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‘ALTHOUGH the outcome of the exercise has been positive, government still needs to ensure that the lessons identified in this report are learned and preparedness is further improved.’
So says the report of Animal Health's evaluation of Exercise Silver Birch, which took place last year to test the UK's contingency plan for dealing with an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Under European rules, member states are obliged to undertake real-time exercises to assess their FMD contingency plans twice within a five-year period or ‘two times during the five-year period after an outbreak of a major epizootic disease has been effectively controlled and eradicated’.
Exercise Silver Birch culminated last November in a two-day live national exercise simulating days 7 and 8 of an FMD outbreak. Before the live exercise, a number of other aspects of the response to an FMD outbreak were explored: a field element held in May 2010 examined Animal Health's response to a reported case of notifiable disease, while a tabletop exercise was held in June and took participants through several stages of the disease alert system. After the …