Web-scraping applied to acquire difficult to access animal disease outbreak information, using african swine fever in Europe as an example.
Surveillance data are key to informing decisions on the control and prevention of transboundary and emerging diseases. Here, we describe new methods for acquiring difficult to access, publicly available disease surveillance data. We use World Organisation for Animal Heath (OIE) data on African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in European countries to showcase the importance of adequate disease surveillance data to inform decision-making. The data acquired using these methods allow for large scale, geospatial outbreak mapping and estimation of summary statistics for any listed terrestrial disease in the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) database. These techniques will make valuable epidemiological data more accessible to the scientific community, aiding further insight into the occurrence and spread of transboundary and emerging diseases in a timely manner, fulfilling an important function of disease surveillance.