MANHATTAN – The Kansas Department of Agriculture will lead an emergency preparedness exercise, Afterburn, Dec. 19–22, in Manhattan, to practice the state’s response plan to a foreign animal disease event.
The four-day functional exercise, which will be based out of KDA headquarters in Manhattan, will enable KDA and its partners in other state agencies, federal and local government, industry, university and six other states to practice the state’s foreign animal disease response plan. More than 200 individuals will participate in the Afterburn exercise, which will be based on the confirmation of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States.
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey said KDA is committed to protecting animal health to the best of its ability and notes that regularly exercising emergency response plans benefits not only KDA but all partners to understand roles and responsibilities in a response, and to identify potential gaps in the plans.
“Agriculture is the largest industry and economic driver in Kansas. Responding to a foreign animal disease like FMD will require cooperation among state, local and federal government, private industry, universities and more to stop the spread of the disease and enable the industry to get back to business as quickly as possible,” said Secretary McClaskey. “We are grateful to have so many partners join us for this exercise and all efforts to serve and protect Kansas agriculture.”
In 2012, the KDA Division of Animal Health developed a five-year strategic plan designed to improve its ability to respond to animal disease emergencies. Last year’s Invisible Fire exercise was KDA’s first four-day interactive exercise, and as a result KDA determined that larger, more complex exercises result in significant improvement in the animal disease response plan, so the agency plans to hold multi-day exercises at least on a biennial basis. The 2016 Afterburn exercise will build upon plans and procedures that have been developed and revised since previous exercises and actual emergency events.
In addition to KDA, which will operate as the Incident Command Post for the exercise, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Haskell, Sherman and Thomas counties will activate emergency operations centers as part of the Afterburn exercise.
Foot-and-mouth disease was last identified in the United States in 1929. FMD is a highly contagious disease of cattle, sheep, swine, goats, deer and other cloven-hooved animals. It is not a human food safety concern nor a public health threat. It is a primary concern for animal health officials because it could have potentially devastating economic consequences due to disrupted trade and lost investor confidence.
The exercise has been funded with a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Media wishing to monitor the exercise should contact KDA director of communications Heather Lansdowne at Heather.Lansdowne@ks.gov or (785) 564-6706 for more information.