Exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans - Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' framework: August 2022

Information on how and when operational partners should respond to a suspect or confirmed exotic notifiable animal disease outbreak.

4. Roles and responsibilities

4.1. General

APHA will lead the operational response to an outbreak, but a number of other agencies will be involved. Those agencies will have response plans of their own. However, working together will be essential to provide a co-ordinated response. During a disease outbreak, the inter-agency picture can be complex and it is therefore important that responders understand their own part within the wider disease response structure.

Scottish Government officials will establish the extent of the various control zones that may apply.

Figure 2 below shows the links between the principle animal and human disease control response structures that may be established during an animal disease outbreak with zoonotic potential. These structures are explained in more detail later in this chapter. Note, not all of these structures will be activated, depending on the scale of the incident.

Figure 2: Information flow between animal (red) and human (green) disease control response structures.
a diagram showing the information flow between animal and human disease control response structures

4.2. Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

APHA is the operational lead agency in dealing with notifiable animal disease outbreaks and will implement animal disease control measures. The assistance of the relevant local authority and Police Scotland will be called upon to enforce those control measures (for infections with zoonotic potential, the public health response is the responsibility of the NHS board(s) in liaison with PHS).

Following confirmation, or Slaughter on suspicion, APHA will initiate the local response to a disease outbreak. APHA's Head of Field Delivery Scotland (HoFDS) will be responsible for the management of the Central Disease Control Centre (CDCC), reporting to the Head of the Disease Strategy Group (DSG) in Saughton House, Edinburgh and to the National Disease Control Centre (NDCC).

During the disease outbreak, APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland will work with other agencies to ensure the delivery of disease control measures.

4.2.1. Detection of diseased/infected animals

APHA will respond to and investigate reports of suspect notifiable disease. If it has not already been done, APHA will then serve restriction notices to prevent any movements of susceptible animals on to or off the premises. As well as diagnosing disease, the investigation will identify potential sources of disease, or premises that may have been infected as a result of spread from the suspect premises.

This may initiate further investigations, serving of restriction notices on additional premises, and/or culling of livestock. APHA will arrange foot patrol visits in zones or areas that may be declared by Scottish Ministers.

High-risk premises will be identified and visits to them prioritised.

4.2.2. Culling and disposal of animals

APHA will make arrangements for, and supervise, the culling and disposal of susceptible animals if required. APHA will also supervise the welfare of animals being culled and prioritise the order of animals to be culled.

4.2.3. Health and safety at Infected Premises (IPs)

Although the speed of culling and disposal is important, the health and safety of individuals is paramount, and careful preparations are required by APHA to ensure that this is not compromised. This is particularly important in the case of animal diseases that are communicable to humans (zoonoses), and so PHS will advise on the precautions to be taken on the IP to protect workers. APHA will provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff and contractors working on the IP.

4.2.4. Avian influenza incidents – prophylaxis

In Scotland, APHA are responsible for the provision of antivirals to APHA staff and any contractors brought in by APHA to deal with an avian influenza (AI) incident (local NHS boards are responsible for provision of antivirals to farm workers and other individuals where required - see section 4.7.1).

4.2.5. Containment of disease on suspect, infected or dangerous contact premises

APHA will ensure that all appropriate measures are put in place and maintained to reduce the risk of spread of disease to a minimum. This will include briefing of officers who have secured the premises, thus ensuring that the correct biosecurity measures are in place and have been adhered to. This will also include consideration of possible wildlife vectors. Other organisations (e.g. SASA, NatureScot, etc.) may be contacted to advise on actual risks in relation to farm and on and off-site wildlife activity.

APHA will also arrange for preliminary cleansing and disinfection (C&D) of the infected premises, and will confirm that secondary C&D has been completed satisfactorily.

4.2.6. Containment of disease in declared zones/areas

The CDCC will plan the initial action in the controlled area. APHA will be responsible for overseeing the issue of specific movement licences within the zones/areas closest to the suspect or infected premises, notably the Protection Zone (PZ) and Surveillance Zone (SZ).

4.2.7. Overview/summary of APHA responsibilities

  • lead operational agency and instigates the local response to the disease outbreak in animals
  • respond to and investigate reports of suspect notifiable disease
  • notify relevant operational partners when disease is suspected, including Police Scotland, SEPA and affected local authorities and NHS boards
  • establish the CDCC and FOB and convene/chair the CDCC Tactical - Operational Management teleconference.
  • put systems in place for restriction notices to be served, and livestock to be culled and disposed of, if appropriate
  • investigate and identify potential sources of disease, or premises that may have been infected as a result of spread from the suspect premises
  • in the case of zoonotic diseases, e.g. avian influenza or rabies, provide a register to the NHS board Consultant in Public Health (Medicine) (CPH(M)) of all persons entering infected premises or exposed to infected material
  • in case of zoonotic disease, provide representation on the NHS led National and local IMTs as required
  • arrange for sampling and dispatch of samples when required
  • liaise with local veterinary practices
  • arrange patrol visits in the immediate area around the IP (most likely the PZ, or equivalent)
  • identify high-risk premises and prioritise visits to them
  • supervise the welfare of animals being culled and prioritise the order of animals culled
  • supervise and advise on correct biosecurity measures to be adopted (principally by keepers of susceptible livestock)
  • carry out preliminary C&D of infected premises, and approve secondary C&D carried out by the owner
  • consider the risk of wildlife vectors and notify relevant partners
  • consider the issue of specific movement licences
  • agree any necessary action with local authorities/Police Scotland to restrict access to IPs
  • raise awareness and inform the public of any movement restrictions via local media
  • assist in the establishment of a local helpline
  • undertake surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate absence of disease and seek to gain recognition of disease freedom

4.2.8. FOB operational partner meetings

FOB operational (FOB Ops) partner meetings will provide an opportunity for APHA to convene ad hoc meetings to enable discussion on what the operational partners could potentially contribute to the local outbreak response, and what they may need from APHA to meet their outbreak response obligations. FOB Ops meetings are expected to be more frequent at the start of the outbreak and will be called when there is insufficient time during FOB bird tables or CDCC Tactical-Operational Management teleconference to address issues. Issues regarding wider consequence management should not be discussed at FOB Ops meetings, but referred to Resilience Partnerships.

The chair will be the APHA Veterinary Advisor (Field Delivery) – VA(FD) and the colleagues from External Communications will provide the Secretariat.

Other participants (or their representatives) will be:

  • local authorities
  • SEPA
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspection Division (RPID)
  • CPHM (if zoonotic disease)
  • Other partners may be co-opted as the need arises

To ensure rapid decision making, this should be a senior officer involved in the outbreak. It is anticipated that likely issues to be discussed would be:

  • current disease picture
  • strategic, tactical and operational approach
  • opportunities for operational partners to support the outbreak response
  • problems or issues operational partners have when delivering their outbreak response roles
  • horizon scanning

4.3. Scottish Government

4.3.1. General

The Scottish Government will establish the extent of the various control zones that may apply. If required to manage the wider consequences, Scottish Ministers may also request the activation of SGoR. Scottish Government will obtain its expert advice from the National Experts Group (NEG), a permanent group of scientists, meteorologists, economists and veterinary representatives from within and out with government, which during outbreaks will provide specific technical and scientific advice and recommendations on the disease, its transmission and its control, with a view to supporting government policies. Expert advice will also be sought from EPIC[2], a consortium of Scottish-based scientific and research experts.

The Scottish Government's main roles are to:

  • co-ordinate and manage the Scottish disease control response
  • chair the DSG
  • staff the national disease response helpline, if required
  • draft and issue general licences and zone declarations
  • ensure necessary legislation is in place
  • ensure relevant information on disease control developments is shared with SGoR (if activated), NDCC, other UK administrations
  • handle national animal health policy issues that develop during the response to the outbreak and its aftermath
  • establish and chair Scottish national stakeholder groups
  • ensure appropriate action is taken on export and import requirements
  • liaise with the local and national media
  • coordinate media issues with other agencies and stakeholders, e.g. local authorities, NHS boards, PHS, SEPA, and Police Scotland, especially through the Resilience Partnerships
  • liaise with communications teams in other UK administrations, APHA and Resilience Partnerships

4.3.2. SG Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID)

RPID staff have technical expertise in livestock farming and will be vital in informing policy decisions. They will have representation at both the DSG and the FOB. The Principal Agricultural Officer (PAO) and their staff of the affected region will provide professional agricultural and administrative support to the CDCC as required. RPID staff have an important role in liaising with the local farming community and providing local knowledge.

The responsibilities of RPID staff in the CDCC/FOB include:

  • providing support as required under direction of APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland
  • logistical management of operations in any zones
  • providing logistical assistance in initial surveillance, valuation, culling, disposal and C&D operations, as required under direction of veterinary inspectors
  • liaising with farmers
  • staffing national and local helplines
  • providing general agricultural advice to APHA staff
  • providing resources for the finance function
  • preparing, issuing and delivering forms as appropriate

4.4. Local Authorities

4.4.1. General

Local Authorities (LAs) fulfil a significant role within the coordinated response to outbreaks of notifiable animal disease. In addition to the exercise of their statutory duties in relation to the enforcement of disease controls, the local authority can provide advice and education at the local level. They are empowered to monitor compliance with the conditions of movement licences and measures such as housing requirements which may be imposed upon animal keepers. LAs may support the work of APHA through the provision of resources including staff (for foot patrols), vehicles, equipment and buildings. In the event of a zoonotic disease outbreak, LAs would also support NHS boards and the National IMT.

4.4.2. Enforcement and licensing

LAs have statutory enforcement powers in animal health matters. LA Animal Health Inspectors would be called on for assistance if disease was suspected in a market or other animal gathering, and may be called upon to serve restriction notices and secure infected or suspect premises.

LA staff are likely to be called upon to provide advice to the public on restrictions, monitor compliance with legislation, investigate incidents of non-compliance and issue official notices.

Depending on the disease, mobile patrols may tour the areas under movement controls to ensure compliance with movement restrictions. LAs will also be responsible for closing public access, although this is only likely to be required in a foot and mouth disease PZ for a short period.

High standards of biosecurity for milk tankers, feed lorries and other essential visitors to farms will be critical to the control of diseases. To achieve this, fixed C&D disinfection sites may be established within the controlled area. In exceptional circumstances, roadside C&D points may also be required for vehicles leaving the control zones/areas. This response would not be required in the first few days of an outbreak. In both circumstances, it is likely that the APHA would identify the labour sources through existing contingency contracts, but LAs may be involved in helping to identify these sites and managing the work.

Depending upon disease, livestock markets may be closed for a period of time, but once disease is contained, collection centres for slaughter stock may be permitted, and monitoring of standards at these sites will fall to LAs.

Essential activities and movements will need to be licensed by the licensing sections of the CDCC, and biosecurity of permitted activities will require to be monitored.

Local authorities may be asked to assist APHA and local Scottish Government RPID officers in the issue of licences for movements.

4.4.3. Road signs

LAs will be responsible for producing and erecting signs warning of the disease at controlled zones/area boundaries when disease is confirmed. Signs will be erected in consultation with APHA, Police Scotland and Traffic Scotland for non-trunk routes.

4.4.4. Overview/summary of LA responsibilities:

  • provide representative(s) to participate in NDCC bird table meetings and input into the Outbreak Coordination Group (OCG) overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2)
  • representatives from Police Scotland will be invited to be part of the FOB. A liaison officer of appropriate rank may be based in the FOB to co-ordinate commitment of Police Scotland resources as required. They will be included in the daily "FOB Manager Briefing" as "FOB staff". Additionally, they could be required to participate in the "FOB Operational Management teleconference" subject to agreement by the chair.
  • support NHS boards in the local investigation and management of the incident
  • provide a representative to the NHS led National IMT, where required
  • as part of the Infected Area Management Team, provide advice on suitable C&D sites within and around the controlled area
  • provide assistance where possible on provision and procurement of resources and staff – especially in the early stages
  • assist in delivery of restriction notices and securing of suspect and infected premises
  • check and enforce compliance with all disease control measures, especially movement controls and licences
  • supervise the operation of markets and collection centres
  • serve restriction notices and revocation notices on request of APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland
  • assist at vehicle checkpoints
  • advise farmers of restrictions and provide information to the local population
  • advise APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland on local issues that may impact on control measures
  • implement and advertise official closures on land in a PZ, where there is a public right of access on request from the DSG
  • identify private water supplies, and monitor both municipal and private supplies

Affected local authorities may also wish to consider deploying a liaison officer to the Disease Policy Unit (DPU) in Saughton House, to help ensure strong disease control communication links are maintained. Access to Wi-Fi will be provided by Scottish Government.

4.5. Police Scotland

4.5.1. General

Police Scotland's response to an animal disease outbreak will depend upon the severity and nature of other requirements being placed upon them. APHA may request assistance from Police Scotland for their specialist knowledge in the area of management and co-ordination of major incidents. Police Scotland will work closely with responding agencies to enforce movement controls and the policing of the IPs and controlled zones/areas, depending on resource availability.

Section 60(1) of the Animal Health Act 1981 imposes a statutory duty on the police to execute and enforce this Act and orders made under it. Sections 60-62 of the 1981 Act provide police constables with the powers of entry, search and arrest. The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 Section 49 and Schedule 1, details the powers available to constables and these include entry and search; stopping and detaining vehicles; and arrest without warrant. Section 32 & 35 gives powers to alleviate the suffering of animals in distress, including powers to destroy if necessary.

4.5.2. Operational requirements

Representatives from Police Scotland will be invited to be part of the FOB. A liaison officer of appropriate rank may be based in the FOB to co-ordinate commitment of Police Scotland resources as required. They will be included in the daily "FOB Manager Briefing" as "FOB staff". Additionally, they could be required to participate in the "FOB Operational Management teleconference", subject to agreement from the chair.

The operational role of officers in the field will be the enforcement and investigation of incidents, and when necessary, charging of offenders.

Officers may be called upon in the early stages of an outbreak to control access to premises under restriction, because of suspicion of disease.

As only police officers have powers to stop vehicles on the public road, uniformed officers will be called upon to assist in enforcement of any livestock movement ban and will provide appropriate mobile units to support biosecurity patrols operating in close proximity to the IP (for most diseases this would be the 10 km zone around an IP).

Field operations around IPs, disposal sites, and C&D sites may affect the normal flow of traffic. Police officers may be required to assess the situation and advise on traffic management, road closures and/or signage. Should roadside disinfection points be necessary, Police Scotland will have a role in advising on suitable sites. Police Scotland would also be involved in the approval of disposal transport routes of infected carcases removed from the IP. The transport route will be agreed by the National Police Chiefs Council and the NDCC and may require cross border coordination with English forces.

Field disease control operations may attract some public attention. Therefore police officers may be required to maintain order and ensure public safety, e.g. at loading or disposal sites.

4.5.3. Overview/summary of Police Scotland responsibilities:

  • enforcement of any movement bans or controls
  • provide a representative to the FOB
  • provide a representative to NDCC bird tables; and where appropriate, FOB bird table meetings.
  • input into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2).
  • prevent public access to IPs and officially closed pathways/land
  • stopping and checking vehicles transporting animals – with local authority support; detain and/or seize suspected animals or things in the infected area, or as requested by APHA or local authorities
  • public order and traffic control
  • provide traffic management and safety advice on the set up of infected area and patrol staff for any necessary enforcement action

4.6. Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

4.6.1. General

SEPA is Scotland's environmental regulator and, amongst other things, has a duty to protect and improve the environment and to ensure waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health or using processes or methods that could harm the environment. In between outbreaks, SEPA, APHA, National Resources Wales and the Environment Agency meet on a quarterly basis to discuss outbreak preparedness.

Consultation between SEPA and APHA will be in accordance with the Joint Memorandum of Understanding.

4.6.2. Representation to NDCC

  • In the event of a notifiable disease outbreak, a SEPA representative will be invited to join the NDCC bird table; and where appropriate, FOB bird table meetings, to provide advice on the environmental impact of activities, and assist in:
  • providing advice to APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland on the control of pollution at disposal sites, on depopulated premises and at C&D sites
  • providing advice on environmental enforcement
  • advising on pollution prevention, including the site of C&D facilities and their operation
  • monitor the impacts of the outbreak on the environment
  • input into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2)

4.6.3. Specific advice to officers working in the field

SEPA officers should be consulted on the management of run-off from C&D sites and on the legislative requirements for the appropriate disposal of materials from clean-up operations.

Full consideration should be given to the environmental risk of the storage or disposal of large quantities of slurry or wash water from the IP. As many of these issues will be site specific and will depend on whether disease is suspected or confirmed, and indeed which disease it is, providing detailed information in this plan is very difficult. However, a contingency plan template, for use by livestock keepers, has been prepared to help intensive agriculture sites covered by the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations to put in place their own plans to deal with mass mortality events.

During disease outbreaks, advice on the statutory implications and best site(s) for the burial of anything, including carcases, should be sought before any decision is made.

Should roadside C&D stations be necessary, environmental impact assessments (EIAs) will be undertaken prior to starting operations.

4.6.4. Overview/summary of SEPA responsibilities

  • provide representative to NDCC bird table: and where appropriate, FOB bird table meetings
  • advise on siting and operation of any C&D points in the Infected Area and the disposal of waste (including the potential for significant amounts of waste water and slurry) from IPs, e.g. used disinfectant, veterinary medicines, feedstuffs and poultry manure etc.
  • advise on carcase disposal decisions
  • advise on the use of authorised incinerators, rendering plants and landfill sites for carcass disposal policy

4.7. NHS Boards

4.7.1. General

The role of the NHS Boards will depend on the disease. In all cases, the CPH(M) will be informed of any report cases or suspicion of disease. Upon suspicion of disease, the public health response will be led by the local CPH(M) in close liaison with PHS in line with local incident management arrangements.

If disease is subsequently confirmed, and has zoonotic potential, a National Incident Management Team (IMT) will be convened by PHS to coordinate the multi-agency public health response to the outbreak in Scotland.

The local NHS board CsPH(M) will represent the NHS board(s) on the National IMT and will be responsible for the local implementation and operational aspects of the public health response to the incident as agreed by the National IMT.

The CPH(M) may convene a local NHS board IMT to facilitate this, especially in the early stages of the investigation, in line with their local incident management arrangements. CsPH(M) from relevant NHS board areas will be invited to attend the FOB and/or NDCC bird table meetings.

The NHS Board's role during an outbreak of animal disease with zoonotic potential is to:

  • provide a representative to the CDCC/NDCC and where appropriate, FOB bird table meetings.
  • provide representative to the National IMT chaired by PHS
  • provide advice on the potential risk to humans arising from animal health activities, including outbreaks of animal disease
  • advise on necessary control measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), prophylaxis/vaccination, and treatment where necessary
  • respond to health related queries from the public, local health staff and delivery partners, including setting up a helpline where required
  • ensure continuity of health care in affected areas
  • ensure the local implementation of the public health response to the outbreak, including the provision of prophylaxis/vaccination for farm workers and/or the local population where appropriate.

See Appendix A for a map of the NHS board areas.

4.8. Public Health Scotland (PHS)

4.8.1. General

PHS will take the lead on the human health aspects of an animal disease outbreak.

PHS's main role during an outbreak with zoonotic potential is to:

  • provide expert advice to all professionals involved in the management and control of incidents of zoonotic disease
  • provide operational support to NHS Boards in relation to the public health response to the incident
  • upon confirmation of an outbreak of disease with zoonotic potential, convene and lead the National IMT to coordinate the public health response to the outbreak in Scotland
  • provide a representative to the DSG and CDCC
  • provide a representative to NDCC bird tables; and where appropriate, FOB bird table meetings.
  • input into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2).
  • contribute to communication and briefing requests from Government and other operational partners

4.9. Food Standards Scotland (FSS)

4.9.1. General

FSS provides inspections at approved meat, poultry and cutting plants to protect both public health and animal health and welfare. All approved slaughterhouses are supervised by Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVS). FSS would be invited to attend meetings of the DSG.

FSS is also responsible for ensuring all cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses have the appropriate documentation and identification (e.g. ear tags or other markings) to enable them to be traced to their premises of origin. In the case of cattle and horses, individual passports are required.

FSS is also responsible for providing advice to the public concerning implications for the food chain arising from an outbreak of exotic animal disease. FSS will also be invited to attend the NDCC bird table meetings and input into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2).

4.10. Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)

4.10.1. General

The SSPCA is an animal welfare charity, and has no statutory powers or duties, but the SG has authorised the majority of individuals employed by the SSPCA as "inspectors", as defined in section 49 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Inspectors can investigate complaints of cruelty and welfare, and report alleged offences to the Procurator Fiscal, as the SSPCA has special reporting agency status. The SSPCA can also provide a uniformed presence to assist with animal welfare functions if requested by APHA.

SSPCA responsibilities include:

  • providing assistance with monitoring compliance with movement licences;
  • accompanying vehicles on request;
  • providing an independent welfare audit;
  • attending daily NDCC bird table meetings and inputting into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2);
  • additional responsibilities specific to rabies: provision of equipment and expertise in relation to handling animals.

4.11. Scottish Water

4.11.1. General

It is essential that no operational activities contaminate watercourses, especially those that are used for human consumption. The CDCC must maintain close liaison with Scottish Water, who monitor major reservoirs and the national distribution network. The LA monitors municipal and private supplies.

Scottish Water will liaise with the CDCC through SEPA. SEPA may be able to help identify areas of high risk to the CDCC Manager.

4.12. Traffic Scotland

4.12.1. General

Road signs publicising the boundaries of areas under official restriction will need to be placed at all major road entrances and exits.

Field activities surrounding carcase disposal and C&D of premises may involve the use of heavy vehicles, causing disruption to local traffic flow.

All of these activities will require consultation and coordination between the Local Authority Roads Departments and Transport Scotland. Transport Scotland will liaise with the CDCC through Police Scotland.

4.13. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

4.13.1. General

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will be called upon to give specific advice if pyres are used to burn and dispose of carcases. They may also be required to assist at an IP at times of extreme weather, e.g. heavy snowfall, flooding etc.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will liaise with the CDCC through Police Scotland.

4.14. Military

4.14.1. General

There are no plans to involve the armed forces in the operational response during a disease outbreak.

However, depending on the emergency, a Joint Regional Military Liaison Officer (JRMLO) may be invited to attend SGoR to provide advice to the Scottish Government.

4.15. NatureScot

4.15.1. General

NatureScot's involvement in disease control is principally advisory, particularly around advice on local wildlife and its management. In that capacity, wildlife specialists within NatureScot may be invited to attend NEG meetings. NatureScot will also be invited to attend the daily NDCC bird tables and input into the OCG overnight reports (see paragraph 5.1.2).

4.16. Industry groups

4.16.1. National

Regular meetings with industry will be held at both a national and local level for the duration of the outbreak. At a national level, CVO Scotland will usually chair these meetings, which will be a forum for operational partners, policy officials, veterinary advisors, industry representatives and welfare specialists to highlight areas for concern and contribute to their resolution.

Industry representatives play a key role in advising on issues surrounding the outbreak and its impact, enabling quick and evidence-based disease control measures and policy responses. The frequency of meetings will be determined based on the specific circumstances in discussion with stakeholders.

The key national exotic disease specific stakeholder groups are:

  • Avian diseases group
  • Bluetongue/FMD group
  • Equine diseases group
  • Pig diseases group

4.16.2. Local

APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland will establish and chair a local level stakeholder group with industry representation. These meetings will provide a forum for updating local stakeholders and operational partners and for discussing any concerns.


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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