ROYAL SOCIETY INQUIRY INTO INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN LIVESTOCK
CALL FOR DETAILED EVIDENCE
Following its initial call for views, the Royal Society Inquiry into Infectious Diseases in Livestock is now inviting detailed evidence under the headings below, which broadly correspond to the working groups we have now set up. Although we will welcome views on all these questions, in practice we expect that most respondents will want to address only a few of them.
For more information please see our recent first Progress Report on our website www.royalsoc.ac.uk/inquiry/index.html. If you would like to be sent a printed copy of this and subsequent reports, please ask the Inquiry Administrator Saskia Gretton address below.
Responses should be sent by post, fax, email, or on disc to the Inquiry Administrator Saskia Gretton (email@example.com) tel: + 44  20 7451 2562 fax: + 44  20 7451 2692 as soon as possible and no later than 30 November.
For convenience of analysis it would be helpful if you could use the headings below in your response. If you refer to published material (eg research papers) in your submission, we would ask that you send us a hard or e-mail copy of the material concerned.
MAKING EVIDENCE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE
As previously announced we will make publicly available all evidence and views submitted to us, unless we are asked specifically not to. In that case we will just record the fact that we received evidence from the person or organisation in question. In no case will we consider anonymous evidence.
THE DISEASES TO ADDRESS
In the first instance we will focus on
- Foot and Mouth disease (and the other three diseases with similar symptoms: vesicular stomatitis, swine vesicular disease, and vesicular exanthema of swine)
- Classical, and African Swine Fever
- Avian influenza
Are there further diseases that we should cover ? If so why ?
In many ways a prior issue to the scientific questions, upon which we would welcome views (consonant with our terms of reference to identify actual or potential constraints such as ethics, costs and benefits, economic incentives and social concerns ) is:
7 do you think that the country should abandon the disease-free concept altogether, and just cope with outbreaks as they occur ?
7 is it actually realistic to maintain disease-free status, given the present extent of international trade as well as the movement of people and animals ?
7 what are the economic drivers influencing the possibility of disease-free status ?
SURVEILLANCE AND DIAGNOSIS
7 how effective are existing methods of disease surveillance ?
7 what are the barriers, implications and costs of moving to more active surveillance ?
7 how can science help surveillance at points of entry (import controls) ?
7 do we need to improve education/communications between different sectors of the industry and Government ?
7 how good are existing techniques; what research is needed to improve them ?
7 how should individual animal diagnosis be linked to decision making ?
7 are there developments in other sciences or technologies that might help ? (eg what are the prospects of tele-medicine/teledetection ?)
7 who should manage the national diagnostic service ?
7 who should undertake the actual diagnosis ?
PREDICTION, PREVENTION AND EPIDEMIOLOGY
7 spread of existing diseases: how good is our present predictive capability (our early warning radar) ? and what are the implications of long-term climate change ? what evidence exists on the impact of increasing mobility of people and animals, and of changing patterns of trade ?
7 introduction or re-emergence of disease: what is the risk of importing diseases from overseas ? what is the effect of changes in livestock production methods on the introduction or re-emergence of diseases ?
7 novel agents: how good is the scientific basis for predicting (a) wholly new disease agents (b) existing agents occurring in new hosts or changing form to become more virulent ? how could it be improved ?
7 what role might exist for prophylactic (preventative) vaccination ?
7 what lessons can we learn from other countries ?
7 what is the role of preventative measures such as changes in stocking densities ?
7 how good are present import controls ? what is needed to improve them ? can new science or technology help ?
7 how good are other countries import controls ? what can we learn from them ?
7 are there wholly new approaches to prevention ?
7 what are the prospects for breeding animals with greater resistance ? does genetic modification offer a route forward ?
Modelling of diseases spread
7 is there sufficient scenario planning ?
7 what is the role of predictive modelling ?
7 how good are the present models ?
7 what precise evidence is needed to underpin the models ?
7 how can they be made flexible enough to cover all eventualities ?
7 how can we improve our databases and livestock demography ?
7 do other countries use similar or better ones ?
7 are there new techniques from other fields (eg operational research) that could help ?
Control if an outbreak occurs
7 are present methods compatible with modern ethical views ?
7 has the socio-economic climate (including the CAP) altered the fundamentals of the national strategy ?
7 do control procedures incorporate recent developments in science and technology ?
7 how effective is the present national infrastructure and logistical support ?
7 what are the key elements of a strategy to control/eradicate important infectious diseases within the current trading policies ?
7 how effective is culling ? how good are the techniques and what are the alternatives ?
7 what are the environmental and public health implications of disposal techniques (eg soil, water, air pollution ) ?
7 what roles do vaccination play ?
7 what are the implications of vaccination for animals entering the food chain ?
7 how good are present vaccines and could they be improved ?
7 what research is needed to improve existing vaccines and their delivery ?
7 what is the role for marker vaccines combined with differential diagnostics ?
7 do we have the tools to evaluate vaccine efficacy (challenge models, correlates of immunity) ?
7 what is the time course of protection offered by the vaccines ?
7 should vaccination be used for rare breeds and for zoological collections ?
7 what can we learn from other countries ?
7 what is the importance of the carrier state in vaccinated animals ?
ANIMAL DISEASE RESEARCH IN THE UK AND EUROPE
- how does UK animal disease research rate on a world scale of 1(lowest)-5 ?
7 where are strengths and weaknesses ?
7 is the situation changing and what needs to be done to improve it ?
7 how does funding compare with comparable countries ?
7 is research sufficiently co-ordinated on (a) a European (b) a world level ?
7 is it optimally organised (BBSRC/DEFRA, Scotland and the universities) ? (is university institute collaboration good enough ?)
7 who is the customer for applied research ? are they capable of specifying the national requirements ?
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
7 how effective is the present education and training on animal diseases given to (a) vets (b) farmers (c) local authorities ?
7 what more should be done: for initial training and for continuous professional development of those concerned ?
7 do we need distance learning Masters courses in veterinary public health ?
Any inquiries about this call for evidence should be addressed to the Secretary of the Inquiry Dr Geoffrey Findlay (Geoffrey.Findlay@royalsoc.ac.uk) tel: 44 20 7451 2569
Secretary Inquiry into Infectious Diseases In Livestock
The Royal Society, 6 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG