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K-State Today

March 25, 2021

National Agricultural Biosecurity Center receives grants to improve animal disease response

Submitted by Office of the Vice President for Research

Researchers at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC, have been recently awarded three grants for research projects to protect animal health.

The first of these grants from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or USDA APHIS, is an award for $199,340 under the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program. The project will focus on the creation of a toolkit to enable livestock exhibition organizers, local emergency management officials and livestock owners to work together to develop comprehensive plans for the overall safety of the animals being exhibited.

"This project will address gaps in the current state of disease response while providing tools to those tasked with responding to an incident that likely falls well outside of their regular duties or training," said Adrian Self, operations research analyst for the NABC.

Researchers hope this planning toolkit will enhance the overall knowledge and awareness of the importance of biosecurity across a wide spectrum of livestock and commodity areas.

A second grant from USDA APHIS through its National Animal Health Laboratory Network, or NAHLN for $76,115 was awarded to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, or KSVDL, who will be closely collaborating with the NABC and several other partners to design, refine, implement and assess response in a table-top exercise with a follow-up functional exercise of a simulated African Swine Fever outbreak.

These will be the first exercises to focus on the laboratory response by KSVDL in the face of an outbreak. The mock scenario will focus on delivery, processing and testing of simulated surge capacity numbers of samples, and communication with federal partners including the NAHLN and the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

This collaborative project will be shaped by representatives from KSVDL, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the NABC, the Biosecurity Research Institute, regional veterinarians and producer groups.

"KSVDL has been participating in foreign animal disease exercises for many years but this opportunity to conduct laboratory-focused exercises will be a first for us," said Kelli Almes, who serves as the foreign animal disease and outbreak section head at KSVDL. "We are very pleased to have this funding opportunity and the ability to work with such wonderful collaborators on this project."

A third grant for $25,000 is to initiate a research partnership with the Department of Homeland Security; Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office; the Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense, or FAV-D Branch; and Sandia National Laboratories, or SNL. The group will develop a strategy and program that will build readiness and resilience in food, agriculture, and veterinary systems by establishing a defensive program to address intentional and unintentional threats of a catastrophic nature.

"The development of an effective program for defending food, agriculture and veterinary systems requires a thorough understanding of the sectors, infrastructure, components, stakeholders, policies and existing programs that comprise or influence each system, in addition to the connections between them," said David Hogg, program manager for the NABC.

The NABC will collaborate with SNL on the development of a FAVD architecture description by providing subject matter expertise and contributing to the SNL team’s assessment of capabilities, gaps and needs.

"These projects demonstrate national recognition of K-State's strengths in agricultural biosecurity through interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative research," said Marty Vanier, director of NABC. "K-State's involvement in these projects will strengthen strategic partnerships and collaborations in the region as a model for multi-state and national participatory research and discovery."