Biodefense Summit on Implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy

On April 17, 2019, national leaders on biodefense will be gathering at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC for the Biodefense Summit on Implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy.  The National Biodefense Strategy, released on September 18, 2018, sets the course for the United States to combat the serious biothreats our country faces, whether they arise from natural outbreaks of disease, accidents involving high consequence pathogens, or the actions of terrorists or state actors.

The purpose of the summit is to engage stakeholders to:

·       Raise awareness of the National Biodefense Strategy

·       Gain greater awareness of biodefense activities conducted by non-Federal partners in the broader biodefense enterprise, including relevant private sector stakeholders

·       Increase coordination with non-Federal partners, including international organizations

·       Identify significant challenges related to implementation of the strategy

·       Identify opportunities for improvement in biodefense and high priority actions necessary to implement the strategy

·       Inform United States Government actions to advance biodefense

The National Biodefense Strategy includes five goals for strengthening our National biodefense.  I will have the honor of chairing the discussion of Goal #5: Facilitating recovery to restore the community, the economy, and the environment after a bioincident.  I hope you will be able to join us for this important discussion! 

More information is available at:  https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/biodefense-strategy/Pages/about-summit.aspx

2nd Biorisk Management Symposium of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Network

I was pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in BIORIM 2019 this week in Tunis, Tunisia.  BIORIM 2019 was the 2nd Biorisk Management Symposium of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Regional Network.  The symposium aimed to strengthen and enhance biorisk management in the region through two days of interactive workshops and two days of technical presentations.  I conducted a 2-day workshop on agroterrorism and zoonotic disease response.  I truly appreciated the interest and engagement of the participants. 

Technical presentations during the symposium included my presentation on animal mortality management as well as many fascinating talks on biosecurity challenges, bioterrorism, OIE activities in the region, improving food security, assessing bio-threats and many other important topics.  It was a great opportunity to network with leaders in biosecurity and biosafety throughout the Middle East and Africa.  More information is available at:  http://atb2e.tn/biorim-2019/

I also enjoyed visiting some of the beautiful sites in and around Tunis with an old friend.  All the makings of a great week!

Avian Influenza Training and Response Planning in the Dominican Republic

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Like India, Nigeria, South Africa, and Russia, the Dominican Republic is experiencing another outbreak of avian influenza.  Fortunately, unlike the other countries, the Dominican Republic is battling a low pathogenic strain of the virus.

I am pleased to be in the Dominican Republic this week supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and the Dominican poultry industry in their response to this outbreak.  We started the week with a demonstration of how composing can be implemented as part of a disease management strategy to safely dispose of infected carcasses and manure.  It was great to have an engaged audience of poultry industry veterinarians from several different poultry companies.

African Swine Fever Depopulation, Disposal and Disinfection (3D) Workshop in Lviv, Ukraine

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Last week I had the great privilege of participating in a workshop to discuss Depopulation, Disposal, and Disinfection (3D) activities needed to respond to outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Ukraine and its border-neighbors including Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Belarus and Poland.  The workshop was held in Lviv, Ukraine. ASF is a devastating and frequently fatal disease of swine for which currently there is no effective treatment or vaccine.  ASF continues to severely affect farmers, the swine industry, and the regional economies of many countries, including those of Eastern European countries.    The workshop was a collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Government of Ukraine, and regional stakeholders including private sector agri-business partners.

The workshop agenda included:

  • Animal Disease Outbreak Response Challenges from Country Perspectives;
  • Global Perspectives: Economics, One Health, and Regional Considerations;
  • Depopulation Considerations;
  • Cleaning and Disinfection;
  • Carcass Management Options and Strategies;
  • Carcass Management Implementation; and
  • Roundtable discussion followed by a summary and next steps.

It was great to work Dr. Daniel Beltran Alcrudo with FAO, Dr. Jimmy Tickel with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases and Ms. Lori Miller with USDA, APHIS.  However, the greatest value came from the opportunity to hear directly from industry and government officials in the region working to control ASF in their countries.

Do you have successful practice that you have used to control, eradicate or prevent ASF?  I love to hear from you!

National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Foreign Animal Disease Threats (FADT)

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On Monday I had the great honor of presenting to the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Foreign Animal Disease Threats (FADT).  The meeting was held in Washington, D.C. at the White House Conference Center.

For those of you who don’t know (and this included me until I was ask to participate), the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is the principal means by which the Executive Branch coordinates science and technology policy across the diverse entities that make up the federal research and development (R&D) enterprise.  The FADT addresses both immediate and long-term action items related to foreign animal disease threats including data needs and coordination of modeling efforts; requirements and priorities for basic research and development; requirements and priorities for diagnostics and medical countermeasures; and requirements for decontamination, depopulation, and waste management techniques.

I gave a presentation on innovative methods of composting livestock contaminated with foreign animal diseases.  My presentation covered several topics:  composting methods used during the 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in the United States, the national standard operating procedures (SOPs) developed for HPAI and livestock diseases, the adaptation of those SOPS for use internationally like the LPAI response in the Dominican Republic earlier this year and the use of Above Ground Burial as a carcass management method.  If there is interest, I would be happy to share additional details on any of these topics.

6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management

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The 6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management was held in Amarillo, Texas from June 3 – 7, 2018.  This triennial symposium was established in 2005 as an opportunity for researchers and policy makers to learn about the latest research, educational programs, and technologies available for animal mortality management.  This, like previous symposia, was an ambitious undertaking.  It included oral presentations, poster sessions, exhibits, tours of Texas’ huge animal industry, practical demonstrations, an emergency exercise, and an international panel.  Several regular participants mentioned that this event had been the best symposium yet.

Visiting a Texas Beef Packing Plant

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Many thanks to my co-chair, Mark King, and the other great Steering Committee members who made this and previous events possible:  Bob DeOtte, Mark Hutchinson, Mike Mayes, Dale Rozeboom, Megghan Honke, Jean Bonhotal, Josh Payne, Lori Miller, and Edward Malek.  Special thanks to Bob DeOtte, our local Steering Committee member, who was involved in nearly every aspect of the Symposium and is responsible, to a great extent, for its success. I am also grateful to West Texas A&M University and the efforts of their incredible faculty and staff.

Dr. Bob DeOtte receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award

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During the Symposium I had the opportunity to deliver 3 presentations:  In-House Composting Field Exercises for Broiler BreedersAdapting U.S. Composting Protocols for Use Internationally; and Recent Demonstration Projects and the Field Application of Above Ground Burial for Carcass Disposal and host the International Panel: Global Issues in Animal Mortality Management.

Above Ground Burial Demo Site with 3D Model Designed by Ava Grace Flory

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White papers and slides from these and other presentations will be available shortly at: http://animalmortmgmt.org/

Even as we complete wrap up activities for the 6th, planning for the 7th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management are beginning.  I hope to see you there!

2nd International Conference on Bioresources, Energy, Environment, and Materials Technology (BEEM2018)

 

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I’ve just returned from 3 weeks of nearly continuous travel and am finally able to reflect on my experiences.  The first week of June I traveled to Amarillo, Texas for the 6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality.  I spent the second week of June in South Korea for the 2nd International Conference on Bioresources, Energy, Environment, and Materials Technology and last week I traveled to Newark, Delaware for the Emergency Poultry Disease Response Certificate Symposium.

My trip to South Korea was my first to the country and a tremendous experience.    The 2nd International Conference on Bioresources, Energy, Environment, and Materials Technology (BEEM 2018) was held in beautiful Gangwon Province, Korea.  Over 600 delegates from 35 countries attended BEEM 2018 discuss a wide range of scientific topics.

I attended as an invited speaker and a member of the International Organizing Committee.  In addition to the general sessions, the conference also hosted a number of focused special symposia.  I participated in 2 of these symposia:  Best Management Strategy for Environmental Management of Carcass Burial Sites and Biosolids Land Application Risk Assessment – Evaluation of (In)organic Compounds.  During these symposia I delivered two presentations: Evolution of Composting from a Novelty to a Leading Carcass Disposal Method and the Role of Aboveground Burial during Future Animal Disease Outbreaks and Virginia’s Biosolids Land Application Program: Regulating the Land Application of Biosolids to Protect Citizens and the Environment.

Committee Members and Invited Speakers

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In additional to the knowledge gained and shared, I made some wonderful contacts, enjoyed the beauty of the region and was amazed by the unparalleled hospitality of my Korean hosts.  Many thanks to Professor Geon-Ha Kim and Professor John Kye-Hoon Kim.

On June 14th I conducted a seminar for the leadership of the Korean National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER). NIER is responsible for a broad range of environmental research including addressing environmental issues resulting from the disposal of animal mortality from disease outbreaks like Foot and Mouth Disease and Avian Influenza.  We had a great discussion!

I am looking forward to future collaboration with my new colleagues in Korea and elsewhere in the region.

Next up:  6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management

Operationalizing the One Health through the Global Health Security Agenda

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The threat of infectious diseases like avian influenza, ebola and swine flu continue to increase.  To respond to and prevent these threats we must increase coordination between human and animal health practitioners.  One effort towards a coordinated global response is the Global Health Security Initiative.

Lean more about this initiative in the May 2018 edition of the journal Chemical, Biological, & Nuclear Warfare.  My article, One World, One Health, explores the initiative and how it is increasing our global preparedness for these disease threats.

Check out the full May 2018 edition at Chemical, Biological, & Nuclear Warfare or just my article, One World, One Health

Registration is open for the 6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management

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I spent several days last week in beautiful Amarillo, Texas preparing for the Symposium.  In addition to scoping out the Symposium venue, restaurants and tour sites, my colleagues and I helped set up the composting demos.  More on that to come.  I am looking forward to seeing everybody in Amarillo!  Register soon and start your travel plans.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

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Catastrophic losses of poultry and livestock caused by disease, fire, or weather-related stresses, and routine losses associated with large-scale production operations, have become significant environmental, bio-security, and waste management concerns around the globe. The Symposium will highlight new research, current and emerging disposal methodologies, and critical assessments of public policy, with the intent to capture and disseminate new information on these topics, and to stimulate development of additional research, policy development, and educational programs.

Active learning will be achieved through an Emergency Exercise – “Operation Goliath” which will focus on a “Severe Weather Occurrence” and its impact on livestock. This exercise will include breakout sessions and active participation in facilitated scenario discussions on the capabilities of public and private sector participants to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a major incident involving livestock mortality and business continuity and economic effects from a local, regional, and international perspective.

Participants will also have a chance to tour a variety of farms and businesses involved in Texas’s beef, dairy and swine industries. Tour topics may include:  biosecurity and animal movement protocols, various disposal methods, decontamination, depopulation and the progressive agriculture and processing of West Texas. All tours will leave from the hotel and will end at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the second largest canyon in the country and located in the Texas Panhandle. Attendees will enjoy Texas barbeque while having the opportunity to network and review your experiences from each of the tours.

Symposium attendees will be exposed to numerous exhibits and demonstrations focusing on aspects of animal disease mortality management.  Highlights include:  above ground burial, traditional deep pit burial, static and aerated pile composting, drone compost pile monitoring, foam euthanasia, alkaline hydrolysis along with other “static” displays.  The demonstration site will also feature an “Ask the Experts Tent”—where participants will have a chance to interact with 8 industry experts specializing in all aspects of mortality management.

With an international panel, keynote speaker and presenters, the Symposium will explore challenges, solutions and insights on animal mortality management from around the globe.

The Symposium is an excellent opportunity for veterinarians, environmental professionals, academic researchers, extension educators, students, food and agriculture emergency managers, public health managers, food animal processors, composters and renderers to lean about the latest research, educational programs, and technologies.

Online registration is now open at animalmortmgmt.org for the 6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management. The conference, held June 3-7, 2016, will take place at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Amarillo, Texas. The Symposium is being hosted by the West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, and USDA Agricultural Research Service – Bushland, and has been produced in collaboration with worldwide academia, industry and government partners.

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Emergency Poultry Disease Response (EPDR) Certificate Course

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I am thrilled to be participating in the 10th annual Emergency Poultry Disease Response and Certificate Course held at the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Newark, Delaware.  The course combines science, policy, and hands on experience in the key areas involved in emergency response for animal agriculture.  I am honored to be one of a diverse and varied group of faculty and professionals, from universities, regional departments of agriculture, the poultry industry and USDA delivering the class content.

Dates: Monday, June 18 to Friday, June 22, 2018

Program Description

The University of Delaware Emergency Poultry Disease Response Certificate Course:

1. Teaches U.S. and international professionals about preparedness planning, biosecurity and assessment tools, and rapid response techniques and technology – the three critical aspects of successfully managing an outbreak of potentially catastrophic poultry disease.

2. Gives participants the opportunity to engage with fellow poultry veterinarians and agricultural professionals from around the U.S. and the world.

3. Provides participants the opportunity to learn Continuing Education (CE) credits for license renewal purposes.

The EPDR training program is an intensive 5-day program, taught in English, for 16 to 22 participants held at the UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Newark, Delaware.

Using a mixture of seminar, discussions, and hands-on technology demonstrations, the Certificate program’s instructors will cover: understanding the influenza virus, surveillance, biosecurity, outbreak response and control, incident command structures, protecting the responder, depopulation, disposal, composting, and decontamination. The training program presents and utilizes the “Delaware model,” which emphasizes close cooperation between government, industry and educational institutions to manage avian influenza outbreaks utilizing best management practices and technologies related to controlling outbreaks of avian influenza and other catastrophic disease outbreaks.

Upon successful completion of the Certificate program participants will receive a Certificate in Emergency Poultry Disease Response from the University of Delaware and earn continuing education units (CEU) necessary for professional re-certification requirements, such as veterinary or veterinary technician continuing education: 3.2 CEUs (32 training hours).

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