Core Partner, BSL3, EU

Website Facebook Twitter

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The Agency was launched on 1 April 2011 following the merger of Animal Health, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and Defra’s Advice Services Team. On the 1 October 2014, AHVLA became part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
APHA exists to “Support a healthy and sustainable food and farming industry across Great Britain, and safeguard society from animal related threats“ by:

  • Providing evidence and trusted expert advice for decision making on issues of animal welfare and animal and human health.
  • Ensuring the most effective, economic and timely prevention of, and response to disease and implementation of decisions about animal health and welfare.

The aim of the merger was to bring together field services, regulation, expertise and scientific capability on animal health and welfare into one agency. The key reason for doing this was to make both the delivery of these important services and the ability to respond to disease outbreaks more resilient in the current difficult economic situation. We employ around 2,600 staff and operate from sites across Great Britain, including centralised facilities at Worcester and Weybridge and a network of offices, laboratories and post mortem facilities.

We have the capability and commitment to deliver a wide range of animal and public health and welfare policies for the different Government Administrations. This ranges from field activity on-farm through to specialist laboratory and scientific services. As well as delivering our routine work we maintain a key capability to respond to animal disease emergencies both in the field in Great Britain but also, through our reference laboratory function, to support the management of disease in Northern Ireland, the European Union and worldwide. Our main customer is Government – specifically Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Governments. We also provide services to the Food Standards Agency, other government departments, the farming industry, international bodies and commercial customers worldwide.

APHA staff includes scientists, administrators, laboratory attendants, animal technicians and veterinarians. The majority of the human resources for this project lie within the Virology Department (Prof Fooks), which allows for effective planning and flexibility. Additionally, key resources are provided by staff within the TSE Archive Department (Mr Bardsley) since the knowledge of managing large-scale biological archives are pivotal to the success of this project. The APHA Sequencing Unit (Dr Ellis) provides state-of-the-art technologies for pyrosequencing and bio-informatics. We are the national and international reference laboratory for a wide range of animal diseases. The bulk of the veterinary resource within APHA is based at our regional laboratories, engaged in surveillance within UK.

We work closely with other UK government agencies including Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).


  • High containment laboratories for handling zoonotic viruses at BSL3
  • Animal handling facilities – large animal at BSL3
  • Insectary in containment laboratory at BSL3
  • Dedicated on-site sequencing unit with various pyrosequencing platforms