Exercise Phantom Fox, which runs from 14-18 May at the Wayville Showgrounds, will involve approximately 150 people from across Australia.
South Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rob Rahaley, said major training exercises such as Phantom Fox were essential in preparing government and industry personnel for a real emergency animal disease outbreak.
“Exercise Phantom Fox will involve a hypothetical scenario of an outbreak of bluetongue virus (BTV) in sheep north of Adelaide. BTV is not currently found in South Australia,” Dr Rahaley said.
“Bluetongue causes disease mostly in sheep; however other species – such as goats, cattle, buffalo, camels, llamas and deer – can be infected. Bluetongue disease has never been reported in commercial livestock in Australia, although some bluetongue viruses do occur in the northern and tropical areas of the country. In recent years, a strain of BTV has caused significant cattle losses in Europe. Bluetongue poses no threat to humans.
“If this virus was detected here, Biosecurity SA would immediately swing into action with an emergency disease response involving government staff from across Australia working in State Control and Local Control Centres.
“This exercise will involve operation of both control centres, with other biosecurity staff working behind the scenes to ensure the abilities of those taking part are fully put to the test.
“During the exercise, participants will be provided with a developing scenario and will complete a range of tasks in response to the hypothetical situation. It’s a desktop exercise only and will not involve field visits.
“Exercise Phantom Fox will give Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) the opportunity to practise arrangements for implementing an emergency animal disease response plan in South Australia; something our farmers, industry and trade partners expect of us. It will also provide an opportunity for the SA team to work collaboratively with interstate colleagues and industry representatives.”
“This is about testing our response procedures, ensuring we know what to do if we had a real emergency animal disease outbreak, and maintaining these skills into the future.
“Our farmers rely on our world class biosecurity reputation to be able to produce clean and green food for the world.”
Exercise Phantom Fox is a joint undertaking by Biosecurity SA (a division of PIRSA) and Animal Health Australia. About half of the participants will be from PIRSA, with some personnel from other SA government agencies, and the balance from all other Australian jurisdictions through the national Rapid Response Team (RRT) and industry representatives.
The RRT was set up almost 10 years ago to ensure that a permanent core of personnel was trained in emergency animal disease response, and became accustomed to working together. Annual RRT training is hosted on rotation between the states and territories.
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