Authorities practice for foot-and-mouth disease in alert exercise SORKKA 2010

4.10.2010

<p>Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira organises a national alert exercise in relation to foot-and-mouth disease this week on 6 and 7 October 2010. The exercise is referred to as ”Sorkka 2010”.</p>

The purpose of the exercise is to verify the preparedness of the authorities and the slaughterhouse to prevent the spreading of foot-and-mouth disease from the slaughterhouse. The adequacy and effectiveness of the contingency plans and actions of the authorities and the slaughterhouse are tested in the exercise in an imaginary scenario.

In addition to Evira, the Regional State Administrative Agency of Lapland, the Kuopio Office of the Regional State Administrative Agency of Eastern Finland, as well as a slaughterhouse operating in the area participate in the alert exercise. Only authorities and the slaughterhouse staff are involved in the exercise; no farm visits will be made or farms contacted in any way.

The exercise is organised pursuant to Council Directive 2003/85/EY, which obliges Member States to organise an alert exercise two times within a five-year period in relation to an epizootic disease. The previous foot-and-mouth disease exercise was organised in Finland in 2005 and the preparedness for the Bluetongue disease was tested in an exercise in 2008.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the European Commission, and the neighbouring countries have been informed in advance about the alert exercise.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals. The disease in cattle is characterised by fever, loss of appetite, drooling, decreased milk production, lameness, as well as blisters and ulcers between hooves, on udders and in the mouth. In pigs and sheep the most visible symptom is lameness. The virus survives well in the environment, in feed and in structures.

Mortality from foot-and-mouth disease is usually low; the greatest losses are suffered due to decreased production. There is no treatment for the disease, therefore it is important to detect the disease as early as possible and prevent it from spreading. The occurrence of foot-and-mouth disease in a country restricts the export of biungulate animals and products made from such animals from that country to other countries.

Foot-and-mouth disease is in Finland classified as a highly contagious animal disease under regulatory eradication. Foot-and-mouth disease was last found in Finland in 1959. In Europe the disease was diagnosed in 2001 (UK, France, Holland, Ireland) and in 2007 (UK). The disease is constantly prevalent in e.g. Turkey as well as in several Asian, African and South-American countries.

Foot-and-mouth disease is an animal disease and is not transmitted to humans.

For more information on the exercise, please contact:
Taina Aaltonen, Director, Animal Health and Welfare, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24008, +358 (0) 40 775 0219
Jenni Kiilholma, Senior Officer, tel. +358(0) 20 77 24268, +358 (0) 40 489 3348
Miia Kauremaa, Senior Officer, tel. +358(0) 20 77 24215, +358 (0) 400 318 510
Raisa Nevanlinna, Senior Officer, tel. +358(0) 020 77 24216, +358 (0) 920 503

For more information on foot-and-mouth disease:
Ulla Rikula, veterinarian, tel. +358(0) 20 77 24585, 050 563 2052

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