A large scale exercise to see how the Government would cope with a major swine fever outbreak begins today (June 12).

A major exercise gets underway today (June 12) to see how the Government would deal with a significant outbreak of classical swine fever (CSF).

Dubbed “Exercise Walnut”, the two-day operation involves the AHVLA, Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

Exercise Walnut will be taking place over the next two days and will simulate a national scale outbreak of CSF, testing the Government’s existing plans and policies for the control and eradication of this significant exotic notifiable disease.

Organised by AHVLA, the realistic, real-time simulation will establish Britain’s state of readiness, and help to identify how plans and procedures for managing disease can be improved. It will also test proposed new draft legislation.

As part of the exercise, a national disease control centre (NDCC) and local disease control centres (LDCCs) will be established in Perth, Leicester and Caernarfon. In addition, a disease strategy group (DSG) will be set up in Edinburgh, an emergency coordination centre in Wales
(ECCW) in Cardiff and a central epizootic disease control centre (CEDCC) in Belfast.

Gordon Hickman, head of contingency planning and regulatory affairs for AHVLA, said the exercise would help to ensure Government was prepared to respond to future disease outbreaks.

“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,” he said.

“We must continue to test and improve our disease control measures, and put ourselves in the best possible position to minimise the impact on farmers and their livestock should the worst occur.”

Two table-top exercises took place earlier in the year, information from which is being fed into the main exercise. The exercise will conclude in July with a third table-top looking at recovery issues.

An evaluation report for “Exercise Walnut” will be published later in 2013.

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