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FMD National Contingency Plans:

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Introduction and General Information

All countries which do not have endemic Foot-and-Mouth Disease should have National Contingency Plans in place for FMD outbreaks.

National Contingency Plans are an essential element of being ready for an outbreak. They must be well prepared and rehearsed, particularly for FMD-free countries, some of which may not have had experience of the disease in living memory.

The Report of The Royal Society following the 2001 FMD outbreak in the UK noted that "Better contingency planning is vital." (Book Ref. B495 - Infectious Diseases in Livestock [Royal Society Inquiry Report] - Full text included

The key points for National Contingency Plans are as follows:

  • Prepare the Plans in detail.
  • Make sure the Plans take into account the possibility of a very large outbreak, beyond even expected worse-case scenarios.
  • Ensure that all those who are essential to any response (government departments, military bodies, external laboratories etc.) are involved with the planning process and that they understand and agree to their roles in an outbreak, including prioritisation and if necessary reassignment of resources.
  • Ensure that diagnostic facilities are available with the capacity to cope with a large outbreak.
  • Ensure that the personnel requirements have been fully considered, including early appointment of appropriate personnel for operational management during a crisis, and how personnel numbers and expertise can be expanded rapidly during a crisis.
  • Prepare scenarios for different types of husbandry and especially for highly populated areas/farms.
  • Validate the scenarios by regular simulation exercises and adapt the Plans in the light of the results.
  • Prepare for emergency vaccination, including detailed plans for vaccination of different regions of a country, different vaccination strategies and prioritisation of a vaccination programme.
  • Ensure that a source of vaccine is permanently available (vaccine/antigen bank).
  • Use modelling to test scenarios involving different strains of FMDV, distribution of susceptible animals, and transmission modes, to help predict both surveillance and vaccination needs.
  • Update plans as circumstances change; as new information on management procedures, tests, vaccines and circulating virus strains becomes available; and in accordance with changes in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines (W31.Sept07.w4). 
  • Ensure that stakeholders have a chance to scrutinise the plans, and that they are accepted by the stakeholders. 
  • Ensure that the plans specify measures for monitoring progress and reporting to key stakeholders during an epidemic.
  • At regional level [region within a country], "should include mechanisms for making effective use of local voluntary resources".

(B494.4.w4 - full text provided, B494.6.w6 - full text provided, B495.9.w9 - full text provided, J70.17.w1, J112.25.w3, J249.91.w2, W18.Apl01.sib1, W19.Sept07.w1)

  • Note: Contingency planning should include provision for emergency vaccination, considering when, where and how it is to be used, and the economic consequences associated with its use. Plans must be sufficiently detailed to ensure that the following are covered: (J112.25.w3)
    • Legal and financial aspects; 
    • Contractural supply agreements; 
    • The species, number and location of susceptible livestock (this information must be kept up-to-date);
    • Predicted number of emergency vaccine doses which might be required in different scenarios.
    • Formation and training of vaccination teams; 
    • Establishment and maintenance of the vaccine cold chain; 
    • The presence and state of readiness of vaccination equipment; 
    • The availability of briefing materials so that stakeholders can be properly informed about emergency vaccination.


Published Guidelines linked in Wildpro

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National Contingency Planning requirements for countries within the European Union

Foot-and-Mouth Disease is notifiable within the European Union. Member states are required under European Law to have in place National Contingency Plans for dealing with Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks as specified in Council Directive 2003/85/EC (29th September 2003) (W19.Sept07.w1):
Article 72 - Contingency plans
1. Member States shall draw up a contingency plan specifying the national measures required to maintain a high level of foot-and-mouth disease awareness and preparedness, and environmental protection and to be implemented in the event of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

2. The contingency plan shall provide for the access to all facilities, equipment, personnel and other appropriate materials necessary for the rapid and efficient eradication of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, it shall ensure coordination with neighbouring Member States and encourage cooperation with neighbouring third countries.

3. The contingency plan shall provide for measures to be implemented in the event of a worst case scenario as referred to in point 12 of Annex XVII and shall give indications of:
(a) the vaccine requirements considered necessary in the event of emergency vaccination, and
(b) the regions containing densely populated livestock areas, taking into account the criteria set down in Annex X.

4. The contingency plan shall ensure that all necessary arrangements are made to prevent any avoidable damage to the environment in the event of an outbreak, while ensuring at the same time the highest disease control level, and minimise any damage caused as a result of an outbreak, in particular if it is necessary to bury or burn the carcasses of dead or killed animals on site.

5. The criteria and requirements for drawing up the contingency plan shall be those set out in Annex XVII. Those criteria and requirements may be amended taking into account the specific nature of foot-and-mouth disease and progress made in the development of disease control and environmental protection measures in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 89(2).

6. The Commission shall examine the contingency plans in order to determine whether they permit the objective provided for in paragraph 1 to be attained and shall suggest to the Member State concerned any amendments required, in particular to ensure that such plans are compatible with those of the other Member States.

7. The contingency plans shall be approved in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 89(2).

8. Member States shall ensure that significant modifications in their approved contingency plans are notified to the Commission without delay.

9. The revised contingency plans may subsequently be approved in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 89(2), to take into account developments in the situation.

10. In any case, every five years each Member State shall update its contingency plan in particular in the light of realtime alert exercises referred to in Article 73, and submit it to the Commission for approval in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 89(2).


Article 73 - Real-time alert exercises
1. Member States shall ensure that real-time alert exercises are carried out in accordance with their approved contingency plan and Annex XVII.

2. Member States shall ensure that, where possible and practical, real-time alert exercises are carried out in close collaboration with the competent authorities of neighbouring Member States or third countries.

3. Member States shall inform the Commission about the main results of real-time alert exercises. That information shall be submitted to the Commission as part of the information required in Article 8 of Directive 64/432/EEC.



Member States shall ensure that contingency plans meet at least the following requirements:

1. Provision shall be made to ensure the legal powers necessary for the implementation of contingency plans and allow for a rapid and successful eradication campaign.

2. Provision must be made to ensure access to emergency funds, budgetary means and financial resources in order to cover all aspects of the fight against a foot-and-mouth disease epizootic.

3. A chain of command shall be established guaranteeing a rapid and effective decision-making process for dealing with foot-and-mouth disease epizootics. A central decision-making unit shall be in charge of the overall direction of control strategies and the chief veterinary officer shall be a member of this unit.

4. Each Member State must be prepared to immediately establish a functional national disease control centre in the event of an outbreak, which shall coordinate the implementation of all decisions taken in the central decision-making unit. A permanently operational coordinator shall be appointed to guarantee the prompt establishment of the centre.

5. Detailed plans shall be available to enable a Member State to be prepared for the immediate establishment of local disease control centres in the event of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in order to implement disease control and environment protection measures at a local level.

6. Member States shall ensure the cooperation between the national disease control centre, the local disease control centres and environmental competent authorities and bodies in order to ensure that actions on veterinary and environmental safety issues are appropriately coordinated.

7. A permanently operational expert group shall be created, where necessary in collaboration with other Member States, to maintain expertise and assist the relevant authority in qualitative disease preparedness.

8. Provision must be made for adequate resources to ensure a rapid and effective campaign, including personnel, equipment and laboratory capacity.

9. An up-to-date operations manual shall be available. It shall describe in detail and in a comprehensive and practical way all the actions procedures, instructions and control measures to be employed in handling an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

10. Detailed plans shall be available for emergency vaccination.

11. Staff shall be regularly involved in:

11.1. training in clinical signs, epidemiological enquiry and control of epizootic diseases;
11.2. real-time alert exercises, conducted as follows:
11.2.1. two times within a five years period, the first of which should not have started later than 3 years after
the approval of the plan, or
11.2.2. during the five years period after an outbreak of a major epizootic disease has been effectively controlled
and eradicated, or
11.2.3. one of the two exercises referred to in paragraph 11.2.1 is replaced by a real-time exercise required within the framework of contingency plans for other major epidemic diseases affecting terrestrial animals, or11.2.4. by way of derogation from paragraph 11.2.1 and subject to appropriate provisions in the contingency plan, Member States with a limited population of animals of susceptible species arrange for the
participation in and contribution to real-time exercises carried out in a neighbouring Member States and alarm-drills are carried out as provided for in paragraph (g) (ii) of Annex VII of Directive 2001/89/ EC in relation to all animals of species susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease.
11.3. Training in communication skills to provide ongoing disease awareness campaigns for authorities, farmers and veterinarians.

12. Contingency Plans shall be prepared taking into account the resources needed to control a large number of outbreaks occurring within a short time and caused by several antigenically distinct serotypes or strains as it may be necessary amongst others in the case of deliberate release of foot-and-mouth disease virus.

13. Without prejudice to veterinary requirements, contingency plans shall be prepared with a view to ensuring that in the event of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, any mass disposal of animal carcasses and animal waste is done without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which prevent any avoidable damage to the environment and in particular:
(i) with a minimum risk to soil, air, surface and groundwater, to plants and animals,
(ii) with a minimum nuisance through noise or odours,
(iii) with a minimum adverse effect to the countryside or places of special interest.

14. Such plans shall include the identification of appropriate sites and undertakings for the treatment or disposal of animal carcasses and animal waste in the event of an outbreak.

15. Member State shall ensure that farmers, the rural populace and the population in general are kept informed. Direct and accessible contact shall be provided for the inhabitants of affected areas (inter alia via helplines), as well as information through the national and regional media.

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Authors & Referees

Authors Suzanne I Boardman BVMS MRCVS
Referee Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS

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