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Iowa tests foreign animal disease response plans

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State animal health officials refine plans to contain disease outbreak at a livestock exhibition.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recently hosted a day-long tabletop exercise to test its foreign animal disease response plans. State and federal animal health officials worked alongside producers and agriculture industry leaders to prevent and prepare for a potential foreign animal disease outbreak at a livestock show. The exercise is part of the Department’s ongoing commitment to preparing for a potential foreign animal disease outbreak.

“Iowa’s livestock industry is critical to the nation’s food supply and our state’s economy. A foreign animal disease outbreak would disrupt the supply chain and be emotionally and financially devastating to producers,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We are continuously working with producers and our federal and industry partners to prevent an outbreak. We must also be prepared to respond quickly if an outbreak occurs within the United States. These exercises allow us to test our plans and identify gaps, and we learn something new every time we host one.”

Previous workshops, tabletop exercises

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has participated in a series of foreign animal disease workshops and tabletop exercises over the past several years to strengthen its response plans.

In September 2019, the Department and 14 other swine-producing states participated in a four-day African Swine Fever workshop led by USDA APHIS to test current foreign animal disease response plans. Each day of the exercise focused on different tactics that would be deployed during an outbreak — detection, containment, eradication and cleaning and disinfection.

In December 2020, the Department co-hosted a foreign animal disease planning and preparation workshop with USDA APHIS, with support provided by the Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health. The two-day tabletop exercise brought state and federal animal health officials, Iowa livestock producers and industry representatives together to test the state’s plans to distribute a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine if an outbreak occurs.

Resources for producers

  • Foreign animal disease webinars

Practicing good biosecurity every day on the farm is the best way that farmers can protect their livestock from any infectious disease, including a foreign animal disease. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is partnering with the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University to host a series of webinars about biosecurity and species-specific foreign animal diseases. To register for an upcoming webinar or watch a previous recording, click here.

  • Premises Identification Program

Livestock producers in Iowa should register their livestock facilities with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Premises Identification Program. It is critical that producers keep their contact information, including a phone number and email address, up to date so state animal health officials can contact them if a foreign animal disease outbreak occurs.

  • VIDEO: How to set up a cleaning and disinfection corridor

The Department, working in conjunction with Iowa State University, developed a video showing livestock producers how to set up a vehicle cleaning and disinfection corridor to protect their farms and neighboring farms during a foreign animal disease outbreak. All vehicles, trucks, trailers and equipment entering or exiting a farm during a foreign animal disease outbreak should be properly cleaned and disinfected to help prevent pathogens from spreading to other locations and livestock. The video is a free resource for livestock producers and is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s biosecurity web page.

Resources for veterinarians

If a foreign animal disease breaches U.S. borders, it will take a quick, coordinated response from state, federal and private animal health experts to mitigate the spread of the disease.

  • IowaFADefense program

The Department launched the IowaFADefense program to train veterinarians how to rapidly detect, respond to and contain foreign animal diseases affecting livestock and poultry. The program will also increase the number of veterinarians who are trained and able to assist the Iowa Department of Agriculture and USDA in responding to a foreign animal disease outbreak. The IowaFADefense program is free to Iowa veterinarians.

  • VIDEO: How to become a category II veterinarian

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also released an online video explaining how veterinarians licensed to practice in Iowa can obtain or renew their USDA Category II accreditation status. If a foreign animal disease outbreak occurs, the Department may call upon private Category II Accredited veterinarians to assist with the disease response.

These and other foreign animal disease preparedness and response resources are funded through the state’s Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response fund. During the 2021 session, the Iowa Legislature renewed its commitment to continue supporting the Department’s emergency response planning and coordination efforts.

To learn more about the state’s foreign animal disease response plans, click here.



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