Britain's animal disease response to be tested

A MAJOR exercise to test Britain’s animal disease readiness and operational response is being planned for the summer.

Involving the Welsh Government, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), Defra, the Scottish Government, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland (DARDNI) and other key partners, it will test the ability of all four UK governments to deal with a significant outbreak of Classical Swine Fever.

Exercise Walnut will take place on June 12 and 13 2013 and simulate a UK-scale outbreak of CSF to test existing plans and policies for the control and eradication of this significant exotic notifiable disease.

As part of the exercise the Emergency Co-ordination Centre will be established in Cardiff, with a Disease Strategy Group and a Central Epizootic Disease Control Centre also being set up in Edinburgh and Belfast respectively.

“In its programme for Government the Welsh Government made a commitment to review and test contingency plans for animal disease emergencies. This exercise is helping us to meet that commitment,” says Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths.

“Exercises such as this enable the Welsh Government to work closely with partner agencies and the other administrations in order to prepare to deal with an outbreak effectively.”

According to the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Professor Christianne Glossop, Exercise Walnut would help to ensure that governments were prepared to respond to future disease outbreaks.

“It will allow us to identify better ways of working with our partners, and help ensure our approach to managing a significant disease outbreak is properly co-ordinated,” she added.

“It will give us a realistic real-time simulation to establish our state of readiness for dealing with a disease outbreak and also enable us to explore our relationship with the Welsh pig industry.”

The test will involve three tabletop exercises, an on-farm exercise and a number of expert and strategic policy group meetings.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Would it not be preferable for the effort and expense involved in this exercise to be concentrated at our borders to prevent disease entering the country in the first place?

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