TALLINN – Tabletop exercises were conducted in three regions of the Estonian Agriculture and Food Board to increase readiness for the control of particularly dangerous animal diseases.
According to Heidi Kaar, crisis manager at the Agriculture and Food Board, the authority's northern, eastern and western region had tabletop exercises regarding disease control from Jan. 26 to Feb. 8. "The aim was to review the roles and responsibilities of the staffs to be set up in the event of an outbreak of a particularly dangerous animal disease, such as African swine fever (ASF), avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease. An additional aim was to plan the necessary resources, their efficient use and prevent the further spread of the disease to other farms," Kaar said.
Two scenarios were prepared for the tabletop exercise. In one scenario, the disease broke out on a production farm with 1,500 dairy cows and in another scenario in a grazing area with beef cattle.
"As a result of the tabletop exercise, the biggest problem today is the eradication of a particularly dangerous animal disease, such as foot-and-mouth disease, on large production farms, where thousands of cattle would have to be killed and destroyed once the disease reaches the farm. Cooperation between different agencies and an understanding of the possible consequences of the spread of diseases is essential to address this situation," Kaar added.
The Agriculture and Food Board regularly organizes various tabletop and field exercises. Given the spread of bird flu and ASF in Europe and foot-and-mouth disease in North Africa today, there is a need to be well prepared to control the diseases and to be aware of the potential dangers and challenges.
Some exercises also involve other agencies and partners, such as the Rescue Board and local governments, to practice and cooperate in a variety of disease control situations.