Animal Health Surveillance an Alberta Business Advantage

CANADA - Animal health surveillance is critical to the success of Alberta’s livestock industry,” says Dr. Ron Clarke, head of the Animal Health for Market Access section, Food Safety Division, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Edmonton.
calendar icon 19 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

“Surveillance translates into a business advantage for producers, because world markets insist on proof of livestock health. The only way to prove health is with credible data.”

Clarke and his staff analyze data collected from a variety of sources, including veterinarians working in private practice, lab procedures and field investigations conducted by Alberta Agriculture scientists.

“Programs such as the Alberta Veterinary Surveillance Network (AVSN) use groundbreaking methods and technology in surveillance,” says Clarke. “AVSN allows veterinarians to share animal health information with Alberta Agriculture via the internet.”

If a problem is suspected, the first response is always an investigation. When appropriate, information can be quickly shared among stakeholders to produce a timely response that is beneficial to producers. Alberta Agriculture teams sometimes make recommendations to veterinarians and producer groups, or provide direct support by investigating tough disease problems.

In the event of a major disease outbreak, swift recovery is dependent on swift detection and response. “Every day that a disease goes undiscovered can be a day that industry loses millions of dollars,” says Clarke.

Surveillance systems not only prevent losses, they enable recovery. “BSE is an excellent example,” says Clarke. “Without the ability to mount an extensive and credible BSE surveillance program, Alberta wouldn’t be back in the marketplace. Good surveillance is a credibility tool: Alberta producers keep markets they already have, they get back into markets that were lost, and the province sustains consumer confidence in the safety of Alberta products.

“The success of any surveillance program depends on strong relationships among everyone involved. The more involvement, the better the results,” says Clarke.

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