UK Carries out Classical Swine Fever Exercise

UK - The AHVLA in conjunction with Defra, Welsh Government (WG), Scottish Government (SG) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARDNI), has worked to plan, prepare and deliver Exercise Walnut, a UK national-scale exercise in 2013.
calendar icon 4 July 2013
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Exercise Walnut was a simulation exercise only. Its primary purpose was to test the Government’s contingency plans and established policy, for the control of an outbreak of classical swine fever (CSF).


Council Directive 2003/85/EC on Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease requires Member States to exercise their contingency disease response plans twice within a five-year period (or during the five-year period after the outbreak of a major epizootic disease has been effectively controlled and eradicated). While the directive relates specifically to Foot and Moth Disease (FMD), the type of disease can be replaced by another exotic notifiable disease of animals.

Aim and Objectives

The primary purpose of Exercise Walnut was to test the UK’s current contingency plans and established policies, including the control strategies, for an outbreak of CSF. It also tested AHVLA’s operational response, new outbreak model and expose communications, resilience and capability to scrutiny.

The aim of Exercise Walnut aim is ‘To exercise the Government’s current contingency plans for a national outbreak of CSF and thereby establish the current state of readiness for such an outbreak whilst identifying issues and improvements in policies, plans, instructions, structures and recovery procedures employed in managing an outbreak’.

The national objectives:

  1. Demonstrate that Government has the capacity and capability to respond to an exotic disease outbreak through a two-day live-play simulation exercise. This exercise should assess whether plans and policies provide an effective response to a national outbreak of CSF.
  2. To exercise the new outbreak response model, structures and processes that have been implemented by AHVLA, including how we resource operationally.
  3. To test the Government’s strategic response to a notifiable exotic animal disease outbreak within the UK.
  4. To test the interface between national and regional response structures including our operational partners and stakeholders.
  5. To plan and exercise recovery arrangements in the event of an outbreak of CSF.
  6. To review and identify issues as for improvement throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of the exercise.

Facilitated Workshops and Field Exercise

Exercise Walnut included several small workshops and a field exercise to review the following:

  • Communication and structural arrangements between Defra, SG, WG, DARDNI, Cabinet Office and how structural changes throughout Government and the new AHVLA operational outbreak model will be embedded.
  • To explore the samples management processes from samples submission through to sample analysis at the two reference laboratories, in relation to handling processes for both CSF and African Swine Fever (ASF).
  • To explore the use of the BPEX pig movement system (England & Wales) and scotEID movement system (where pig movements are recorded in Scotland) and the APHIS system in Northern Ireland, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the systems during an outbreak of CSF.
  • To review specific policy areas around breeds at risk and the designation of slaughterhouse policy in advance of the simulation exercise.
  • To exercise CSF field operational procedures on farm when dealing with an Infected Premises (IP), ensuring on farm decisions, processes and actions are practised in a realistic environment.

The output from these workshops will be fed into the final real time exercise to provide further detailed operational and policy context and also assist the implementation of the new outbreak response model. The first tabletop took place on 15 May 2013, with the second on 29 May 2013.

Live Exercise

A two-day live exercise took place on 12 and 13 June 2013. Exercise Walnut concentrated on the response to an outbreak where disease spread has already occurred, in order to fully consider the disease control operations throughout the UK. The three command and control levels of the contingency plan (strategic, tactical, operational) were exercised and included the responses of the Administrations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. At the tactical level the Outbreak Coordination Centre and key policy elements of the National Disease Control Centre were established in Defra’s Nobel House building. Local Disease Control Centres were established in AHVLA Offices in England, Scotland and Wales.

Post-exercise Tabletop Analysis

The exercise will also include a post live exercise tabletop which will explore the recovery phase of the simulated outbreak. The tabletop will take place on 4 July 2013.

Exercise Evaluation

A full exercise evaluation report including lessons identified will be published in late 2013.

Further Reading

Find out more information on CSF by clicking here.

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