Human animal infections and risk surveillance group (HAIRS)

The human animal infections and risk surveillance (HAIRS) group identifies and assesses emerging infection risks to human health.

The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group is a multi-agency cross-government horizon scanning and risk assessment group.

The group’s members are representatives from:

  • Public Health England
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (current Chair)
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Public Health Wales
  • Welsh Government
  • Health Protection Scotland
  • Scottish Government
  • Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland
  • Food Standards Agency

The group has met every month since February 2004 and acts as a forum to identify and discuss infections with potential for interspecies transfer (particularly zoonotic infections). The work of the HAIRS group is described in a series of reports.

A system of horizon scanning is used to identify emerging and potentially zoonotic infections which may pose a threat to UK public health. The multidisciplinary nature of the HAIRS group enables it to assess horizon scanning reports in an objective and scientific manner.

If infections are thought to be of potential significance, they are included in the ‘Infectious Disease Surveillance and Monitoring System for Animal and Human Health: Summary of notable events and incidents of public health significance’, which is produced monthly.

See the Emerging Infections Summaries.

Risk assessment process

  1. HAIRS risk assessment process

Risk assessments

  1. HAIRS risk assessment: canine leishmaniosis
  2. HAIRS risk assessment: tick-borne encephalitis
  3. HAIRS risk assessment: squirrel Bornavirus
  4. HAIRS risk assessment: Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
  5. HAIRS risk assessment: West Nile virus
  6. HAIRS risk assessment: leprosy in red squirrels
  7. HAIRS risk assessment: Chikungunya virus
  8. HAIRS risk assessment: Zika virus
  9. HAIRS risk assessment: emerging tick-borne bacteria in the UK
  10. HAIRS risk assessment: hantavirus
  11. HAIRS risk assessment: marine mammal Brucella species
  12. HAIRS risk assessment: Mycobacterium bovis in cats

HAIRS reports

For earlier HAIRS Reports (from 2004), see the archive.

  1. HAIRS Report 2017
  2. HAIRS Report 2016
  3. HAIRS Report 2013 to 2015
  4. HAIRS Report 2011 to 2012

Risk assessments by partner agencies: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

DEFRA, FSA and PHE have undertaken qualitative risk assessments of the risk of CWD being introduced into the UK, and of food and non-food exposures.

  1. Chronic wasting disease: risk assessments
Published 6 October 2015
Last updated 16 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added risk assessment for canine leishmaniosis.

  2. Added risk assessment for tick-borne encephalitis.

  3. Added 2019 update to 'HAIRS risk assessment: squirrel Bornavirus'.

  4. Added rIsk assessment process.

  5. HAIRS Report 2017 added.

  6. Added risk assessments for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), completed by partner agencies.

  7. Added West Nile virus risk assessment.

  8. Added HAIRS Report 2016.

  9. Added 2 new risk assessments (Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and leprosy in red squirrels) and updated squirrel Bornavirus.

  10. Addition of the 2013-2015 HAIRS report.

  11. Added tick-borne bacteria risk assessment.

  12. Added new risk assessment (Squirrel Bornavirus).

  13. New risk assessment (Zika virus) added

  14. Risk assessment for hantavirus added.

  15. First published.