"Red Tide" 2012 Regional Outbreak Simulation Exercise: Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Caribbean

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 The Veterinary Services of 10 Caribbean countries/territories* are preparing for a table-top simulation to be held on March 22nd.

Coordination unit in St Lucia

This simulation will focus on improving communication, coordination, resource planning, and preparedness and response for the introduction of a highly contagious animal disease into the Caribbean region. Participants will be linked together virtually through the use of web-based tools. Organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in collaboration with the United-States Department of Agriculture–Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – International Services (USDA-APHIS-IS), the French agricultural research center for development (CIRAD) and the Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET).
The scenario of the simulation reproduces the conditions of an FMD outbreak in the Caribbean, one of the most contagious animal diseases and which has potentially huge economical and societal impacts. FMD causes formation of blisters, of vesicles, in the mouth or on the feet and udders in cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, resulting in significant decreases of animal production and growth. FMD does not affect humans, and the meat and milk from infected animals is safe for consumption. The Caribbean region is free of FMD; however, the disease is still present in some South American countries despite on-going eradication efforts. Current trends in globalization, particularly related to the movement of people, animals, and animal products, increases the risk of disease spread. The regular review of emergency response plans, in combination with farmer education and biosecurity at ports and airports, represent important components of the emergency preparedness and response planning of the veterinary services.


Simulation exercise to improve disease detection and control
The main objective of this exercise is to determine activities that should be undertaken when a highly contagious animal disease is introduced into the region and to test the inter-agency communication and coordination mechanisms that would be used, at both countries, regional and international levels. In each country, Veterinary services, stakeholders working in animal health, national representative of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Agency and other participants will be brought together to discuss priority actions and key roles in responding to a FMD outbreak. Numerous international organizations will be participating in the simulation, either as facilitators, evaluators, or subject matter experts including FAO, USDA, IICA and CIRAD.


Participants used to networking within the VEP project and CaribVET
Most of the facilitators involved in the simulation have been involved in the Veterinary Epidemiologist/Para-epidemiologists (VEP) Project, a 4-year program funded by USDA-APHIS-IS, coordinated by IICA, USDA-APHIS-IS, and CIRAD and under the regional coordination of CaribVET, which ensures that the project meets the needs of the Caribbean countries.
With the objective of strengthening veterinary infrastructure in the Caribbean basin, the VEP project aims to build capacities in Epidemiology, animal diseases surveillance and control, including outbreak and emergency response. Participants have received trainings in outbreak management, participated in simulations and exercises, and drafted emergency response plans which contributed to enhance collaboration and communication between countries.

Lessons learnt during this simulation will be shared with CaribVET, at the next Steering Committee meeting (Georgetown, Guyana May, 7-9) which may pave the way for a future formal regional partnership on animal disease outbreak management.


* Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the USVI, St Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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