Vets Urge Disease Data Innovation After Lab Closures

UK - Nine out of ten production animal vets now conduct their own post-mortems (PMs) following the closure of some laboratories in the APHA surveillance network, reveal figures from the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey.
calendar icon 25 December 2015
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The survey statistics come six months after (25 June) the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced Defra’s commitment to big data.

In 2014, there was a 31 per cent increase in production animal vets carrying out their own PMs following post mortem laboratory closures yet most vets keep this PM data at their practice, with less than 5 per cent inputting it into a national system such as NADIS, AHT or APHA and less than 1 per cent to a benchmarking group.

Sean Wensley BVA President said: “We have heard a lot about big data and its positive uses economically and socially. Disease surveillance could be a shining example of where big data and innovative data capture comes into its own.

"In a global world, where diseases such as Schmallenberg and Bluetongue can emerge in our livestock without having previously been seen on these shores, being able to quickly join up the dots of disparate disease data is vital.

“We understand that Defra and APHA must make difficult choices due to economic pressures and we very much welcome research already utilising post mortem data such as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Fallen Stock Project.

"What we now need is clear communications and guidance on carcase collection and access to PM examination arrangements together with a determination to see this as an opportunity to innovate, exploring how digital technology can help vets in the field record and capture data that feed into national databases and help us to see the bigger picture.”

BVA is asking that all vets affected by laboratory closures are clearly informed about alternative arrangements for carcase collection and PMs, with 63 per cent of vets affected by laboratory closures reporting that carcase collection in their local area was not working well.

BVA is calling on government and industry to lead in developing new and cost efficient ways to capture and analyse disease and surveillance data, drawing on innovations in digital technology and big data analysis.

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