Animal Health and Disease Monitoring in the Abattoir

Ed van Klink, Pia Prestmo, Andrew Grist

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All slaughter animals are examined before and after slaughter by an Official Veterinarian. Findings of diseases and conditions that could affect public health or animal health have to be reported to the management of the abattoir and the private veterinarian as well as the farmer of the farm of origin. The abattoir provides a vast amount of information on zoonotic and notifiable diseases, as well as diseases relevant for animal husbandry or on-farm animal health. Notifiable diseases can be identified through clinical signs (e.g. foot-and-mouth disease), but in specific cases samples are taken for serological surveillance (e.g. Aujeszky’s disease). Surveillance and monitoring schemes are generally based on the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Organisation for Animal Health. Bovine tuberculosis is another example of a disease for which monitoring and surveillance is often entirely based on abattoir detection. For transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE’s) abattoir sampling constitutes an important proportion of all samples taken. Monitoring of public health threats, including diseases such as trichinellosis and cysticercosis, remains an important element of the inspection practices in the abattoir. Monitoring of trichinellosis can be risk-based: only pigs expected to be at a higher risk of infection are included in the testing regime. Abattoir sampling is also used for assessment of compliance with legislation on residues of antimicrobial drugs in meat. The number of samples is small, but the sampling itself has a preventive effect. An important category of diseases are those relevant for the performance on farm. Some examples are lung and heart lesions, as well as several parasitic diseases such as liver fluke. Indicators for welfare problems on-farm may also appear at slaughter. Foot lesions in poultry and tail biting in pigs are some examples. Abattoir information is easy and cheap to come by and is underutilised at the moment, particularly to feed into animal health management on farm. It would be advisable to design a feedback system in which post mortem findings are described with the interest of the farmer and her/his veterinary surgeon in mind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-335
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Monitoring
  • abattoir
  • surveillance
  • notifiable disease
  • eradication
  • disease free status
  • herd health


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