i. "Exotic" diseases of animals are those not normally found in Great Britain. A "notifiable" animal disease is a disease named in section 88 of the Animal Health Act 1981 or an Order made under that Act. These diseases are notifiable because of their potential for very serious and rapid spread irrespective of national borders. They can have serious socio-economic or public health consequence and are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products. If a notifiable animal disease is suspected or identified, it must by law be immediately reported to Scottish Ministers. In practical terms this means to the local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Office.
ii. Given that disease knows no boundaries and that Great Britain is a single epidemiological unit, a co-ordinated disease control approach is required. The United Kingdom Contingency Plan for Exotic Notifiable Diseases of Animals provides an overview of the response to an outbreak of exotic notifiable disease at UK level. The plan highlights how the administrations of all 4 countries of the UK work together to provide a rapid and effective response and contains details on the structures, roles and responsibilities that are activated during an outbreak. The lead role in any animal disease outbreak in Scotland will be taken by the Scottish Government working in close partnership with stakeholders and operational partners. This contingency plan provides the framework for the Scottish Government's response to both a suspected and confirmed outbreak of an exotic notifiable disease of animals in Scotland or elsewhere in Great Britain.
iii. This updated version of the contingency framework plan has been revised mainly to reflect organisational restructuring within the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). APHA is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), working across Great Britain on behalf of Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government. This contingency plan has also been updated to align it with the publication of the "Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' Framework for Exotic Notifiable Animal Diseases Contingency Plan" which provides a framework for key operational partners involved in animal disease control response to develop their own response plan. [See para 2.77]
iv. This contingency framework plan has four main chapters:
- Chapter 1, covering the principles of disease control
- Chapter 2, covering the command and control structure and processes at the strategic, tactical and operational levels
- Chapter 3, setting out the roles and responsibilities of individuals that play a part in the control process
- Chapter 4, outlines other operational partners, agencies, government departments (Scottish and UK level), and international organisations that play an essential role in the management of disease control
v. The contingency framework plan principally applies to infectious and contagious exotic notifiable diseases affecting animals but can be applied to rabies or vector borne diseases such as bluetongue, Equine Infectious Anaemia, lumpy skin disease or West Nile virus although the types of zones and associated controls (such as a requirement to cull infected animals) may be different. For each of the key diseases that pose a threat to Scotland's economic wellbeing, control measures have been laid out in the relevant annex of this Contingency Framework Plan:
vi. Scottish Ministers have a legal responsibility and authority for the control of notifiable animal disease in Scotland. The framework is consistent with the requirements of EU and Scottish legislation (for more details on specific legislation refer to the individual Annexes) and sets out what needs to be done at a strategic level, by whom and why. It has been written for Government, its agencies and operational partners, and also for anyone who may be affected either directly or indirectly by an outbreak of animal disease. Plain English has been used wherever possible but where technical language is used it has been explained. The framework sets out what is required at a strategic level for control and explains the reasoning behind significant actions. For ease of reading, the framework makes use of Concept Boxes to explain particular ideas. The framework does not cover the detailed contingency plans and instructions of operational partners, but where necessary for context, it provides an overview of their roles and responsibilities.
vii. At the start of an outbreak there will be uncertainty about its eventual scale, extent and duration. In those early stages, depending on the particular disease, it may be necessary to have country-wide stringent controls until the extent of likely spread has been assessed. The mechanisms, structures and processes set out in the framework will be used flexibly in order to meet the strategic control objectives for any particular outbreak, and it may not be necessary to use all of them in every case.