Thanks to the favourable geographic position and renowned work of veterinary administration no especially dangerous animal infections have occurred in Estonia in the course of time. The last case of especially dangerous infectious disease spread in Estonia in 1994, when classical swine fever was spreading in one pig farm. The good epizootic situation of our animal populations is based on supervision and supported by legal acts.
Supervision of animal health is based on Veterinary Organisation Act that establishes the bases of organisation of veterinary activity. Veterinary activity is a system of measures, applied for protection of animal and human health and for guarantee of animal welfare, including activities in the field of animal health, animal product hygiene and animal protection.
In the field of animal health Infectious Animal Disease Control Act is very important, that contains both common (for example commitment to identify and register animals) and concrete (for example directions for activities to be taken during epidemic) measures of precaution and control of infectious animal diseases. In prevention, suspicion or presence of animal epidemic there is need for compact co-operation with Veterinary and Food Laboratory, performing necessary laboratory examination.
In case of suspicion or presence of infectious animal disease activity is based on the infectious animal disease control rules, established by the Ministry of Agriculture. According to infectious animal disease control rules the spreading of infectious animal disease has to be blocked and the source of infection has to be eliminated. The infectious animal disease control rules are obligatory for all animal-breeders, handlers of animal products, persons in the spreading area of infectious animal diseases, supervising officials, authorized veterinarians, licensed veterinarians and veterinary laboratories and other persons, connected with the infectious animal disease control due to of their jobs.
The control and compensation of all especially dangerous and part of dangerous infectious animal diseases are financed through the state budget, as established by the regulation of Government No 260 of 1 August 2000 (VVm RT I 2000, 65, 420) and regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture No 69 of 23 November 2000 (PÕMm RTL, 2000, 122, 1927).
Veterinary and Food Board collaborates with other countries, administrations, ministries and organisations (OIE, the European Council, WHO etc.) regarding animal health issues.
Prevention of infectious animal diseases
On the basis of Animal Infectious Disease Control Act, accepted on the 16th of June 1999 (RT I 1999, 57, 598; 97, 861; 2000, 82, 526; 2001, 3, 4; 88, 531; 93, 566; 61, 375; 63, 387; 96, 566; 19, 135) the National Infectious Animal Disease Control Programme was created by Veterinary and Food Board in 1999 for prevention and control of infectious animal diseases.
In the state programme of surveillance and monitoring of infectious animal diseases the volumes of control measures for infectious animal diseases and animal species have been defined to monitor the general situation of infectious diseases in Estonia. The volumes of vaccinations and inspection of animal breeding facilities have also been presented.
The Director General of Veterinary and Food Board establishes the national infectious animal disease control program and all the costs of its application are being covered by the state budget.
The program of next year is compiled on the basis of the number of animals and the prognoses presented by the counties. Diagnostic studies are concentrated on the diseases with avoiding of which the veterinary service has dealt systematically every year, for example leucosis and diseases of list B of OIE, which are not lethal, but in spite of this may cause essential harm for animal breeding through fall in the production, breeding and other indirect factors.
An authorised veterinarian should control the farms in his working area and once a year, issue a control report regarding situation in each inspected farm and fill in special control report regarding milk farm for every animal rearing facility with dairy cows.
As to vaccinations, priority means are focused on protecting domestic animals from wild rabies. Hopefully Veterinary and Food Board would be able to start a program of oral vaccination of wild animals in the near future that would enable the Estonian Republic to achieve a rabies-free status.
According to the program authorised veterinarians should perform the foreseen procedures.
The veterinarians report about performed studies, vaccinations and inspections to the veterinary administrations of the counties monthly; the respective data will be controlled and collected. The veterinary administrations of the counties are to report to Veterinary and Food Board quarterly. Veterinary and Food Board is liable to report to international veterinary organisations. In case whichever especially dangerous infectious animal disease is diagnosed in Estonia, Veterinary and Food Board would be obliged to inform international veterinary organisations, the European Council, Member States and the veterinary administrations of the neighbour states.
Identification of farm animals
Every animal keeper is obliged to ensure the identification of his farm animals according to § 10 of Infectious Animal Disease Control Act. Identification is necessary for the animal keeper himself in order to get a better overview about his herd and its production capacity; for the veterinarian, performing necessary medical treatment in the farm and in need to determine an exact scheme of treatment for the cured animal and later to have information about the prohibition period for milk and meat; it is also necessary for the authorised veterinarian, performing infectious animal disease prevention work and later inspection of the animal farm.
Identification of farm animals is very important in case of spread of dangerous infectious animal diseases where all animals adjacent to the infected one, also all their successors and parents have to be determined very precisely.
Plastic ear tags, containing a non-recurrent number in the Republic of Estonia, identify farm animals. All bovine animals, sheep and goats have to be marked with the plastic ear tags. Both ears of bovid will be marked with ear tags, while goats and sheep will be marked with an ear tag in the right ear only. The number on the ear tag is the register number of the animal, which is remaining the same throughout his lifetime. Means necessary for marking animals are issued at the expense of the animal keeper. Animals may be marked either by a veterinarian, livestock production expert, assistant etc., but however, the keeper of the animal is responsible for timely marking and registration of the animal.
The keeper of animals is required to keep an updated register of farm animals, owned by him and register them in the register of farm animals, as established in the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act and descending legal acts. Local government should arrange the keeping of a register on dogs and on other pets as well if necessary. Many local governments have generated pet registers for cats and dogs. In addition, the Estonian Pets Veterinarians Foundation has created a pet register as a service for pet owners.
The list of farm animals subject to identification, procedures of their identification and registration, issue of registration certificates and form of a cattle passport, instructions for composition of the animal description and the procedure for keeping the register are established by the Government or the authorised ministry.
The register of farm animals is a legal register, generated on the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture on the basis of Data Collection Act. More detailed information about it can be found on the homepage of Agricultural Registers and Information Board.
The responsible processor of the register of farm animals is the Ministry of Agriculture and the authorised processor of the register is the Agricultural Registers and Information Board.
The data, presented by the animal keeper about registered farm animals owned by him, farm buildings or premises for livestock or restricted area used for keeping animals will be entered into the register. The geographic co-ordinates of the registered farm building or premises for livestock or restricted area used for keeping animals should be presented to register by the authorised processing specialist.