The national Animal Health Surveillance System (AHSS) is an accessible and voluntary system, providing a broad safety net for the earliest possible detection of animal health signals. Such signals originate from farmers in various livestock sectors (cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and goats), veterinarians, the processing industry, research institutes and public health authorities. The AHSS researches, bundles and analyses these signals derived from a number of complementary instruments. The results are shared with farmers, veterinarians and relevant parties such as the government, livestock sector, human healthcare providers and (if necessary) neighbouring countries who may need to take action.
Animal health monitoring is vital for animal health and welfare, food safety and export position of the Netherlands. These interests are translated into monitor goals:
- Detection of outbreaks of recognised pathogens, which are not known to be otherwise present in the Netherlands.
- Detection of unknown diseases or pathogens.
- Description of trends and developments in animal health.
The aggregation and interpretation of information are the key components of monitoring animal health. GD obtains information nationally by collaborating with veterinary practitioners, farmers and agricultural organisations. We also work together with other Dutch institutions, such as the WBVR (Wageningen Bioveterinary Research) and the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment). GD is initiator of this professional animal health network. All information gathered from these sources is analysed, interpreted and communicated with these organisations, veterinary practitioners and farmers. Our international relations are of growing importance. We share information with colleagues abroad to expand the knowledge base, improve treatment and help each other improve animal health worldwide.
GD is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to improve animal health. We regularly discuss our results with a steering committee and inform farmers and veterinary practitioners of our findings using newsletters (in print and on the web), free publicity and meetings. This makes GD leading in animal health.
In the Netherlands, GD is commissioned to monitor animal health by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Producer organisations and interbranch organisations.