In fiscal year 2019, the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) National Training and Exercise Program (NTEP) sponsored a series of four exercises for the top 14 swine producing states (Figure 1) to further their capacity to effectively respond to and mitigate an outbreak of ASF. SES, as the administrative and technical consultant to the VS NTEP, supported the design and conduct of these exercises.
The first three exercises in this series were completed between November 2018 and May 2019: ASF Response Policy Workshop, November 2018; ASF Plan Review and Revision Workshop, February 2019; and an ASF Response Tabletop Exercise (TTX), April 2019. These three exercises set the stage for the fourth exercise activity, a series of functional exercises and drills conducted on September 23, 24, 25, and 26, 2019. This exercise series was named Swine Fever Exercises for Agriculture Response (SFEAR).
The four days of SFEAR exercises in September addressed the following aspects of response and mitigation:
- Day 1, September 23 – Conducting a Foreign Animal Disease Investigation (FADI) and subsequent coordination and engagement of the National Veterinary Services Laboratory’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NVSL FADDL) and the appropriate laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).
- Day 2, September 24 – Responding to and supporting a state, regional, or national movement standstill.
- Day 3, September 25 – Implementing the planning and resource coordination associated with depopulating and disposing of infected and exposed swine.
- Day 4, September 26 – Implementing a system to allow continuity of business for non-infected operations within a Control Area.