If you suspect that an animal in your care has been infected with a serious infectious disease, you are obliged to immediately report it to a veterinarian. Veterinarians, or other animal health staff, who suspect an Epizootic disease are obliged to urgently report it to the County Administrative Board.
An Epizootic disease is a serious infectious disease that may constitute a threat to both people’s and animals’ health. There is a special law to facilitate combating these diseases, and it regulates how to act if you suspect that there might be even a minimum risk of further infection.
Obligation to report certain animal diseases and infectious agents
If you are taking care of an animal and suspect that it has been infected with one of these diseases, you are obliged to immediately report it to a veterinarian. Examples of Epizootic disease are foot and mouth disease, anthrax, swine fever, bluetongue, rabies, and Newcastle disease.
Special obligation to report for veterinarians
A veterinarian, who suspects that an animal has been infected with an Epizootic diseases or salmonella, is obliged to urgently report it to the County Administrative Board or to the Swedish Board of Agriculture via e-mail or phone.
There are other animal diseases that also may be transmitted between animals and humans, and that are under the obligation to report. A list of the animal diseases and infectious matters covered by the notification obligation can be found in the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s instructions on notifiable diseases and infectious matters. In these cases, the obligation to report applies to veterinarians as well as to staff working with autopsies or in laboratories.
The obligation to report applies to each index case. For example, a veterinarian who suspects any of the following horse diseases must notify the County Administrative Board:
- Equine Influenza type A
- Equine abortion virus (central nervous form)
- Equine viral arteritis
In case of other diseases covered by the notification obligation, the current form must be filled in and sent to the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the relevant county administrative board.
What happens after the report?
After receiving a notification from a veterinarian suspecting an infectious disease, the County Administrative Board will take different measures depending on the disease involved. For example, we may contact other relevant authorities to coordinate combative efforts, send information to relevant organizations and practicing veterinarians, and ensure that the investigating veterinarian receives protective clothing and sampling material.
The occurrence of animal diseases in the county
Current data on the occurrence of animal diseases in the county, and in other parts of Sweden, can be found on the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s website.
Descriptions of the diseases, and information about current cases of animal diseases, can also be found on the National Veterinary Institute’s website.
Brief information on reported equine diseases is published on the Swedish Trotting Association’s website.
Who is responsible for the disease control?
The Swedish Board of Agriculture has the overall national responsibility for disease control and for combating infectious animal diseases.
The County Administrative Board and the County Medical Officer share the regional responsibility for preventive disease control of animals in the county. The County Medical Officer knows, and informs, about current disease cases in the county.
The County Administrative Board cooperates with disease control specialists, the County Medical Officer, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Public Health Agency, the National Food Administration and the National Veterinarian Institute as well as with veterinarians operating in the field and county municipalities.
Serious outbreaks of infectious animal diseases
If the county is struck by an outbreak of a serious infectious animal disease, a so called Epizootic disease, the County Administrative Board coordinates the combative efforts. We are also responsible for ensuring compliance with the decisions made in relation to various efforts to combat the disease.
Single cases of infected pets
When single cases of infected pets are found, and there is a risk that the animal may transfer the disease to humans, the municipal environment and health protection committee is responsible for taking proper action for disease control.
The County Administrative Board supports and inspects animal health staff
The County Administrative Board carry out inspections of animal health staff in the county. The aim of our inspections is to ensure that all animal health workers comply with the law and have a good disease control in their various practices.
Who and what is inspected?
The County Administrative Board inspects veterinarians and other animal health staff, including veterinarian nurses and certified farriers as well as others that are working with animal health care. For example, registered nurses, dentists and physiotherapists. The aim is to ensure that all animal health workers comply with the law and have a good disease control in their various practices.
Inspections in a number of veterinary work places are carried out every year. The inspection focuses on the use of medications and antibiotics, medical records and archives, preparedness and the practice of combating infections with certain antibiotic resistant bacteria as well as the handling of medications and hazardous waste. We also check that all animal health care establishments have an appropriate hygiene practice. Examples of animal health care establishments are animal hospitals, animal clinics, community veterinary practices and district veterinary practices.
When is a certificate from a veterinarian needed?
An animal welfare inspector is not allowed to make veterinarian assessments, for example to assess if an animal is suffering. When the County Administrative Board asks an animal keeper for a veterinary certificate, it is usually because the keeper single-handedly has not, or is not planning, to seek veterinary care for an animal despite the fact that the animal needs it.
Confidentiality and obligation to report
Animal health staff in private (not public) practices are not obliged to share information with anyone, with exceptions of data and information that the County Administrative Board needs to be able to supervise the practice, or of what is required by law. All animal health staff is, for example, obliged to report to the County Administrative Board if they notice that animals are not being kept or taken care of in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
If you own a horse, you need to make sure it has a passport. All horses in the EU are required to have a valid passport, no matter their age or breed. The County Administrative Board is responsible for the supervision and we may require you to obtain a passport for your horse. If the horse does not have a passport, you may be prosecuted.
The purpose of the passport is both to ensure that medications, and residues from medications, do not end up in our food products, and to support the efforts of limiting infection by serious infectious animal diseases.
The breeder’s organisations issue the horse passports. If the horse dies, or are put down, you need to get the passport voided by contacting the breeder organisation that issued your horse’s passport in the first place.
Hygiene regulations for all animal husbandry and health care establishments
Since 2013, there is a special hygiene legislation that, among other things, requires the possibility for people to wash and disinfect their hands when inside an animal facility. These rules do not apply if you only keep animals in your home.
If you have a visitor facility, where people are offered opportunities of direct contact with animals, you also have to have visitor rules and if you offer three or more visiting opportunities per year you must notify the activities to the County Administrative Board. This also applies if the animals are brought to people, as, for example, in the case of support dogs.
Special rules apply to animal health care establishments to prevent the spread of infections in the health care system.
Handling of animal waste
To prevent the spread of infection from animal waste, so called animal by-products, there is a comprehensive regulatory framework on how animal waste may be used and handled. For example, you may not feed pigs or birds food waste that contain any traces of meat or any other products from animals. On the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s website you can find more information about how to handle animal waste.
The County Administrative Board inspects transports of animal by-products. To transport such material you must be registered with The Swedish Board of Agriculture.