More farmers now benefit from free carcase collection services where a veterinarian has recommended a post mortem should be carried out for disease surveillance purposes.
The change came into effect on 3 January 2017 in England after the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carried out a review of its post mortem examination services. There are no changes to the existing arrangements in Wales.
The APHA works with vets and farmers to investigate and diagnose livestock and poultry disease across Great Britain. It offers a state-of-the-art post mortem examination (PME) and sample testing service to detect disease in all farmed animals and wildlife.
PME services are provided by a mixture of APHA’s own Veterinary Investigation Centres (VICs) and a number of external partners – the University of Bristol, the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Surrey, the Scottish Agricultural College (covering Northumberland) and in Wales, the Wales Veterinary Science Centre (Aberystwyth University).
PMEs have also been provided through the APHA contracts by the use of fallen stock sites in some areas of England. With the extension of the free carcase collection service, the use of these fallen stock sites in England will cease.
Within the catchment area of these PME facilities, usually around an hour’s drive time from the centre, farmers are asked to transport carcases for post mortem by their own means. However, outside of these catchment areas exists a network of carcase collection contractors who can collect and transport livestock carcases for investigation.
Whilst there is a charge for the post mortem service, carcase collection is provided free of charge to farmers, although only where a post mortem is required – the services are not provided for the purposes of general carcase disposal.
Carcase collection contractors will deliver carcases for pre-agreed diagnostic PME to an APHA VIC or a non-APHA partner PME provider. To find out what services are available in your area and who to contact please look on the APHA Vet Gateway and use the postcode search tool and maps of the surveillance network in England and Wales: http://ahvla.defra.gov.uk/postcode/pme.asp
More about APHA’s diagnostic and surveillance services
APHA’s post mortem and sample testing services are termed as ‘veterinary scanning surveillance’, which aims to detect new or re-emerging animal disease threats. APHA detects threats to animal health and welfare such as Schmallenberg virus, known notifiable diseases like classical swine fever, avian influenza and foot and mouth disease, as well as threats to human health such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and salmonella.
From the data gathered, APHA monitors the health of different animal species across geographical locations to build a national picture of diseases across Great Britain (GB). This provides an early warning for the detection of new, unusual or re-emerging diseases and enables a strategic approach to disease control. Faster detection and control of disease minimises loss of production and consequently the financial loss to farming businesses.
APHA’s surveillance services include:
- A wide range of diagnostic tests. Suitable for all livestock species, covering a wide range of endemic diseases.
- Subsidised livestock post-mortem examinations (PME) at APHA Veterinary Investigation Centres and non-APHA PME partner sites. Arrangements to send in a carcase need to be made through your vet.
- Free carcase collection in parts of England and Wales for diagnostic PMEs of surveillance value.
- Free advice and access to expertise. Our vets are always happy to discuss cases with your vet over the telephone. We can visit farms to help investigate and provide advice in difficult cases where appropriate.
The disease surveillance price list is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/laboratory-test-price-lists
Faster results thanks to new online service
Test results can be reported back to farm vets even more quickly since the launch of APHA’s Animal Disease Testing Service, which enables vets to submit sample information and receive test results online. Vets can now access test results on their mobile phone, giving farmers superfast results and allowing disease control measures to be put in place more quickly. Vets can register for the service at: https://www.gov.uk/animal-disease-testing Ask your vet if they’re registered.
When and how to access APHA’s diagnostic and PME services
When disease is suspected, farmers should discuss with their vet whether to send samples onto APHA laboratories for diagnostic testing or submit a carcase for post mortem examination.
You can find your nearest PME facility at: http://ahvla.defra.gov.uk/postcode/pme.asp
It is essential that APHA are informed immediately if a notifiable disease is suspected as follows:
- In England call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
- In Wales, please contact 0300 303 8268.
- In Scotland you should contact your local APHA field services office: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency/about/access-and-opening
Information about notifiable diseases and a list of all notifiable diseases can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/notifiable-diseases-in-animals
Find out more
Further information on the surveillance network in England and Wales, including post mortem and carcase collection services, diagnostic testing and disease updates can be found online at: http://ahvla.defra.gov.uk/vet-gateway/index.htm. APHA also publishes surveillance reports on the monitoring of diseases in livestock and poultry, giving farmers and their vets up-to-date information on the current and emerging disease threats for the species that they farm https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/animal-disease-surveillance-reports
Talk to your vet about disease investigation as part of routine flock and herd health planning.