UK tests ability to deal with swine fever

A test of the government’s ability to deal with a significant outbreak of Classical Swine Fever (CSF) will be carried out as a national exercise soon.

‘Exercise Walnut’ will involve the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Scottish and Welsh governments, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

Although it is only a simulation, test organiser the AHVLA said it will be conducted in real-time and will establish the country’s state of readiness, as well as identifying how procedures can be improved.

The exercise will take place between 12-13 June and aims to simulate a national-scale outbreak of CSF, in order to test the government’s existing plans and policies surrounding the disease.  

Head of contingency planning and regulatory affairs for AHVLA Gordon Hickman said the exercise would help ensure the government was prepared to respond to future disease outbreaks. He added: “Exercises such as this allow us to identify better ways of working, and help ensure our approach to managing a significant disease outbreak is properly coordinated.”

As part of the exercise, a national disease control centre and smaller local disease control centres will be established across the country. Additionally, a disease strategy group will be set up in Edinburgh and an emergency coordination centre will be set up in Wales, along with a central epizootic disease control centre in Belfast.