WASHINGTON — The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for the United States, Dr. Burke Healey, along with the CVO for Canada, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, and the CVO for Mexico, Dr. Juan Gay Gutierrez, issued the following statement about the 18th North American Animal Health Committee Meeting (NAAHC).
“The NAAHC meets annually to review and plan our countries’ coordinated activities around animal health, which includes our prevention and preparedness efforts for animal health diseases such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.
This year, we dedicated a special session to discussing African swine fever (ASF), the actions we are taking to prevent its spread to North America, and how to minimize the impact of this disease should it be introduced into the region.
Recent events demonstrate that ASF is an international disease that knows no borders and can move rapidly from one country to the next. As such, it requires a coordinated, international response to ensure our collective readiness for ASF.
We have emerged from these meetings with the foundation for a new North American-specific strategy on ASF.
The strategy will help guide ASF-related coordination and cooperation between Canada, Mexico and the United States in our communications, prevention, preparedness and response activities.
As part of our coordinated effort to keep North America free of ASF, we discussed the following key areas:
- comprehensive disease surveillance
- surge capacity aimed at helping to ensure our labs and people are ready to respond (for example, laboratories of Canada, Mexico and United states would work together to harmonize diagnostic tests for exotic animal diseases)
- contingency plans
- mitigation of risks associated with wild pigs, through activities such as control programs, surveillance, hunter education and farm biosecurity
- border security including inspection and control measures
- business continuity with risk-based movements of animal and animal products
- coordinated risk communications
The next step will be to form a North American ASF working group, made up of government and industry representatives from our three countries under NAAHC.
ASF international collaboration is accelerating as we take these steps in prevention, preparedness and response. The three partners look forward to participating in upcoming international meetings and in forging regional and sub-regional partnerships aimed at leading the effort to keep North America ASF-free.
As part of this, the Mexican delegation announced that they would be hosting a North American ASF Forum in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, on October 22 and 23, 2019, to continue strengthening activities against ASF, and in association with an exercise drill for an ASF outbreak that will test the entire structure of competent authorities.”
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