Disease Defense: National Veterinary Stockpile

The introduction of a damaging animal disease like foot-and-mouth could devastate American animal agriculture, harm the economy, and, for zoonotic reasons, threaten the public's health. Having enough resources for a rapid response is crucial.

The National Veterinary Stockpile (NVS), part of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Veterinary Services, exists to provide states, tribes, and U.S. territories the resources they need to respond to 17 of the most serious animal disease threats (see sidebar).

Operational since 2006, the NVS holds large quantities of veterinary countermeasures that can be deployed anywhere in the United States within 24 hours.

These include packages of personal protective equipment and decontamination supplies, poultry depopulation foaming units, carbon dioxide poultry depopulation carts, avian influenza vaccine for poultry, and antiviral medications for agricultural responders. Commercial support services can deploy within 24 hours to help depopulate, dispose of, and decontaminate animals.

Management of these resources during an ongoing animal disease outbreak is critical. State and local authorities should engage in a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action to achieve and maintain readiness. The APHIS NVS team assists states, tribes, and U.S. territories to plan the request, receipt, storage, control, issue, staging, and distribution of NVS countermeasures. Planning tools such as the NVS Planning Guide for Federal, State, and Local Authorities v2 and the Template for a State NVS Plan are now available on the NVS Web site.  

Training and exercising complement preparedness planning. Training ensures that individuals and logistics teams know what to do during a response, and exercises test their effectiveness and identify necessary improvements. The NVS team collaborates with state and tribal jurisdictions to implement and evaluate their NVS plans through discussion-based and operations-based exercises. The following states and regions have participated in NVS exercises: North Carolina (2006), Georgia (2006), Iowa (2007), Delaware (2007), California (2008), South Carolina (2008), and New England (2008). Regional NVS preparedness of the Multi-State Partnership for Security in Agriculture and Canada was evaluated in June of 2009 during four concurrent NVS deployments to Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska, and Canada. The first USDA APHIS tabletop exercise between federal, state, and tribal partners on tribal lands will evaluate Arizona and Navajo Nation NVS planning in August 2009.

For more information, visit the APHIS NVS Web site.  

Contact: Dr. Lee M. Myers, 301/910-7336, Lee.M.Myers@aphis.usda.gov, USDA, APHIS, VS, Atlanta, Ga.

This is an excerpt from Equine Disease Quarterly, funded by underwriters at Lloyd's, London, brokers, and their Kentucky agents.

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