Controlling animal diseases

Some animal diseases can also infect animals of other species, and people. The government helps to combat outbreaks of these zoonotic diseases.

Responsibility for animal health

Livestock owners can usually cure a sick animal themselves, or call in a vet who can prescribe medicines.

An infectious animal disease can spread beyond the farm where it first occurs. It can cause damage to other farming businesses and to the economy at large, and can pose a threat to public health. That is why the government helps to prevent and combat these diseases.

Vets diagnose animal diseases

Vets play an important role in safeguarding public health. As they are often the first to establish a case of infectious disease, they help to prevent epidemics. They also advise farmers on preventing and controlling animal diseases.

Notifiable animal diseases

The member states of the European Union (EU) have agreed which animal diseases are so serious that governments always need to be involved in fighting them. These diseases are known as ‘notifiable animal diseases’.

Diseases that are notifiable:

  • can spread quickly, also to other EU member states;
  • can have a devastating impact on the animal population affected;
  • cannot be prevented or controlled by conventional means;
  • can cause serious economic damage to farmers and EU member states.

Main notifiable diseases

The main notifiable animal diseases in the Netherlands are:

  • BSE or mad cow disease
  • foot and mouth disease
  • Q fever
  • parrot fever (psittacosis)
  • swine fever
  • bird flu
  • Schmallenberg virus (SBV)
  • equine herpes virus (EHV)
  • viral infection in seals

Guidelines for animal disease control

The EU has directives on combating animal diseases. The member states implement the directives through national policy guidelines on animal disease control.

Who does what in animal disease control

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority is responsible for controlling animal diseases. It organises exercises and offers training courses. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority works together with:

Expert group on animal diseases

An expert group on animal diseases advises the Ministry of Economic Affairs on preventing and controlling infectious animal diseases. The group is comprised of experts from different fields, like epidemiologists, virologists and practising vets.