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Animal Diseases

Specific Diseases and Current Situation in Scotland

This section contains information and guidance on specific diseases with relevance in Scotland and the latest information on any disease outbreaks in Scotland. Information is also available on notifiable diseases. These are diseases named in section 88 of the Animal Health Act 1981 or an Order made under that Act.

Animal health and welfare policy is fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers are responsible for the policy response to any exotic notifiable animal disease. An overview of our contigency plans and the response to an outbreak of exotic notifiable animal disease in Scotland are provided on our contingencies page.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA).  The APHA Alerts Service provides registered users with the latest news specific to exotic notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain. Alerts may also be sent outside of a disease outbreak.

Current Situation

Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) provides a report that summarises international animal disease outbreaks during the reporting month.  The report's scope is mainly restricted to specific animal diseases (formerly OIE list A diseases) where there is a potential risk to the animal health status of the UK.  It may also include reports on new or emerging diseases where these are considered to be of interest.

APHA provided an Outbreak Assessment for the case of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) H5N1 confirmed in Dunfermline, on 13 January 2016.


Bacterial and Viral Infections

All animals can suffer from bacterial or viral infections, though the risks of infection can be greatly reduced by following some simple biosecurity measures (as laid out in the Animal Health pages).

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs)

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies is the name for group of diseases that includes scrapie, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). TSEs are slow progressive neurodegenerative disorders that produce changes in the brain resulting in death. The nature of the causal agent and mechansims for replication of infectivity are unknown.

Since 2001, EU Member States have been required to undertake surveillance for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in specific populations of cattle, sheep and goats. The requirement in 2009 is that all fallen cattle and cattle for human consumption over 48 months must be tested. For sheep the requirement is 10,000 fallen sheep and 10,000 abbatoir sheep. There is also a requirement to test 50 fallen goats.

To help meet this obligation farmers should contact the TSE Surveillance Helpline on 0800 525 890 rather than their local Animal Health Divisional Office. Sheep and goats must be aged over 18 months and must have died within the last 24 hours. Reporting of fallen goats in mandatory whereas with sheep it is voluntary.


A zoonosis is defined as 'a disease naturally transmissible between vertebrates and man', of which there are a great variety, such as samonellosis, bovine tuberculosis, and rabies. They can be spread through various means, depending on the disease itself, and some can cause fatal disease (e.g. rabies and anthrax) whereas others may initiate outbreaks of relatively mild, but potentially incapacitating, illness (e.g. salmonellosis).

Zoonoses have emerging importance due in part to increasing public awareness of the danger of infections from foods of animal origin. The United Kingdom Zoonoses Report draws together information from a number of sources and gives information on the situation in man, food and animals.