A guide to preparing for animal health emergencies
Nick Honhold, Ian Douglas, William Geering,
Arnon Shimshoni, Juan Lubroth
An animal disease emergency, such as an outbreak of a transboundary animal disease (TAD), can have serious socio-economic consequences which, at their extreme, may affect the national economy. If a new disease can be recognized quickly while it is still localized, and if prompt action is taken to contain and then progressively eliminate it, the chances of eradication of the disease are markedly enhanced. Conversely, eradication may be extremely difficult and costly, or even impossible, if the disease is not recognized and appropriate control action is not taken until the disease is widespread or has become established in domestic animals or wildlife.
Planning for emergency disease eradication or control programmes cannot be left until a disease outbreak has occurred. At that point, there will be intense pressure from politicians and livestock farmer groups for immediate action. In such a climate, mistakes will be made, resources will be misused, deficiencies will be rapidly amplified and highlighted. Delays will result in further spread of the disease and higher costs. If there is inadequate advance planning, national animal health services will face a disease emergency with poor training and little or no previous experience. These severe problems can be avoided if there is adequate advance planning and preparation.