The Kansas Department of Agriculture was one of 15 states participating in a functional exercise the week of Sept. 23-26 focused on the states’ plans for responding to African swine fever (ASF).

The functional exercise, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tested participants’ abilities to respond to a simulated animal disease outbreak.

African swine fever is a highly contagious virus that affects pigs, causing high fever, loss of appetite and vomiting, and usually resulting in death.

Other livestock species are not susceptible to the disease, and there are no human health risks. An outbreak in the U.S. would, however, have the potential to cause enormous economic losses not only to pork producers but to the entire production chain.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture conducts an annual exercise to practice the state’s response plan to foreign animal disease, typically with a simulation of foot-and-mouth disease. This month’s multistate exercise was focused instead on African swine fever, which has been confirmed in China and several other countries in eastern Asia, but has not occurred in the U.S.

Members of the state Division of Animal Health have been actively working with federal partners, state agencies of neighboring states, and representatives from the pork industry to enhance the state’s response plan with specific focus on African swine fever.

The four-day functional exercise, which was be based out of ag department headquarters in Manhattan, allowed the ag department and other state agencies, federal and local government, industry, university and 14 other states to practice their response plan.

It aimed to simulate a real-world response as much as possible, including actual veterinarian testing and laboratory results, along with planning and resource coordination, disease mitigation, public educational information, and permitted movement to allow continuity of business for non-infected operations.

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