I’m Jonathan Smith. I’m a Scientific Officer at the the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) working on better use of data to deliver positive outcomes.Recently, I’ve been working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) on a project to develop a ‘Notifiable Animal Diseases Register’ which will be a dataset of notifiable diseases.
‘Notifiable diseases’ are animal diseases that you’re legally obliged to report to APHA, even if you only suspect that an animal may be affected.
Notifiable diseases can be:
- endemic – already present in the UK, such as bovine TB
- exotic – not normally present in the UK, such as foot and mouth disease
This work is part of a project to create a range of Registers which will be a key part of the UK’s government's digital infrastructure.
APHA first published data on investigations into exotic (which are not usually notifiable) disease investigations on data.gov.uk as part of the #opendefra accelerator project in 2016. Following on from this, we’ve identified an opportunity to publish and maintain a consistent dataset on the current disease status.
Having a range of registers will reduce duplication of information across many of our current systems as well.
The Notifiable Diseases register is in the Alpha phase, ready for users and service teams to access data that is accurate, up-to-date and authoritative.
We’re currently looking at formulating a data standard for Animal Health, and this Notifiable Diseases register will be the first step in the process.
We’d like to hear from you to make sure the infrastructure we’re building meets your needs.
In particular, we’d like to know:
- Any additional details you’d like to see, such as whether a disease is zoonotic (this is an animal disease that can affect humans). Currently species affected by a disease are left out of the register, as there are already other sources of this data.
- Whether the current key make sense? It uses common abbreviations for diseases such as FMD for Foot and Mouth disease, but there are currently no internationally agreed standards for abbreviating Notifiable Diseases. Do you use different abbreviations?
- Are you developing, or have you already developed a service that requires data on notifiable diseases?
We are currently investigating the best way of describing current disease situations in a clear and concise fashion, such as the start and end dates, covering from when a disease became notifiable and when it was delisted. This is vital for maintaining our valuable export markets, which will become even more important as UK trade becomes more global in its outlook.