Bio-security training held in NW Iowa

More than 200 citizens attended two bio-security training sessions held in northwest Iowa in late March.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa State University Extension jointly offered the training to map out strategies for reacting to possible livestock disease outbreaks, such as bird flu or foot and mouth disease.

Meetings were held in Cherokee and Sheldon to prepare local officials and farmers for responding to an agricultural disaster. County emergency action coordinators, fire, police, public health, supervisors and farmers were among those present.

A mock foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was staged to see how the different agencies would interact. FMD is viewed as the worst-case scenario, according to presenters Dr. Patricia Webb and the DNRís Cathy Lee.

In the event of a serious disease outbreak, state and federal veterinarians would take control with support from the other agencies.

Webb stressed that producers and veterinarians are the first line of defense in the event of any disease outbreak.

Any time a producer doesnít know what caused an animalís death, he should call his local veterinarian for help, Webb said. Early detection is the key to keeping any disease problem contained, she added.

If an outbreak occurs, affected livestock herds would be quarantined to control spread of the disease.

Lee explained the stateís plan on where animals could be buried in each county in the event of a major disease outbreak. Maps of the sites will be available on the internet this summer, she said.

Additional information on how producers can guard against disease outbreaks for all types of livestock is available at local Extension offices.

Posted 4/5/2004