Epidemiology, Economics and Risk Assessment

Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC)

Aiming to advise the Scottish Government and industry stakeholders on the risk of spread of emerging diseases and on how to prevent it

Flock of sheep on farm


What is EPIC?

EPIC is the Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks which is funded by the Scottish Government. EPIC bringing together Scottish-based expertise under one umbrella to best prepare Scotland's livestock industry and stakeholders for disease outbreaks. EPIC aims to advise the Scottish government and industry stakeholders on the risk of spread of emerging diseases in cattle, sheep and pigs, and on how to prevent and control this risk.

EPIC is a consortium involving seven Scottish research institutions (University of Glasgow, the James Hutton Institute, the Moredun Research Institute, the Roslin Institute, Scotland’s Rural College, Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland and the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems) and some 40 researchers and support staff working either full or part-time on the project.

EPIC’s multidisciplinary team include vets, mathematical modellers, environment scientists, social scientists and economists working together ensuring disease control is considered in a holistic way.

What is the research about?

EPIC seeks to foster a unique and synergistic environment in which scientists who are expert in veterinary medicine, epidemiology, genetics, physics, mathematics, social science and economics can come together to respond to policy-relevant questions in ‘peace-time’ as well as during animal disease emergencies.

This initiative involves partnership with Scottish Government veterinarians, scientists and policy officials, as well as engagement with stakeholders and the public, to capitalize on shared knowledge and expertise and ensure that decisions for local action are based on robust evidence, as is fundamental to improving further the resilience of Scottish livestock industries.

The centre provides top quality epidemiological advice to Scottish Government to guard against, and/or in response to, animal disease outbreaks. The consortium flexibly occupies the continuum between applied, policy-responsive work and longer term, curiosity-driven research. Applied research forms the basis of advice to policy makers whilst the researcher driven enquiry is essential to sustain the experience-base, quality and credibility of the science available to inform policy.

What EERA does in EPIC?

EERA is a leading partner in EPIC. The work of EERA  in EPIC is broad and diverse, with members of staff coordinating research in assessing control options, improving surveillance and horizon scanning. EERA  works on different diseases of livestock and in a wide context.

Vector-borne diseases – The risk to Scotland's landscape

Foot-and-mouth disease – Assessing the benefit of vaccination in Scotland

African and classical swine fever – Improving preparedness of Scotland and the UK

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) – Pioneering new techniques to improve diagnostic

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea – Supporting Scotland in its eradication programme


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Selected publications


S.J. Lycett, F. Duchatel and P. Digard (2019) A brief history of bird flu. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 374. doi:10.1098/rstb.2018.0257

T. Porphyre, K.M. Rich, and H.K. Auty (2018) Assessing the economic impact of vaccine availability when controlling foot and mouth disease outbreaks. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 5:47. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00047

C. Guinat, T. Porphyre, A. Gogin, L. Dixon, D.U. Pfeiffer, S. Gubbins (2018) Inferring within-herd transmission parameters for African swine fever virus using mortality data from outbreaks in the Russian Federation. Transbound Emerg Dis. 65(2):e264-e271. doi:10.1111/tbed.12748

T. Porphyre, C. Correia-Gomes, et al. (2017) Vulnerability of the British swine industry to classical swine fever. Scientific reports 7:42992. doi:10.1038/srep42992

P.R Bessell, K.R. Searle, H.K. Auty, I.G. Handel, B.V Purse, B.M. de C. Bronsvoort (2016) Assessing the potential for Bluetongue virus 8 to spread and vaccination strategies in Scotland. Scientific Reports, 6, 38940.  doi: 10.1038/srep38940

H.E. Roy, H. Hesketh, B.V. Purse et al. (2016) Alien Pathogens on the Horizon: Opportunities for Predicting their Threat to Wildlife. Conservation Letters 10(4): 477-484.  doi: 10.1111/conl.12297

G. Rydevik, G.T. Innocent, G. Marion et al. (2016) Using Combined Diagnostic Test Results to Hindcast Trends of Infection from Cross-Sectional Data. PLoS Comput Biol. 12(7):e1004901.  doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004901