ST. HYACINTHE, Quebec – Chief veterinary officers representing the United States, Canada and Mexico have laid the groundwork for a new North American-specific strategy to prevent an outbreak of African Swine Fever.

The announcement came following the 18th North American Animal Health Committee Meeting (NAAHC) attended by Dr. Jaspinder Komal, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Dr. Burke Healey, Chief Veterinary Officer for the United States, and by Dr. Juan Gay Gutierrez, Chief Veterinary Officer for Mexico. The NAAHC meets to review and plan coordinated activities around animal health.

The meeting this year featured a special session on ASF prevention and preparedness.

“Recent events demonstrate that ASF is an international disease that knows no borders and can move rapidly from one country to the next,” Komal said in a statement. “As such, it requires a coordinated, international response to ensure our collective readiness for ASF.

“We have emerged from these meetings with the foundation for a new North American-specific strategy on ASF,” he said. “The strategy will help guide ASF-related coordination and cooperation between Canada, Mexico and the United States in our communications, prevention, preparedness and response activities.”

The discussion focused on:

  • comprehensive disease surveillance
  • surge capacity aimed at helping to ensure our labs and people are ready to respond (for example, laboratories of Canada, Mexico and United states would work together to harmonize diagnostic tests for exotic animal diseases)
  • contingency plans
  • mitigation of risks associated with wild pigs, through activities such as control programs, surveillance, hunter education and farm biosecurity
  • border security including inspection and control measures
  • business continuity with risk-based movements of animal and animal products
  • coordinated risk communications

Komal said next steps include the formation of a North American ASF working group to consist of government and industry representatives from North America. The Mexican delegation announced that they would be hosting a North American ASF Forum in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, on Oct. 22-23, 2019.

ASF international collaboration is accelerating as we take these steps in prevention, preparedness and response,” Komal said. “The three partners look forward to participating in upcoming international meetings and in forging regional and sub-regional partnerships aimed at leading the effort to keep North America ASF-free.”