By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
The United States, Canada and Mexico have formed the foundation for a new North American-specific strategy on African Swine Fever (ASF), announced the chief veterinary officers for the three nations following the 18th North American Animal Health Committee Meeting.
“Recent events demonstrate that ASF is an international disease that knows no borders and can move rapidly from one country to the next,” said U.S. Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr. Burke Healey, Canada’s CVO Dr. Jaspinder Komal, and Mexico’s CVO Dr. Juan Gay Gutierrez, in an Aug. 27 statement. “As such, it requires a coordinated, international response to ensure our collective readiness for ASF.”
The meeting included a special session on ASF, including the actions being taken to prevent its spread to North America and how to minimize the impact of the disease should it be introduced on the continent. The new strategy founded during the meeting “will help guide ASF-related coordination and cooperation between Canada, Mexico and the United States in our communications, prevention, preparedness and response activities.”
Key areas discussed at the session include:
- comprehensive disease surveillance
- surge capacity aimed at helping to ensure 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 CVOs said they next will form a North American ASF working group, comprised of government and industry representatives from each country. They also noted the Mexican delegation will host a North American ASF Forum in Mexico on Oct. 22-23.