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Challenges to exotic disease preparedness in Great Britain: the frontline veterinarian's perspective

Cardwell, Jacqueline; Spence, Kelsey; Rosanowski, Sarah; Slater, Josh


Jacqueline Cardwell

Kelsey Spence

Sarah Rosanowski

Josh Slater


Background: Exotic diseases pose a significant risk to horse health and welfare. Several stakeholder groups, including primary care veterinarians, share responsibility for maintaining freedom from pathogens that cause exotic diseases. However, little is known about the current state of exotic disease preparedness within the British horse industry.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore equine veterinarians’ experiences of, and attitudes towards, exotic disease preparedness in Great Britain.
Study design: Qualitative interview-based study.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 primary care equine veterinarians in Great Britain. Participants were purposively selected to include perspectives across varying levels of experience, clientele, and location. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Three themes were developed: 1) the reactive generalist, relating to participants’ self-concept of their role as primary care practitioners; 2) working within the bounds of influence, encompassing participants’ perceived inability to influence their clients’ knowledge and behaviours; and 3) a fragmented horse industry, illustrating the wider culture in which participants worked, characterised by a lack of cohesion amongst its members.
Main limitations: Only veterinarians’ perspectives have been captured, so viewpoints from other stakeholders, such as horse owners and government officials, should be used to triangulate these findings.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that improvements are required before an optimal level of exotic disease preparedness can be achieved. Additional support provided to frontline veterinarians, such as skills-based training (i.e. clinical reasoning and collaborative relationship building), accessible and trusted emergency support networks, and clear expectations and responsibilities during an outbreak are recommended to optimise exotic disease preparedness.


Cardwell, J., Spence, K., Rosanowski, S., & Slater, J. (2021). Challenges to exotic disease preparedness in Great Britain: the frontline veterinarian's perspective. Equine Veterinary Journal,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 20, 2021
Publication Date Jun 21, 2021
Deposit Date May 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 30, 2021
Print ISSN 0425-1644
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL


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