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APHIS announces emerging animal disease preparedness, response plan

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Under development since 2014, plan outlines strategy to detect and respond to emerging animal diseases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Veterinary Services unit announced July 14 that it is making the “Emerging Animal Disease Preparedness & Response Plan” available.

The plan outlines a strategy to detect and respond to emerging animal diseases and define the processes that APHIS will use to identify, evaluate and respond to emerging diseases in animal populations.

Emerging disease events may negatively affect animal health, public health and trade. Examples of emerging diseases in the U.S. in the past 20 years include porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, infectious salmon anemia, West Nile virus and, more recently, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.

APHIS developed the framework for this plan in 2014, then shared an initial draft of the plan for input with federal and state agencies, American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), livestock groups and individuals. Their feedback is included in the current plan, APHIS said, noting that this is a living document, which may be updated as infrastructure or policies change.

The plan provides Veterinary Services strategic direction to detect and respond to emerging animal diseases and outlines the processes it uses to identify, evaluate and respond to emerging diseases in animal populations. Rather than providing a single process to fit all emerging diseases, the announced plan outlines roles and responsibilities across Veterinary Services business units for evaluating animal health information and determining response options.

The plan also describes the need for communication and collaboration among Veterinary Services, state animal health officials and animal industry representatives and stakeholders to effectively detect and respond to emerging animal diseases.

The APHIS plan lists the following items for preparing and responding to emerging diseases:

1. Learn what diseases outside the U.S. could cause animal or public health concerns or impact trade and prepare for them.

2. Detect, identify and characterize disease events.

3. Communicate with stakeholders and the public.

4. Respond quickly to minimize the impact of disease events.

The response plan can be viewed here.

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