Planning, Early Detection and Local Responders Make First Line of Defense Against Animal DiseaseMon, 07 Aug 2017 16:51:17 CDT
Last week, the Oklahoma Pork Council hosted the National Pork Council along with several other members of Oklahoma’s ag community, as well as some of the state’s emergency managers and other stakeholders, for a tabletop exercise simulating a scenario in which Foot & Mouth Disease is discovered in Oklahoma. The exercise is designed to help train and prepare those, a scenario like this would involve, in case such a situation ever occurred. Dr. Patrick Webb is the NPB veterinarian, and conducted the exercise. He spoke to the importance of having an exercise like this with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays. To hear their full conversation, click or tap the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“The diseases we’re talking about are diseases that we don’t have in the United States, but have international and domestic repercussions if you get them,” Webb said. “If we were to get those, it would disrupt the flow of pork and pork products. So, we need to plan ahead and we need to make sure we have the resources and the infrastructure in place to help mitigate those diseases even though we don’t have them - because there would be such dire economic and production impacts to the industry. It’s important to be prepared now.”
Citing research from a study that examined the economic impact of a disease outbreak, Webb says the discovery of FMD in Oklahoma, or anywhere in the country for that matter, could have the potential to cost not just the pork or beef industry, but the entire ag-sector significant losses. He says the financial losses would easily reach up to $20 billion.
“When these diseases strike,” he said, “we’re all kind of in the same boat, because the impacts on trade and production and disease control measures would all reduce our ability to be profitable as an industry.”
Luckily, though, Webb says the federal government has emergency response plans in place to head off any potential threats to the collective health of our livestock populations. And efforts are being made to improve those systems today even - in order to better control and contain any potential hazards that may arise.
“The National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, is doing vital work in order to make people aware we have to change our vaccine bank structure, to make sure we have short, medium and long-term vaccine to use in an outbreak so we can use other things to try to control it, contain it and get rid of it.”
While vaccines are an extremely important tool in the toolbox, Webb insists the frontline of defense at the local level, is where vigilance and preparedness come in as the most practical weapon against spreading disease.
“When we get folks here and train them, a lot of times they walk out of here going, ‘Hey I didn’t even know I was going to be involved in this,’” Webb remarked. “It becomes that local response that’s imperative to have, and a lot of people at the local level or outside of agriculture don’t even know they’re going to be playing until they come to a training like this.”
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