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Animal and Plant Health Agency
APHA improves response to large-scale outbreaks of animal disease

APHA needed a robust and secure system for managing animal data in the event of an outbreak of disease such as swine fever, foot and mouth or avian influenza.

Field operations and labs working together more efficiently

Following an outbreak of foot and mouth in the UK and criticisms made by the subsequent official enquiry, Defra commissioned a new management system to speed up the collation and dissemination of information during an outbreak and put right a number of deficiencies in the previous arrangements.

The Management of Samples System developed by SFW automated the manual process of managing sample collection information - linking to laboratory information systems and providing a single repository for key data.

It reduced manual input by using electronic links between systems and used validation processes to ensure the integrity of data. During an outbreak the system is made available to government agencies as well as specific external bodies such as the laboratories used to test samples.

Critically important tool in combatting animal disease

In the event of an outbreak, sites can be declared free of disease more quickly and with more confidence, significantly reducing costs for Defra and the farmers affected (estimated at £260k for each day’s delay).

The functionality, flexibility, scalability and security of the system ensures that information about samples remains secure whilst reports are made available to all stakeholders much more quickly.

In addition to the practical and financial benefits, the ability to quickly supply accurate information means that Defra can maintain its reputation and authority during a disease outbreak.

“The system delivered by SFW has significantly improved our capability to handle potentially large-scale disease outbreaks, and it enables field operations and the laboratories to work together to provide a more efficient and rapid response.”

Terry Stacy, Head of Weybridge IT Unit, APHA

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