The UK and the New South Wales government in Australia is this week collaborate on a joint, simulated exercise to practice biosecurity measures in the event of an African swine fever outbreak.
The joint exercise involving Defra, the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in New South Wales is taking place over three days and will strengthen the two nations’ joint control strategies for the disease.
There has never been an outbreak of ASF in the UK and there are robust measures in place to protect against it, including joint operations with Border Force and a policy to seize and destroy all illegal imports of meat and meat products.
However, ASF is a major risk to the pig industries of both Australia and the UK due to trade links with and proximity to affected regions in Asia and Europe.
In the event of an outbreak, disease control measures will mean the governments will put in place movement controls for all pig-related businesses, potentially including feed delivery, slaughter houses, pig breeding units or movement of animals to sales.
The focus of the exercise will be to assess how the movement restrictions would be applied in practice to best manage an ASF outbreak.
Christine Middlemiss, the Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “While there has never been an outbreak of African swine fever in the UK, we are in no way complacent and have robust measures in place to protect against it.
“The UK has strong links with Australia and scientific cooperation is one of them so I welcome this initiative to share information and experience, helping us to maintain our high biosecurity standards.”
The simulated exercise will conclude on Friday, with experts in risk assessment, epidemiology, science and disease control policy from Australia and the UK collaborating to form plans for African swine fever control.