Foot-and-mouth practice planned
Published:  04 June, 2010

Government bodies are holding a training exercise in November to test Britain’s ability to deal with a significant outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Exercise ‘Silver Birch’ will simulate a large-scale foot-and-mouth outbreak to test existing plans and policies for the control and eradication of exotic diseases in animals.

Organised by Animal Health in conjunction with Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments, it will run over two days from 9-10 November 2010. ‘Silver Birch’ is aiming to help identify how plans, structures and procedures for managing disease can be improved.

Animal Health conintengency planning head Gordon Hickman said: “Exercises such as this allow us to identify enhanced ways of working, and help to ensure our approach to managing a significant disease outbreak is joined up and co-ordinated.

“Everybody involved with livestock farming in the UK is already working hard to prevent a re-occurrence of the kind of foot-and-mouth outbreak that affected the industry in 2001 and 2007. However, it is essential that we plan for a realistic worst-case scenario, and make sure that we are in the best possible position to minimise the impact on farmers and their livestock, should the worst occur.”

As part of the exercise, a National Disease Control Centre and multiple Local Disease Control Centres will be established as they would be in the event of a real outbreak. In addition, a Disease Strategy Group will be set up in Edinburgh, and an Emergency Co-ordination Centre (Wales) in Cardiff.

Objectives have been established to determine the success of exercise ‘Silver Birch’ and an exercise evaluation report will be published in early 2011.

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