Groups create resource on readiness for foreign animal disease

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, both of which count bovine veterinarians among their members, have developed a set of guidelines to protect veterinary businesses in the event of an outbreak of a foreign animal disease in livestock.

The document is meant to provide guidance for veterinary practices that are not within disease control areas to maintain essential public and private veterinary services throughout an FAD emergency while implementing and maintaining biosecurity protocols to mitigate potential disease spread.

Veterinarian at work on a diary farm
Recent guidelines from American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Academy of Veterinary Consultants advise veterinary practitioners on ways to prepare for an outbreak of a foreign animal disease and how to react after one is discovered.

An FAD emergency, such as an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or African swine fever, is a worldwide concern. If introduced into the United States, FMD could have major animal health and welfare impacts--untold numbers of animals would suffer from its ill effects. In addition, there would be devastating effects on trade and global economics.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (PDF), various factors influence the management of foreign animal disease, including increased international travel, evolving infectious agents, trade agreements, and the uncertain impact of biotechnology.

The guidelines help veterinarians apply biosecurity measures, safeguard their clinics, answer common client questions, maintain continuity of business, and access additional information during an outbreak.

For example, the AABP-AVC guidelines suggest a 72-hour movement standstill following the first U.S. diagnosis of a foreign animal disease. In the early stages of an outbreak, extra caution is needed by everyone visiting businesses with livestock, especially veterinarians performing farm calls.

Allocation of resources during an outbreak will likely prioritize the infected premises, and practices that are not within a disease control area will need to maintain essential veterinary services while also mitigating potential disease spread.

Practitioners should identify their state animal health official and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service area veterinarian in charge or veterinary medical officer prior to an FAD emergency. State and federal animal health officials will be responsible for communicating disease control actions including stopping movement of animals and animal products, quarantine, test administration and analysis, and animal depopulation and disposal.

The guidelines also indicate that before an outbreak occurs, veterinarians could encourage all livestock clients to keep a log of who is on their farm and when, that way they can refer to records for easier tracking of disease.

The guidelines are available for download on the AABP website (PDF).