Dr Ruth Watkins: recommendation to EU

veterinary diagnostic service is based on service provision and not on research.


It is a little more difficult to encapsulate my talk in 3 sentences than I had thought- these sentences are quite long but clearly describe the scenario I advocated in my presentation to the EU.  If this had been followed the results would have been very different in the UK.  I am not providing an original solution but describing what happens in all European countries in human medicine.  There is virtue in the standards of the laboratory service for human medicine - and the career it creates for doctors and scientists would provide an attractive one for some of the DEFRA personnel.


The three sentences for the EU report summarizing standards for the provision of a virology diagnostic service for animals


  1. We recommend that each EU country has a modern automated computerised virus laboratory to diagnose a number of different viruses e.g. FMD, WNV, vesicular diseases of swine, bluetongue, rabies, etc (all viruses that may cause epidemics) and that this laboratory is headed by a consultant veterinary virologist who shall be responsible for the provision of the diagnostic service and this will be reflected in the job description; assessment is based on service provision and not on research.


  1. The consultant veterinary virologist shall be responsible for interpreting the laboratory results and issuing a printed report for each specimen to the veterinarian who visited the farm / animal took the specimen(s).



  1. During an epidemic this good laboratory practice is sustained and the consultant veterinary virologist (not a ministry official / DEFRA) is to be consulted by veterinarians in the field regarding diagnosis of infection, also, the consultant is responsible for supplying accurate data on infection based on laboratory results to the epidemiologists (e.g. DEFRA) on a daily basis.


Paul Sutmoller had a very interesting comment to make on my talk: this is exactly what occurs in the USDA and the vets get a printed report issued by the laboratory.  However as we know this did not happen in the UK during the FMD epidemic.  The UK government (DEFRA) has admitted that the number of laboratory confirmed cases of FMD infection is rather lower than the much publicised number of 2030 which contains all those that were clinically diagnosed but tested negative in the laboratory- thus proven not to be FMD cases.  The number of cases confirmed by the detection of evidence for FMD infection in the laboratory was 1328.  Please see the tables I gave you of the DEFRA figures, I enclose this DEFRA source document also as an attachment. (298 farms said to have FMD infection were never sampled at all.)


I am sure Holland and Ireland have not included as cases of FMD those farms which tested negative in the laboratory.