Legislative basis for the notifiable diseases
The Danish Animal Health Act is the legislative basis for the current notification procedures. The Act also lays down the list of notifiable animal diseases in Denmark and the rules for the notification of suspected cases of those diseases.
Furthermore, the Act gives legal powers to carry out diagnostic and epidemiological investigations, impose movement restrictions, create protection and surveillance zones, control movements within such zones, take samples, cull infected and in-contact animals, pay compensation to farmers, destroy carcasses and potentially infective materials, carry out cleaning and disinfection and, if necessary, carry out emergency vaccination.
The notifiable animal diseases listed in Executive Order No. 532 of 25 May 2018 are divided into two groups: list 1 and list 2.
Any suspicion of a disease on list 1 must immediately be notified to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA), whereas notification of a disease on list 2 is only mandatory after confirmation of the disease.
The Danish list 1 of notifiable diseases includes all serious diseases in animals as well as several zoonotic diseases.
Obligation to notify suspicion of animal diseases
Effective surveillance for clinical signs of contagious diseases is required for early detection of disease outbreaks. According to the Animal Health Act, all farmers are obliged to call a veterinarian right away in case of suspicion of a notifiable disease.
If the veterinarian suspects a list 1 disease, the veterinarian must immediately notify the relevant Veterinary Inspection Unit (VIU) of the DVFA. A veterinary officer from the VIU will inspect the herd within a specified number of hours (three or five hours depending on whether the suspicion has arisen in a slaughterhouse or at a farm) and make a report to the DVFA on the suspected case.
If the veterinary officer cannot rule out the suspicion of a list 1 disease, official restrictions are imposed on the herd, and test material is collected and dispatched to the National Reference Laboratory.
As a second line of defence, official veterinarians are responsible for inspecting all animals at shows as well as animals intended for production, slaughter or export at assembly centres and animals intended for export directly from the herd premises. Also ante-mortem inspection and post-mortem examination at slaughterhouses are important elements of the surveillance system.
A high level of awareness among farmers and private veterinarians is required to ensure notification of even the slightest suspicion of a notifiable disease. Generally, the level of education among Danish farmers is high. Information of disease symptoms and significant disease events in EU countries and other parts of the world are made readily available to the Danish farmers and veterinarians in farmers’ magazines, in the Danish Veterinary Journal, electronic newsletters, at farmers conferences, at veterinary conferences and at various websites, e.g. the website of the DVFA.