University of Illinois Hosts Foot-and-Mouth Disease Exercise

Preparation and coordination are vital to contain any disease outbreak. 

“The more you know, the more control you can have over your own farm’s ability to navigate a potential disease outbreak,” said Yvette Johnson-Walker, DVM, one of four faculty members at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine who are organizing the training, in a campus release.

On September 8 to 11, livestock producers and owners, veterinarians and allied industry representatives are invited to attend an online program that will ready Illinois agriculture to mount a coordinated response in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak. 

“This is a unique opportunity for everyone who would be directly impacted by an outbreak to collaborate on plans for the response,” Johnson-Walker said.

More than 100 participants are expected for the training that will help develop a foreign animal disease outbreak response plan and provide ways for producers to improve on-farm biosecurity. 

The program will meet online from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. CT, Tuesday through Thursday, to work through a realistic scenario depicting an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Illinois, according to a college release.  A one-hour wrap-up session is scheduled for Friday at noon CT. 

Johnson-Walker is a veterinary epidemiologist who has extensive experience in delivering training programs on animal emergency preparedness. She is a co-principal investigator on the current USDA grant with Gay Miller, DVM, who also brings decades of research and leadership focused on foreign animal disease prevention, preparedness, and response. The other leaders are Will Sander, DVM, and Csaba Varga, DVM, experts in public health and interagency coordination and in geographic information systems in relation to disease outbreak and control, respectively.

“We’re seeking broad participation from large and small farms as well as from veterinarians that serve animal producers and those in allied agricultural industries,” she said. “This is your chance to be at the table when protocols are being discussed to help ensure that plans are feasible for implementation by producers.”

Early registration is encouraged as registered participants will begin receiving material to prepare them for the exercise in mid August. The training is free to participants and supported by a USDA grant. 

“Show animals and small ruminants are often part of the family,” Johnson-Walker said, “but they would be subject to disease containment measures put in place for various species. It could be devastating for these families if they were forced to depopulate their herd.

The training will also provide producers and veterinarians with updates on the rapidly changing regulations on FMD and the use of vaccines.

To learn more and register for the free training program, visit

The training is part of the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP), funded through the 2018 Farm Bill. It represents the first of a four-part program designed by experts at the College of Veterinary Medicine to ready individuals across a variety of animal and public health sectors to respond to a foreign animal disease outbreak.

More from Farm Journal's PORK:

Livestock Industry Praises USDA’s First Vaccine Bank Purchase

USDA Seeks Comments on Request to Produce FMD Vaccine on U.S. Mainland

Pigs Can Transmit Foot-and-Mouth Disease Prior to Signs of Infection

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