You are here:

Scanning surveillance - How is it delivered?

Scanning surveillance and the Surveillance Intelligence Unit (SIU)

The Surveillance Intelligence Unit (SIU) at APHA manages veterinary scanning surveillance activities to quickly detect, characterise and manage threats and risks in livestock and wildlife in Great Britain. The SIU includes the Species Expert Groups veterinary leads and the Surveillance Epidemiology and Data Analysis team.

Threats are diverse and can include:

  • A novel disease or pathogen such as Schmallenberg virus
  • Exotic or notifiable disease, such as Bluetongue
  • A new pathogen variant or subtype, such as the RHD2 variant in rabbits 
  • Novel or rare antimicrobial resistance, such as transferable colistin resistance
  • Public health concern due to zoonoses or toxicity, such as Salmonella
  • Changes in endemic disease trends

The SIU generates intelligence on these animal health threats from information and data gathered through the GB diagnostic network, from a variety of other animal health sources and through networks of specialist expertise both within and external to APHA.

What happens when a threat is detected?

Where a potential threat is identified, investigation follows to:

  • Characterise the threat, using information from farm visits, laboratory testing, scientific literature and subject experts
  • Assess the risk to determine the size of the threat in relation to animal health and welfare, public health and interest, and international trade
  • Communicate clearly to provide information to Government and industry and enable appropriate decisions and actions to be taken

Assessment and management of new and re-emerging animal health-related threats identified by the SIU involves the UK Government's Veterinary Risk Group whose work is described in the Veterinary Record.

Sharing information from scanning surveillance

A key part of scanning surveillance is to disseminate findings to others for awareness, alert or action.

Surveillance information is shared regularly through the Species Expert Groups and diagnostic networks, in local newsletters, monthly reports to the Veterinary Record, quarterly threat reports and in ad-hoc information notes and industry and sector group alerts.

See the surveillance report page for the quarterly threats reports and the individual Species Expert Group pages.

Back to top

Surveillance epidemiology and data analysis

Image of Surveillance Epidemiology and Data Analysis (SEDA) teamAPHA’s Surveillance Epidemiology and Data Analysis (SEDA) team helps the Species Expert Groups to collate, analyse and communicate surveillance data.

The team provides data management, analysis and epidemiological expertise and works with other groups across APHA, in industry and in academia to explore and implement data and methodologies that will enhance the value of surveillance information.

Some of the groups that we work with include:

The SEDA team, working in partnership with other specialist groups, has been systematically introducing other data sources for routine use by Species Expert Groups. These include livestock demographics and movement patterns, cattle mortalities, cattle abortion notifications, adverse welfare reports and exotic disease notifications.

These additional data sources are complementary to the core diagnostic surveillance data held by the Veterinary Investigation Diagnosis Analysis (VIDA) database, which contains records of all diagnostic submissions to the APHA network and to SRUC, SAC Consulting Veterinary Services. Together with information from people in the networks, they are an integral part of surveillance for new and re-emerging threats.

As the surveillance system is further developed, more data sources will be evaluated for their potential to enhance surveillance. Examples include data from abattoir condemnations, and data held by private veterinary practitioners and laboratories.  

We are also developing ways of sharing simple visualisations of animal disease diagnoses across the country, using information from submissions to the GB diagnostic network.

Take a look at the prototype sheep disease surveillance dashboard to see more.

Back to top