Kansas State Tapped To Work On Animal Disease Outbreak Plan | KCUR

Kansas State Tapped To Work On Animal Disease Outbreak Plan

Sep 1, 2015

In a scene reminiscent of the movie 'Outbreak,' workers in Tyvek protective suits removed dead birds from the barns at Sunrise Farms, in Harris, Iowa, on May 11.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Adding extra preparations following the disastrous bird flu outbreak this year, federal authorities have tapped Kansas State University to share its course on responding to agricultural emergencies.

K-State's National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC, is helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide training to first responders, according to a release from K-State.

Federal officials -- specifically the USDA -- were criticized for a slow and chaotic response to this year's outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu, which decimated the egg-laying and turkey industry in the Midwest.

The training will be included in the catalog of FEMA's National Training and Education Division, said Marvin Meinders with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Health Affairs. It's crucial to have a collaborative operating plan for local, state and federal responders, he said.

"It's important for the local responder to be well trained since they are our nation's first line of defense against a foreign animal disease," he said.

The new program is different because it addresses the needs of not only animal disease experts, but others required to take a role in a foreign animal disease event.

During this year's bird flu outbreak, law enforcement was needed to enforce quarantine zones, transportation agencies to move huge numbers of carcasses, and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that carcass disposal did not contaminate ground water.