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Health Surveillance Key to Maintaining Market Access

by 5m Editor
28 January 2010, at 11:58a.m.

CANADA - Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development says early detection of infectious disease is critical to maintaining a nation's ability to access to international markets for live animals and meat, according to Bruce Cochrane.

Livestock Health Surveillance was discussed last week during the Banff Pork Seminar.

Dr John Berezowski, a veterinary epidemiologist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, says management of animal health risk and the impact of disease on market access have heightened interest in livestock health surveillance.

Dr John Berezowski-Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

We've seen a rapid increase in the number of new pathogens and the number of new diseases that infected both people and animals over the last 30 to 40 years.

We've got new diseases emerging and we tie that to these really well developed livestock and meat distribution systems so at any one time there's upwards of 40 thousand ships with animals and animal products on the oceans of the world at any one time.

We also move over a billion people across international borders every year.

Even within a small province like Alberta the number of animal movements that occur within this province to support our livestock production systems is huge so we need to be watching for changes in existing disease that might suggest that an existing disease is changing in its pathogenicity or its ability to infect livestock or people.

We also need to be looking for new never been seen before diseases and we want to detect them when they're first unknown, when they're just an increased morbidity or increased number of sick animals, increased number of dead animals and they often will first appear as an unknown disease.

That's the point where we need to have well funded investigation systems so that we can collect animal samples and try to find the cause of the disease as early as possible.


Dr Berezowski says a few days delay in detecting a new disease can mean the difference between an outbreak that costs the industry thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars and an outbreak that costs millions or even billions of dollars.