Wednesday, July 6, 2022

MPI in disease outbreak simulation

Three senior managers from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are going to the United Kingdom this week to work on a major disease outbreak simulation.

Compliance and response deputy director general Andrew Coleman, response director Veronica Herrera and surveillance and incursion investigation manager Paul Bingham will attend Exercise Walnut which will simulate a national scale outbreak of swine fever.

The exercise will test the UK’s existing plans and policies for the control and eradication of a significant, exotic, notifiable disease.

“A key component of our preparation for a major disease outbreak is researching and exercising possible scenarios, both here in New Zealand and internationally,” Coleman said.

“Walnut will give us first-hand experience of how our UK counterparts manage disease outbreaks. While this particular simulation is of an outbreak of swine fever, the principles are the same for any significant animal disease.

“We are especially interested in the exercise focus on the traceability of animals, management of stock and disposal of carcasses.”

The officials will also visit the Pirbright Institute which is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals and an integral component of NZ’s foot and mouth vaccine programme.

Coleman said collaboration with other countries is vital to ensure NZ’s preparation is in line with international disease control best practice.

“We’re also doing this closer to home. The recently announced trans-Tasman action plan between Australia and New Zealand will see defences against the threat of foot and mouth disease strengthened in both countries."

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