By Justin Walker
North American animal health officials met recently to discuss preventative measures concerning African swine fever (ASF).
The meeting between the chief veterinary officers (CVOs) from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. took place at the 18th annual North American Animal Health Committee (NAAHC). The group discussed joint activities among the three countries relating to animal health, including ASF.
The CVOs include Dr. Burke Healey from the U.S., Dr. Jaspinder Komal from Canada and Dr. Juan Gay Gutierrez from Mexico.
“The NAAHC meets annually to review and plan our countries’ coordinated activities around animal health, which includes our prevention and preparedness efforts for animal health diseases such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease,” the CVOs said in a statement. “This year, we dedicated a special session to discussing African swine fever, the actions we are taking to prevent its spread to North America and how to minimize the impact of this disease should it be introduced into the region.”
ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease that affects both domestic and wild pigs of all ages.
After talks between the CVOs concluded, a new North American-specific ASF strategy was formed at the meeting.
“The strategy will help guide ASF-related coordination and cooperation between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. in our communications, prevention, preparedness and response activities,” the CVOs said.
Discussions on keeping North America free of ASF included the following topics:
- comprehensive disease surveillance
- surge capacity aimed at helping to ensure labs and people are ready to respond (for example, laboratories of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. 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 strategy calls for a North American ASF working group to be formed, which will include government and industry representatives from the three countries.
“ASF international collaboration is accelerating as we take these steps in prevention, preparedness and response,” the CVOs said. “The three partners look forward to participating in upcoming international meetings and in forging regional and sub-regional partnerships aimed at leading the effort to keep North American ASF-free.”
Mexico will host a North American ASF Forum in Riviera Nayarit Oct. 22-23. The forum will be used to strengthen ASF prevention activities.