June 15, 2015

 

 National Veterinary Stockpile at the ready

Posted May 27, 2015

The first deployment of the National Veterinary Stockpile was in response to the 2002 outbreak of low-pathogenic H7N2 avian influenza in Virginia. The latest deployments have been in support of the response to the ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza across the country.

“Large-scale outbreaks of damaging animal diseases in the United States are low-frequency, high-impact events,” said Rodney White, who oversees the NVS for the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “The National Veterinary Stockpile is the nation’s repository of critical veterinary supplies, animal vaccine, antivirals, and equipment to support an animal disease emergency response.”

Fully operational since 2006, the NVS maintains veterinary countermeasures against many animal diseases—particularly foreign animal diseases that impact agriculture—and can deploy many resources within 24 hours.

The National Veterinary Stockpile is the nation’s repository of critical veterinary supplies, animal vaccine, antivirals, and equipment to support an animal disease emergency response.”

Rodney White, who oversees the NVS for the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Strategy

In 1999, Congress charged the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with establishing the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, which later became the Strategic National Stockpile. The mission was to provide a resupply of large quantities of essential materiel for human medical needs to states and communities during an emergency within 12 hours of the federal decision to deploy.

In 2004, a presidential directive officially established the National Veterinary Stockpile as a component of the national agriculture and food defense strategy. The NVS augments state resources by being capable of deploying within 24 hours “sufficient amounts of animal vaccine, antiviral, or therapeutic products to appropriately respond to the most damaging animal diseases affecting human health and the economy.”

“The NVS allows APHIS to centrally plan and manage the acquisition of large quantities of material and equipment—and to deliver that material to the right place at the right time,” said White, who is director of the APHIS Surveillance, Preparedness, and Response Services Logistics Center. “The overall plan is to deliver critical veterinary resources before state and local resources would likely be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the outbreak.”

Implementation

White said experts identify and prioritize the most dangerous animal disease threats to the U.S. by examining factors such as epidemic potential, trade impact, economic impact, zoonotic potential, morbidity and mortality, cross-species potential, inability to detect rapidly, and inability to vaccinate.

Then experts identify vaccines and other countermeasures necessary to counter the threats. Considerations include the number, density, and geographic distribution of animals at risk; response time for countering serious outbreaks and expected duration of response measures; issues of policy, research, surveillance, epidemiology, and economics; and the life-cycle cost for purchase, storage, maintenance, quality control, and disposal of the countermeasure.

The NVS contracts with companies to help deploy countermeasures quickly, maintain the cold chain—a temperature-controlled supply chain—for vaccines, and support depopulation, disposal, and decontamination.

White said the stockpile holds its countermeasures in multiple locations so that weather, labor problems, or other events do not prevent it from deploying within 24 hours. He said, “If the NVS cannot deploy from one location, it can always deploy from others.”

A challenge in meeting the 24-hour mandate arises more from the fact that most of the necessary vaccines, including vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease, are available only from foreign manufacturers.







National Veterinary Stockpile logistics exercises: conducting warehouse operations, January 2015, Wisconsin; receiving simulated animal vaccine, October 2013, Texas; assessing mobile animal-handling equipment, September 2012, Colorado (Photos courtesy of USDA)

Collaboration

The NVS assists states with planning for rapid receipt, processing, and distribution of countermeasures, said Dr. Lee M. Myers, state federal liaison for the stockpile. She works directly with federal and state officials and nongovernmental stakeholders to train and conduct discussion- and operations-based exercises.

Previously, states had difficulty determining which resources are available via the NVS. Stockpile officials now publish an online catalog for NVS planners.

Dr. Myers said the NVS also collaborates with the Strategic National Stockpile. She said, “Collaboration helps each stockpile keep aligned with their individual missions and infrastructure, while ensuring the most effective use of resources.”

Over the years, NVS resources have deployed in response to natural disasters as well as disease outbreaks and have provided assistance internationally as well as nationally. Deployments in 2008 provided support for the responses to Hurricane Gustav in Mississippi, Hurricane Ike in Texas, and flooding in Iowa. In 2013, APHIS donated vaccine for classical swine fever to Guatemala, and the NVS facilitated deployment of the vaccine.