Collection

Notifiable diseases in animals

A collection of guides to notifiable diseases in animals, including what happens if a disease is suspected or confirmed.

‘Notifiable’ diseases are animal diseases that you’re legally obliged to report to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), even if you only suspect that an animal may be affected.

Notifiable diseases can be:

  • endemic – already present in the UK, such as bovine TB
  • exotic – not normally present in the UK, such as foot and mouth disease

Some endemic and exotic diseases are zoonotic which means they can pass between animals and humans, such as rabies.

If you suspect a notifiable animal disease you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

What happens if you suspect a notifiable disease

If you suspect an exotic notifiable disease:

  1. Report it by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
  2. APHA vets will investigate – they usually visit your premises and carry out an enquiry. The APHA duty vet will tell you what restrictions should be applied to your premises before the APHA veterinary inspector arrives.
  3. If the APHA veterinary inspector suspects a notifiable disease, they will take samples for testing (this may involve killing the suspected animal before taking samples).
  4. They put restrictions on your premises. This means you must at least stop moving animals susceptible to the disease on or off the premises. It can also include stopping the movement of anything that can transmit disease, like meat products, equipment or vehicles.
  5. If certain diseases are suspected (particularly foot and mouth disease or African horse sickness) a temporary control zone will be introduced around your premises. This restricts the movements of animals susceptible to the disease.
  6. Restrictions remain in place until the investigation is complete and an exotic notifiable disease is ruled out.

What happens if a notifiable disease is confirmed

If a notifiable disease is confirmed:

  1. Action will be taken on the infected premises to reduce the risk of the disease spreading, including movement restrictions. For some diseases, like foot and mouth disease and African swine fever, this will include culling all susceptible animals. Premises are then cleaned and disinfected with strict rules on restocking.
  2. The government investigates where the disease came from and whether it has spread.
  3. The government puts restrictions on all premises where the disease is likely to have spread from or to (for example when animals have been moved).
  4. Further restrictions in a wider area may be introduced, depending on the risk of the disease spreading. In the case of foot and mouth disease in particular, animal movements would be restricted throughout the country. For some diseases control zones are automatically applied. APHA will tell you what action to take – this depends on the nature of the disease and EU requirements.
  5. The following activities that could spread disease may be banned:
    • hunting or shooting
    • animal gatherings (like shows)
    • exports

Controlling exotic notifiable diseases

Contingency plans outline how the government will manage an exotic notifiable disease outbreak:

How to prevent notifiable diseases

You can help prevent notifiable diseases by following:

Animals or birds spared from culling

For most notifiable diseases, there are legal powers to cull animals to prevent the spread of disease during an outbreak.

Certain animals and birds, including breeds at risk, may be spared from culling if this doesn’t compromise controlling the disease (this isn’t guaranteed).

Find out more about animals and birds that may be spared from culling.

Compensation when animals are slaughtered compulsorily

For some notifiable diseases, you may get compensation if your animals or birds are compulsorily culled.

Get notified about exotic disease outbreaks

You can get the latest news about exotic notifiable disease outbreaks from the APHA subscription service.

Specific notifiable animal diseases

This list only includes notifiable animal diseases on which we’ve published guidance. The list is not comprehensive: it does not include all such diseases.

  1. African horse sickness: how to spot and report the disease
  2. African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease
  3. Anthrax: how to spot and report the disease
  4. Aujeszky’s disease: how to spot and report it
  5. Avian influenza (bird flu)
  6. BSE: how to spot and report the disease
  7. Bluetongue: how to spot and report the disease
  8. Bovine TB: how to spot and report the disease
  9. Brucellosis: how to spot and report the disease
  10. Chronic wasting disease: how to spot and report the disease
  11. Classical swine fever: how to spot and report the disease
  12. Contagious agalactia: how to spot and report the disease
  13. Contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia: how to spot and report it
  14. Contagious epididymitis: how to spot and report the disease
  15. Contagious equine metritis: how to spot and report the disease
  16. Dourine: how to spot and report the disease
  17. Enzootic bovine leukosis: how to spot and report the disease
  18. Epizootic haemorrhagic disease: how to spot and report it
  19. Epizootic lymphangitis: how to spot and report the disease
  20. Equine infectious anaemia (swamp fever): how to spot and report it
  21. Equine viral arteritis: how to spot and report the disease
  22. Equine viral encephalomyelitis: how to spot and report the disease
  23. Foot and mouth disease: how to spot and report it
  24. Glanders and farcy: how to spot and report the diseases
  25. Goat plague: how to spot and report the disease
  26. Lumpy skin disease: how to spot and report the disease
  27. Newcastle disease: how to spot and report it
  28. Paramyxovirus infection: how to spot and report the disease
  29. Porcine epidemic diarrhoea: how to spot and report the disease
  30. Rabies: how to spot and report the disease in animals
  31. Rabies in bats: how to spot it and report it
  32. Rift Valley fever: how to spot and report the disease
  33. Rinderpest: how to spot and report the disease
  34. Scrapie: how to spot and report the disease
  35. Sheep and goat pox: how to spot and report the diseases
  36. Sheep scab: how to spot and report the disease
  37. Swine vesicular disease: how to spot and report it
  38. Teschen disease: how to spot and report it
  39. Vesicular stomatitis: how to spot and report the disease
  40. Warble fly: how to spot and report the disease
  41. West Nile fever: how to spot and report the disease
Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 27 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added new guide: how to spot and report Equine viral encephalomyelitis
  2. You should contact the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 to report any suspicion of a notifiable animal disease.
  3. Guidance published on TSE diseases
  4. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  5. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  6. First published.