Emerging animal diseases such as West Nile virus, Schmallenberg virus in Europe and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus have the potential to negatively affect animal health, public health, and trade. In response, the Veterinary Services (VS) division at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) presented its "Proposed Framework for Response to Emerging Animal Diseases in the United States” in 2014.

This week, VS updated its efforts by releasing a new document titled “Emerging Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Plan.” The new document expands on the previous framework and describes the processes by which VS will identify, evaluate, and respond to emerging diseases in animal populations. 

Because of the unknown nature of emerging diseases, VS notes, defining a specific response plan is not possible. Some emerging disease will be reported after an acute impact in a limited number animals; some will be recognized only after a longer term impact on animal health or production.

In response to these challenges, VS intends to use a collaborative approach to increase awareness of, detect, characterize, investigate, and respond to emerging disease threats as well as provide accurate information to all interested parties.

The goals of the plan are to outline four core activities associated with detection and response to emerging animal diseases.

  1. Undertake global awareness, assessment, and preparedness for animal diseases or pathogens not currently in the United States that may be of animal or public health concern or have trade implications.
  2. Detect, identify, and characterize disease events.
  3. Communicate findings and inform stakeholders.
  4. Respond quickly to minimize the impact of disease events.

A fifth goal, addressing recovery from the event, would include strategies that stabilize animal agriculture, the food supply, and the economy, and protect public health and the environment. These activities, including the secure food supply plans, are an extension of the VS plan and are not detailed in the new document.

VS is inviting stakeholders to review and comment on the draft plan. Comments should be e-mailed toVS.SPRS.Feedback@aphis.usda.gov no later than November 1, 2016.  

The document can be accessed at online from APHIS-VS.