Preparing for next disease outbreak

OTTAWA — Porcine epidemic diarrhea, Seneca Valley virus and bovine tuberculosis won’t be the last livestock disease outbreaks seen in Canada.

That much is known.

Preparing for the unknown — the next disease, weather disaster or even bioterrorism that affects farmed animals — is the task at hand.

That is what led the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council to publish recommendations about preparing for an emerging issue.

The list of six was released in October and discussed in more detail Nov. 29 by project lead Dr. Megan Bergman, Manitoba’s chief veterinary officer.

An analysis of how PED was handled when it infected hog operations in Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba in 2014-16 was useful in developing recommendations, said Bergman.

A seven-member working group found that experiences among provinces were not the same when it came to PED and concluded that a national preparedness plan would be useful.

Recommendations focus on early detection of the problem, a collaborative approach and effective communication. The latter proved important when government and the industry were dealing with PED, said Bergman.

“We found that the communication approach was embraced by the industry,” she said.

“They ended up setting up national calls, which were actually initially facilitated by CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), and there was a lot of positive feedback from the producers saying, ‘we needed that, we were glad to have an update in terms of what was going on from province to province.’ ”

Lack of communication has been a common complaint about to the bovine tuberculosis investigation in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which began in early October.

“Hopefully going forward, these recommendations can be employed with many of our national disease issues,” said Bergman.

The six recommendations to prepare for emerging livestock issues includes:

  • Industry and governments should develop a co-ordinated approach to risk mitigation for emerging disease.
  • They should support, communicate and use enhanced biosecurity.
  • Industry and governments should commit to developing emergency preparedness.
  • They should ensure there is adequate financial and personal support for producers and others affected by a disease outbreak.
  • They should ensure international acceptance of risk mitigation and early detection measures.
  • They should investigate potential for assured access to slaughter plants in a disease outbreak.

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