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Surveillance Techniques for Aquatic Animal Health - FC1201

This project will develop strategies and tools to assist the Cefas Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) and Epidemiology teams to conduct effective surveillance and risk assessment for the introduction of exotic aquatic animal diseases to farmed and wild fish and shellfish populations in England and Wales. The key policy driver here is the requirement under the European fish health directive (2006/88/EC; Anon., 2006) to develop risk based surveillance systems (RBS) for aquatic animal health management. The principle objective of RBS is the efficient use of resources directed towards high risk animal types, farm categories and geographic areas (Stärk et al., 2006). The implementation of 2006/88/EC has, however, also reduced the requirement for active surveillance and placed greater reliance on passive surveillance to detect the introduction of notifiable pathogens: this creates an increasing need to estimate and improve the sensitivity of our passive surveillance systems and responsive sampling to maintain our confidence in freedom from infection.

We will review the effectiveness of aspects of our current active and passive surveillance activities and build on work undertaken in previous research projects to provide robust methods to generate the evidence base to demonstrate freedom from disease. This will include extending the functionality of our farm risk ranking models to provide information on the relative importance of different routes of introduction and spread for specific pathogens and using outputs from these to inform scenario tree models (STM) to provide estimates of confidence in our surveillance for these diseases in different fish farming sectors. We will also develop methodologies that will enable us to define target populations required to establish STM for the passive surveillance of wild fish stocks and investigate the value and reliability of the evidence streams available for these models (for example, routes for reporting of fish mortalities from the general public). The project will undertake experimental work to investigate the feasibility of improving sampling methods required to develop an active sampling strategy for Gyrodactylus salaris (GS) on trout farms; underpinning contingency planning and response (control and eradication) to an outbreak of this parasite. Additionally Cefas will develop various components of our geographic information systems (GIS) to improve the resolution of river catchments and hydrological parameters (e.g. river flow) and also create base layers for risk factors identified by other research projects (e.g. sites of fish processing discharge) to support risk mapping outputs, RBS and wider modelling applications (for example, disease transmission models).

Anon., 2006. Council Directive 2006/88/EC of 24 October 2006 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals. Official Journal of the European Union L328/14, 43.

Stärk, K., Regula, G., Hernandez, J., Knopf, L., Fuchs, K., Morris, R., Davies, P., 2006. Concepts for risk-based surveillance in the field of veterinary medicine and veterinary public health: review of current approaches. Biomedical Central Health Service Research 6, DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-1186-1120.
01. Improve scoring for the fish farm ranking model
02. Develop a viable Gyrodactylus spp. sampling strategy for outbreaks
03. Develop an algorithm which links air remperature with water temperature in rivers
04. Develop surveillance methodologies for wild species
05. Develop GIS capabilities for surveillance and contingency planning for emerging and exotic diseases
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2015

Cost: £302,012
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Fish Disease