farming Guidance leaflets page.

Avian Influenza – For guidance on how to spot avian influenza (bird flu), what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent it click here.

Contingency Plans

Most of us remember the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, which caused a major crisis in British Agriculture and Tourism. This saw 2,000 cases of the disease in farms (many in the Devon, Somerset and Torbay area) and over 10 million sheep and cattle were killed. By the time the disease was halted, the crisis is estimated to have cost the United Kingdom £8bn.

Although this was not the first outbreak of foot and mouth disease it was by far the most devastating. The last outbreak prior to this was in 1967, which was confined to a small area of the country. Since then there has been a massive change in farming methods, with animals transported greater distances. This contributed to spread the disease over a wide area in 2001.

There is a list of notfiable diseases that people MUST legally report if they suspect an outbreak. A full list can be found on the Defra website (if you suspect an outbreak of a notifiable disease, please contact your local APHA (formerly AHVLA) office). Many of these diseases could have the same effect on the United Kingdom as Foot & Mouth did in 2001. This is why it is important that we have contingency plans.

It is a good idea for each farming business to also have contingency plans of their own to limit the effects on their business should a disease be declared.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

There are many different agencies involved during any disease outbreak so legislation was set down to outline who is responsible for what.

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 reflects the role of authorities in providing civil protection at a local level and places a statutory duty on them to maintain emergency plans for events or situations likely to cause serious damage to human welfare and the environment.

The Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended by the 2002 Act) places statutory duties on local authorities in relation to animal disease outbreaks. This role is focused on preventing the spread of the notifiable animal diseases, and thus limiting the effect of the disease on human and animal activities.

Therefore all local authorities must ensure that up to date animal disease contingency plans are in place and that responsibilities under the Animal Health Act 1981 and the EC Communities Act 1972 can be performed directly.

Our contingency plans are regularly revisited and tested to ensure that we can provide a rapid and effective response from the start of a suspected notifiable animal disease to the conclusion.

Guidance On The Plans

In an attempt to provide a co-ordinated, ‘joined-up’ approach to animal disease outbreaks, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards has adopted a tiered approach to our contingency plans.

The top-level is an agreed Local Resilience Forum plan, which will help co-ordinate the response to disease outbreaks across Devon, Somerset, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and the Isles of Scilly, between groups such as Trading Standards, the NHS, Environment Agency and the emergency services.

We then have generic contingency plans for Devon (Somerset’s are currently being redrawn), which set out what actions will be required in all notifiable disease outbreaks. This is then used in conjunction with a relevant annexe for the disease that has broken out. An annexe has been written for every notifiable animal disease.

By clicking on the Local Resilience Forum, the Generic Contingency Plan (currently only the plans for Devon are included here) and then the relevant Annexe it will take you through Devon’s up-to-date Contingency Plans.

All Rabies-Susceptible Animals Entering The UK Have To Spend Six Months In Quarantine

However, there are exemptions under the Pet Travel Scheme, which applies to dogs, cats and ferrets. Pets from designated countries can enter the country without quarantine as long as they meet the scheme rules, and UK residents can take their pets to the designated countries and return to the UK without quarantine.

The scheme’s rules include getting your pet fitted with a microchip so that it can be properly identified, getting it vaccinated against rabies (at least 21 days before entering the UK) and a pet passport must be obtained. Dogs must be treated for tapeworm between one and five days before arriving in the UK.

Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system that can affect all mammals, including humans, cats, dogs, farmed animals and wildlife. The disease is spread by the bite of an infected animal.

For more information on the pet passport scheme and rabies visit the Defra website.

When purchasing a puppy/pet which has been imported from Europe, it is important to check the following:

  • The microchip no. on the passport matches the puppy’s microchip.
  • The date of birth in the passport matches your puppy’s age.
  • It was tape worm treated more than 24hrs before entering the UK.
  • It was health checked by a vet prior to landing in the UK.
  • Rabies Vaccination was carried when the puppy was 12 or more weeks of age and that it did not enter the UK before 21 days after this has passed.
  • If the puppy has been pet passported correctly then it will be 15 weeks or more of age before entering the UK.

This also includes pets entering from Southern Ireland.

Should your pet not comply with any one of the above then you could be looking at a £800 quarantine bill, which you will be liable for, or even worse it could become infected with RABIES!

Help us to protect the UK from getting RABIES and report any suspected illegal importation of animals by contacting us.