The AVMA is working with officials in Washington, DC, to draft legislation outlining procedures for preventing the introduction of a foreign animal disease in North America, and a well-coordinated emergency response plan to be implemented in the event of an outbreak. The Executive Board authorized the initiative.
The Association sees this as a necessary measure, given the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Western Europe, and West Nile virus in the United States.
The bill the AVMA Governmental Relations Division would pursue could provide immediate assistance to the USDA for prevention of an outbreak, and for the formulation of an emergency response plan in the event of outbreak of foot-and-mouth or other contagious foreign animal disease.
Such legislation may include provisions to place a veterinarian at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which serves as the president's science policy staff. That veterinarian could coordinate the responses of multiple government agencies and could recommend research needs.
In addition, the legislation may help clarify the USDA's authority in affected states during emergency situations. Emergency funds would also be made available for hiring personnel.