A new equine health and disease surveillance network to share information between veterinary practitioners, laboratories and horse owners has been created in Britain.
EVSNET (Equine Veterinary Surveillance Network for the UK Equine Population) is an initiative from the University of Liverpool, funded by The Horse Trust.
There is currently no comprehensive national surveillance of equine health records within Britain. EVSNET aims to be a system for syndromic surveillance and research on a large, real-time and continuous scale in the UK equine population. This project will use health data from diagnostic laboratories and veterinary practices.
The information recorded by veterinary practitioners about patients is extremely useful for understanding the diseases affecting patients.
It will run along similar lines to the country’s Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET), which has an established methodology for collecting data and making it ready for research that requires owners to opt out of participation if they do not wish for their animal’s data to be included. This approach works because owners visit a veterinary practice where they can find out about SAVSNET before the consultation begins.
But as horses are rarely transported to a veterinary practice, EVSNET will develop a new methodology for collecting data from equine electronic health records which is then de-identified and used for surveillance and research. It will establish the ethical, owner consent, data capture and data sharing framework for collecting equine electronic health data, and design a simple clinical syndrome-level coding system in collaboration with equine practitioners. Equine veterinary practices will then be invited to join EVSNET and submit data for equine research and surveillance.
Coventry-based BattLab and BioTe Veterinary Laboratories in Salisbury are the first diagnostic laboratories to join EVSNET.