Federal and state law enforcement officials, U.S. Department of Agriculture experts and veterinary professionals will attend a two-day course to learn the most updated information on how to protect the nation from biological or domestic threats to plants and animals.
The course, set for May 16 and 17 at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Education Center, will bring together officials from law enforcement, animal health and plant experts to learn more about, and plan for, potential bioterrorism.
A new frontier for law enforcement, animal and plant health investigators is the investigation of zoonotic or emerging disease outbreaks that could occur from domestic or terrorist attempts, said FBI Special Agent Brian Martin, who is coordinating the conference.
The FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate-Biological Countermeasures Unit and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have launched a new curriculum to teach the basics of animal and plant diseases and joint investigations. This course of study focuses on:
- Animal and plant disease basics;
- Triggers that generate notifications between law enforcement and animal health investigators;
- Notifications between agencies;
- Information sharing; and
- Joint investigations.
The goal of the course is to train animal/plant health investigators and law enforcement to work as a cohesive team, from the start, to determine the outbreak origin and mitigate the spread of the zoonotic, emerging, foreign animal disease and/or plant disease before it spills over into the human population or affects the economy.
College of Veterinary Medicine faculty Dr. Julie Gard Schnuelle and Dr. James Wenzel, both large animal faculty in the Department of Clinical Sciences, are among the speakers.
Critical to stopping the mitigation of disease spread is the early detection, identification, and prompt notification of a zoonotic or emerging disease outbreak originating in domestic, wild animals and/or plants, Martin said.
The course will focus on how each agency can work together in joint investigations to create a new frontier in law enforcement, needed with the constant risk of emerging diseases, spillover, and the terrorists’ desire to commit acts of bioterrorism, Martin added.
To register for the course, which is free (a $10 lunch fee can be added), go to www.vetmed.auburn.edu/ce.