The Department of Agriculture is calling for increased surveillance and reporting of foreign animal diseases in the tragic aftermath of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In an e-mail to federal and state agencies and animal health groups, the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service warns about the "potential for additional acts which may impact national security." No possible case of a foreign animal disease should be disregarded, the letter reads, and potential hoaxes are to be treated as real until proven otherwise. Specific attention is to be given to livestock and poultry.
Investigators and laboratory personnel are advised to implement an appropriate level of personal protection when examining animals, carcasses, and submitted samples until potentially zoonotic diseases can be ruled out.
Early detection remains the key to minimizing the impact of such a disease introduction, the letter states. Questions should be directed to the USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services, Emergency Programs staff at (301) 734-8073, (800) 940-6524, or EMOC@USDA.GOV.