Emergency response for epizootic diseases

Area of Expertise:

The Veterinary Sciences Division (VSD) of AFBI provides an essential local emergency response for epizootic diseases of farmed animals to DAERA.

What are epizootic diseases?

Epizootic disease is a disease event in an animal population akin to an epidemic in humans.  It generally refers to outbreaks of disease which cause serious economic or public health issues and are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products.

Examples of epizootic disease include avian influenza, swine fever and foot and mouth disease.

Emergency response

VSD maintains an emergency response capability for DAERA in order to deal with outbreaks of epizootic disease in Northern Ireland.  This is backed up by laboratory contingency plans which outline the actions to be taken if there is suspicion of epizootic disease.

These contingency plans are reviewed and exercised on a regular basis.  The capability and capacity to deal with an epizootic disease outbreak is maintained from within the routine animal disease testing programmes carried out at VSD.

What functions does VSD perform as part of emergency response?

VSD provides the following to DAERA :

  • Post mortem of animal carcasses
  • Containment level 2 & Containment level 3 Laboratory facilities for handling and testing samples
  • Testing of samples, using ISO17025 accredited test methods
  • Support for sample packaging and transportation to National Reference Laboratories
  • Scientific advice and interpretation of test results
  • Large scale serology testing to provide assurance of disease freedom for resumption of trade


Email: info@afbini.gov.uk


DAERA:  https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/contingency-planning-epizootic-diseases

APHA:  https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/notifiable-diseases-in-animals