USDA, Auburn provide new tool for first responders

WASHINGTON – To prepare for the intentional and unintentional introductions of animal diseases into the nation's food production pathway, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the release of an informational compact disc for federal and state agriculture first responders.

"This new tool provides federal, state and private veterinarians immediate access to resources and relevant information to help them more effectively identify, respond to, control and facilitate recovery from a foreign animal disease outbreak," Veneman said.

The compact disc, "Food Security: The Threat to American Livestock," was developed in conjunction with Auburn University. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service helps to ensure the safety of all animal and plant products from the farm to the food distribution centers located around the country. The agency has embarked on an extensive program to enhance its readiness to detect, deter and respond to terrorist events involving plant or animal pathogens. State and federal officials who have a role to fulfill in the event of an unintentional or intentional threat to U.S. livestock will also have access to this data bank.

Shortly after the events of Sept.11, Veneman formed a Homeland Security Council within the department to develop a plan and coordinate efforts among all USDA agencies and offices. The council focused on: food supply and agriculture production, USDA facilities and staff and emergency preparedness.

APHIS' compact disc addresses emergency preparedness and brings homeland security issues to the forefront of private veterinary practitioners and other agricultural first responders, as they conduct their daily activities. It offers comprehensive information on infectious disease threats to livestock, animal disease awareness briefings, standard veterinary medical information for diagnosing such diseases and emergency information gathering and reporting mechanisms.

Additionally, this information resource outlines routine biosecurity measures for on-site farm visits, recommends emergency response plans and suggests disease monitoring methods. The Food Security CD supports the National Animal Health Emergency Management System's goals, which are:

-- Preventing the introduction of foreign and emerging animal pathogens

-- Being prepared to detect and manage an outbreak of a foreign animal disease

-- Having an appropriate response system for control and eradication of the disease

-- Having a system for recovery from the animal health emergency event.

e-mail: [email protected]

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