Proposed terms and concepts for describing and evaluating animal-health surveillance systems

01 Oct 2013
Hoinville LJ, Alban L, Drewe JA, Gibbens JC, Gustafson L, Häsler B, Saegerman C, Salman M, Stärk KD.

The information provided by animal-health surveillance helps to reduce the impact of animal diseases. The widespread movement of animals and their products around the world results in an increasing risk that disease will spread. There is, therefore, a need for exchange between countries of comparable information about disease incidence; the exchange must be based on a common understanding of surveillance approaches and how surveillance systems are designed and implemented. Establishing agreed-upon definitions of surveillance terms would be a first step in achieving this standardisation, and will enhance transparency and confidence. To this end, a workshop was held with the aim of agreeing upon key terms and concepts for animal-health surveillance. In this paper, we describe the methods used at the workshop and summarise the discussions. A complete list of all the proposed definitions including lists of characteristics that can be used to describe surveillance activities and attributes for evaluation of surveillance is available in the workshop report (available at Some important issues were highlighted during these discussions; of particular note was the importance of economic efficiency as an evaluation attribute. Some remaining inconsistencies in the proposed use of terms are highlighted (including the definition of 'risk-based surveillance' and the use of the term 'event-based surveillance').