Foreign Animal Disease outbreak exercise held

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Animal Industry Services Division helped the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management host a USDA Agriculture Response Management and Resources Tabletop Exercise earlier this week. The purpose of the exercise was to bring organizations together to discuss effective communication, policies and procedures in case of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the future.

The exercise focused on foot-and-mouth disease preparation. A scenario was given, and those attending worked together to develop strategies to combat the hypothetical outbreak.

According to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, FMD is a highly-contagious viral disease that causes illness in cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other mammals with divided hooves. It does not infect horses, dogs or cats.

From a human health perspective, it is not a safety or food threat and is unrelated to hand, foot and mouth disease. Meat and milk from infected animals are safe to consume.

Symptoms in animals include blisters of the mouth, mammary glands and hooves as well as fever and abortions. Because the blisters, called vesicles, pop and become erosions, this leads to depression, anorexia, excessive salivation and lameness. Although animals typically do not die from FMD, they are left weak and unproductive for several weeks to months and some may never return to full production.

An FMD outbreak would drastically impact agriculture and trade, as the disease spreads quickly through contaminated facilities, vehicles, hay, feed, water or equipment. It can also spread through insemination from an infected animal. FMD has not been present in the U.S. since 1929.

Industry leaders, veterinarians, emergency management groups, law enforcement, communications professionals, extension services and many others attended the event. Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese and the State Board of Agriculture also visited the event. The exercise was part of a nationwide program involving 12 states, in which some states exercised for three days functionally while others exercised in non-functional scenarios for one or two days.

“We had excellent participation from the other agencies in the state during this exercise,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall. “They asked great questions, made great comments and made us aware of areas they could assist ODAFF in the case of an FMD outbreak. I sincerely appreciate everyone who participated.”

For more information about FMD, visit