Press release

News Release
Issued: Monday, January 31st, 2011

Released by: the University of Edinburgh Press and PR Office

Guide outlines best practice for studying the spread of veterinary diseases

Research into the spread of animal diseases is set to become more effective with the use of new guidelines published.

Scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow have produced a checklist for researchers which will also help policy makers interpret data used to inform animal and public health decisions.

The guidelines, known as The Guide to Good Practice for Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology, include more than 200 recommendations to ensure best practice for areas including computer modelling, data interpretation and communicating with policy makers.

They could, for example, be used to guide analysis of the impact of badger culling on bovine TB or the control major outbreaks such as foot and mouth and help to inform policy decisions.

Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said:  “Scientific methods exist that allow us to be confident in certain scenarios, for instance when a plane is safe to fly – but it is hard to translate these to biological systems. Such confidence levels are the aim of clinical trials – for instance whether or not drugs are safe to use – but there are no set standards when, for example, it comes to the use of mathematical models of the spread of diseases, even though these can have major impacts on animal or public health. This set of guidelines aims to provide a benchmark to help gain that level of confidence.”

The guidelines aim to help policymakers and other interested parties become more familiar with and confident of complex analyses of epidemiological data intended to predict the spread of disease or the effectiveness of control measures.
The guidelines are also relevant to science in other fields. This could include adopting similar principles for quantitative analysis in areas related to climate change, economic forecasting or risk assessments.

The guidelines were created as part of a Report by the Veterinary Training in Research Initiative Project, with funding from Defra and the Scottish Funding Council.

For further information please contact:
Tara Womersley, Press and PR Office, tel +44 (0)131 650 9836; +44 (0) 7791 355804; Email

Details on The Guide to Good Practice for Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology can be accessed at