routinely. In addition to advising producers, veterinarians can also participate in listserves and report diseases to state and federal officials. An additional emerging problem is the need for education at all levels on proper vigilance and reporting.
There are various surveillance programs at the state level, including the National Animal Health Reporting System (NAHRS), she noted. State veterinary diagnostic labs report on diseases they find, and state veterinarians also use telephone or online networks “to report the information they are seeing and talk about it and come up with recommendations for additional testing needs.”
Federal monitoring programs are both voluntary and mandatory, she said. Voluntary programs include the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), which collects information on farm management, production, and diseases in order to create baseline data.
Monitoring is also done at feedlots and slaughter plants, where samples are taken and information on partial or whole condemnations is recorded. As an Office of International Epizootics member country, the United States participates in international awareness activities and information exchanges with experts in other countries and key trading partners. “That allows our vigilance at the border—be that air, sea, or land—to be appropriately enhanced based on what is going on around the world,” Wineland said.
Dr. Joan Arnoldi, Director of the Animal Industry Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture, said that the first line of defense in detecting and reporting emerging diseases—the farm owner and worker, local veterinary practitioner, and state laboratory technician—is also the “weakest link, and perhaps the most difficult to deal with.” Arnoldi stressed that more effort and resources should be directed to this first line of defense.
Arnoldi described two scenarios that illustrate the potential extremes of responding to an outbreak: In the first scenario, it takes weeks for a problem to come to the attention of officials with the expertise and authority to take action. The second is a best-case scenario where controls are put in place within 24 hours. The difference in response hinges on whether the first line of defense, which could be a minimum-wage worker, an absentee owner, or an overworked practitioner, has the adequate background, training, or awareness to recognize and report a problem. “The further up the chain or away from the disease problem you go, the more sophisticated the system becomes, whether you are speaking of molecular techniques in the lab or the very complex integrated control systems. The usefulness of these sophisticated systems may be dependent upon those unsophisticated and variable beginnings,” Arnoldi said.
Some of the barriers that states and localities face include declining resources, fewer staff, and insufficient training. “We have a lack of interest by local political bodies. We have a lack of good coordination of the resources that are available at times and poor or little rapport with producers, who view us as regulators or the government, neither of which are very popular in the