The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) National Training and Exercise Program (NTEP) is sponsoring a series of four exercises for the top 14 swine producing states to further their capacity to effectively respond to and mitigate an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF). Three exercises in this series have already been completed: ASF Response Policy Workshop, November 2018; ASF Plan Review and Revision Workshop, February 2019; and an ASF Response Tabletop Exercise (TTX), April 2019. These three exercises have set the stage for the fourth exercise activity, a series of functional exercises and drills to be conducted between September 23 and 26, 2019. We encourage AASV members to be involved in this full functional exercise. To participate and to learn more about your state’s participation in preparation for and during the exercise, contact your State Animal Health Official or your state pork produces association.
The 14 states participating in the exercise are
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
The September exercises are designed to be unique activities targeting key areas of ASF response and mitigation. Each of the 14 states will participate from their departmental operations centers, or equivalent; they will initiate the appropriate scale of the Incident Command System (ICS), as designated in their response plans, and they will deploy field personnel as needed. The general focus of each day’s play is:
- Day 1, September 23 – Conducting a foreign animal disease investigation (FADI) and subsequent coordination and engagement of the National Veterinary Services Laboratory’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NVSL FADDL) and the appropriate laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).
- Day 2, September 24 – Responding to and supporting a state, regional, or national movement standstill depending upon swine populations infected.
- Day 3, September 25 – Implementing the planning and resource coordination associated with depopulating and disposing of infected and exposed swine.
- Day 4, September 26 – Implementing a system to allow continuity of business for non-infected operations within a Control Area.
On Day 1, swine producers in each of the 14 states, who have volunteered to participate in the entire exercise series, will initiate a FADI by contacting the state animal health official (SAHO) and reporting an unusual sickness in their swine. The SAHO, in coordination with the VS Area Veterinarian in Charge (AVIC) will dispatch a foreign animal disease diagnostician (FADD) to investigate. The FADD will go to the operation and conduct a FADI, which includes coordination with NVSL FADDL and the local NAHLN laboratory, the collection of samples, and delivery of the samples to the appropriate NAHLN laboratory. The laboratory will practice sample accession and communication of results. This day is a combination drill and functional exercise.
On Day 2, USDA and the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO) will conduct a joint conference call for SAHOs and VS District personnel, announcing a confirmation of ASF in the United States and initiating, as needed, a temporary state, regional, or national movement standstill, depending upon swine population infected (feral, backyard, transitional, commercial). This call will initiate the functional exercise dealing with a state supporting and implementing response activities including movement standstills.
On Day 3, states will send personnel to each of the participating production operations to engage with the producers/companies regarding depopulation and disposal of infected and exposed animals on the farm. This day of play will involve on-farm play and “office” play for each state’s Incident Management Team (IMT). Play will involve planning and logistics coordination between personnel in the field and the IMT. On each playing farm, responders and producers will determine how to set up for and implement depopulation and disposal. This day of play will be a combination drill and functional exercise.
On Day 4, states will implement their plans to support continuity of business within an ASF outbreak Control Area. In most cases this will involve a state’s Secure Pork Supply (SPS) plan. This day of play will be a combination functional exercise and drill where independent swine producers and integrated swine production companies will submit movement permit requests, either on paper or electronically, based on established control zones. The states will go through the process of permit application review and approval and, for interstate movement requests, the origin and destination states will coordinate on permit review and approval.