Outbreaks of notifiable infectious animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever and avian influenza, have major societal and economic consequences. Fortunately, such animal diseases occur infrequently in the Netherlands.
Early detection systems
Rapid detection of an introduced infectious animal disease is crucial. Obviously, if a pathogen is able to freely circulate for a long period, this increases the risk that the disease will spread to other farms. It will then be difficult to control an epidemic, especially in areas with a high density of livestock.
Experiences with recent epidemics in the Netherlands (classical swine fever in 1997 and avian influenza in 2003) have shown that detection of the initial introduction is challenging and often takes too long. The epidemiology group therefore studies systems for detecting and identifying disease introductions as soon as possible.