Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, USDA APHIS Co-Host Workshop to Test the State’s Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccination Strategy

Iowa is the first state to participate in the FMD vaccination strategy exercise with USDA APHIS

DES MOINES, Iowa (Dec. 16, 2020) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship co-hosted a foreign animal disease planning and preparation workshop with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), with support provided by Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health. The two-day tabletop exercise, held Dec. 15-16, brought state and federal animal health officials, Iowa livestock producers and industry representatives together to test the state’s plans to distribute a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine if an outbreak occurs.

FMD is a highly contagious virus that affects animals with cloven hooves, including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. While FMD causes sores and mobility and production challenges in livestock, it does not present public health or food safety concerns; FMD is not the same virus that causes Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in humans.

If an outbreak occurs, there would be a limited supply of FMD vaccines available. The state has drafted vaccination plans to prioritize affected species and classes of animals and to distribute the vaccine to stop the spread of the disease.

During the two-day exercise, representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, USDA, Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health and livestock industry groups discussed the criteria that would trigger an FMD vaccine request, how state and federal animal health officials would obtain and distribute the vaccines, and how vaccinated animals will be tracked through the supply chain.

“Any foreign animal disease outbreak would be emotionally and economically devastating to Iowa’s livestock producers. FMD affects multiple animal species so it has the potential to cause widespread disruptions to the food supply chain,” said Secretary Naig. “This exercise helped us identify the strengths and areas for improvement in our state’s FMD vaccination strategy. Based on what we learned, we’ll refine our plans to more effectively control an outbreak and minimize the impact of FMD on animal health and production, the food supply and the economy.”

Every livestock producer in Iowa should register their livestock facilities with the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Premises Identification Program. State animal health officials will use this information to contact livestock producers if an outbreak occurs.

While there may be an FMD vaccination available to protect some livestock, following biosecurity best practices every day on the farm is a producer’s best line of defense against any foreign animal disease.

Foreign Animal Disease Prevention and Preparation

This FMD vaccination strategy workshop was the latest in a series of actions the Iowa Department of Agriculture has taken to help livestock producers plan and prepare for a potential foreign animal disease outbreak.

In September 2019, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and 14 other swine-producing states participated in a four-day African Swine Fever workshop led by USDA APHIS to test current foreign animal disease response plans. Each day of the exercise focused on different tactics that would be deployed during an outbreak — detection, containment, eradication and cleaning and disinfection. This allowed the USDA, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, state agencies, industry representatives and producers to put response plans into action to make sure they could be executed quickly and effectively.

In May 2020, the Department launched a foreign animal disease program for veterinarians licensed to practice in Iowa. The IowaFADefense program teaches veterinarians how to rapidly detect, respond to and contain foreign animal diseases affecting livestock and poultry. The program also increases the number of veterinarians who are trained and able to assist the Iowa Department of Agriculture and USDA in responding to a foreign animal disease outbreak.

Recently the Department, working in conjunction with Iowa State University, developed a video showing livestock producers how to set up a vehicle cleaning and disinfection corridor to protect their farms, and neighboring farms, during a foreign animal disease outbreak. All vehicles, trucks, trailers and equipment entering or exiting a farm during a foreign animal disease outbreak should be properly cleaned and disinfected to help prevent pathogens from spreading to other locations and livestock.

Earlier this month, the Iowa Department of Agriculture released an online video explaining how veterinarians licensed to practice in Iowa can obtain or renew their USDA Category II accreditation status. If a foreign animal disease outbreak occurs, the Department may call upon private Category II Accredited veterinarians to assist their clients and state and federal animal health officials with the disease response.

To learn more about the state’s foreign animal disease response plans, visit iowaagriculture.gov/animal-industry-bureau/animal-disease-response.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov