EPIC scientists work on contingency planning for livestock diseases, including Foot and Mouth Disease, Schmallenberg disease and Bluetongue Virus, which could have a devastating impact on Scotland’s sheep industry.

Some technologies may have beneficial impacts on disease prevention and control. Sheep EID is an example of a new technology and is compulsory for the recording of sheep movements. Its use provides opportunities for integrating farm and health management plans. Through understanding how farmers use and uptake new technology we have better insight into the future of the industry and any impact on resilience to disease outbreaks.

Working with the UK's Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), EPIC undertakes regular Horizon Scanning analysis to assess the risk of disease incursions. The assessment EPIC undertakes, is targeted to Scotland’s situation, accounting for livestock distribution, sector and climate. This work is particularly relevant for two vector borne diseases of sheep, namely Bluetongue and Schmallenberg. 

The study of exotic disease presents a number of challenges, including limited availability of data. In order to overcome a lack of data, EPIC’s epidemiologists sometimes study endemic diseases to give insight into exotic diseases. Sheep Scab has been used as a ‘proxy’ to study farmer behaviour around the uptake of a new diagnostic test, as well as in setting up control strategies.

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