At the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge, King Charles met staff and scientists to hear about their extraordinary efforts to protect animal and plant health, control and eradicate animal and plant diseases, and reduce new and emerging threats in the UK.
APHA, which operates in England, Scotland and Wales, is an agency within the UK Government’s Department for Environment and Agriculture (DEFRA) established on 1 October 2014 to protect animal and plant health for the benefit of people. , environment and economy.
During the visit, the King was joined by Lord Benyon, Minister of State for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs, who received a briefing on the UK’s largest avian flu outbreak.
Since the outbreak began in October 2021, 332 cases of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in poultry and other captive birds in the UK.
Concurrent with the COVID-19 pandemic, APHA staff worked tirelessly to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible while protecting public health.
The king also learned about genome mapping during his visit.
Technological advances have enabled APHA to incorporate whole-genome sequencing into infectious disease surveillance to understand the viruses and bacteria responsible.
This data allows APHA to understand disease transmission between wildlife, domestic flocks and poultry farms, helping to develop methods to reduce and ultimately eliminate diseases.
DEFRA’s Director of Animal and Plant Health and Welfare and Lead Scientist, Dr Phil Hogarth, told King Charles about his work to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in England. Her Majesty then joined a discussion on how climate change in Europe could increase the risk of mosquito-borne viruses in the UK and APHA’s efforts to prepare for this.
Before leaving, the King was introduced to APHA’s front-line staff and scientists, including those joining virtually from England, Scotland and Wales, and staff from Ukraine’s Pet Emergency Response Team.