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NZ In Australian Foot & Mouth Disease Simulation

4 September 02

New Zealand To Participate In Australian Foot And Mouth Disease Simulation

New Zealand will observe how Australia would cope in the face of a foot and mouth disease outbreak during a simulation exercise to be held in Australia from 9 to13 September.

Derek Belton, Director Animal Biosecurity at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), along with other international observers, will witness the full-scale exotic disease response scenario - code named Exercise Minotaur.

Mr Belton said it will be valuable to see the response capacity and coordination required for the hypothetical foot and mouth disease outbreak spanning three territories and 1000 people from both government and industry organisations.

"It is always important to test the capability of any system particularly when considering the potential economic and social impacts of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease," he said.

Mr Belton said New Zealand's own animal disease response programme is geared to react promptly should an outbreak of an exotic animal disease occur. Systems in place include a 24-hour exotic pest and disease toll-free hotline as well as a comprehensive and carefully regulated system of agreed import health standards and border controls.

"At the first report of a possible foot and mouth outbreak we would have a disease response manager responding within 15 minutes and a report back within five to six hours.

"If the disease was confirmed, an immediate national livestock standstill would be put in place, all susceptible stock on infected farms would be slaughtered and intensive tracing and investigation of movements of livestock, stock trucks, and anything else that had come into contact with the site of infection would be initiated," he said.

Earlier this year officials from MAF, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Reserve Bank, Police and industry representatives, took part in a desktop exercise to evaluate the impact of an outbreak of foot and mouth in New Zealand and the resources required to manage the disease.

Calculations based on a relatively small outbreak of 50 farms, indicated that losses to the dairy and meat industries alone would total more than $5 billion dollars. This does not include the added cost of the impact on tourism.

Mr Belton said such exercises are an integral part of New Zealand's preparation for managing an outbreak of an exotic animal disease. In November 2002 MAF is planning an exercise based around a scenario involving an outbreak of Anthrax in Waikato farms.

For further information contact:

MAF Communications Adviser

Philippa White

04 498 9948 or 025 2231875

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