To improve Illinois' preparedness for a foreign animal disease outbreak, the Illinois Department of Agriculture is offering the state's veterinarians a full day of emergency response training.
The Nov. 7 workshop is part of IDOA's Illinois Veterinary Emergency Response Team initiative, an effort to establish a unified and comprehensive response to animal health emergencies.
"In the case of a foreign animal disease outbreak, these men and women would be our first line of defense," says IDOA director Tom Jennings. "It is imperative that they are trained to categorize foreign animal diseases and act appropriately to help contain them. Their quick response could be the difference between a small, localized outbreak and widespread devastation."
More than 100 Illinois veterinarians will attend the Nov. 7 seminar at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard. These vets have also volunteered to help in the event of an animal health emergency.
"The workshop will include an overview of IDOA emergency plans and procedures for foreign animal disease response as well as the specific roles and responsibilities of an IVERT participant," says state veterinarian Mark Ernst. "Because of the recent flooding in the Midwest, this year's conference also will address the PETS Act and the handling of household pets and service animals during large scale disaster evacuations."
IVERT is one in a series of safety measures IDOA has undertaken to protect animal health and improve emergency preparedness. Other measures include:
- Establishing an online premises identification registry to identify every farm, feedlot, sale barn and slaughter facility in the state that handles food animals. The registry is the first step toward implantation of a national animal identification system that will enable livestock and poultry to be rapidly traced in an emergency animal disease event.
- Requiring a permit for all livestock imported into the state for production or exhibition.
- Funding the development of a Geographic Information System to track agricultural assets such as farms, grain elevators and food processing plants.
- Organizing meetings with neighboring states to develop regional communications plans and guidelines for tracing and controlling the movement of livestock in an emergency.