Emerging animal diseases, particularly those harmful to humans (zoonoses) can cause considerable economic and social upheaval. Epidemics of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and bluetongue, which occurred in Europe during the last decades are clear illustrations of this trend. Moreover, the 2003 epidemic of avian influenza in the Netherlands not only had an economical impact but also represented a considerable hazard to public health as a potential zoonosis. Emerging diseases are those that appear in a population for the first time, or that may have existed previously at a very low level but are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. Globalization and climate changes have increased the risk for emergence of animal diseases such as African horse sickness or epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and zoonoses like West Nile virus or Rift Valley fever. The growth in volume and diversity of international trade in animals and animal products has increased the demand by competent authorities for improved veterinary surveillance systems. But many events may cause surveillance systems failure. Taking these risk events into consideration when developing and implementing surveillance protocols will lead to more efficient and accurate surveillance systems.
In this whitepaper we outline the risks of failure that can be encountered when implementing veterinary surveillance programs and we propose different aspects of risk-based surveillance which can contribute to successful animal disease surveillance systems.
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