The disease control organisation
In case of an outbreak of a serious animal disease, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) may activate the veterinary disease control organisation. The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) is in charge of the strategic action during the disease outbreak. The Steering Committee with subgroups have the primary responsibility for the coordination and the overall management of the disease control.
The structure of the organisation is illustrated below.
The disease control organisation is based on a central and one or more local centres, the National Disease Control Centre (NDCC) and the Local Disease Control Centres (LDCC). Danish legal powers, financial provisions and the chain of command facilitate the response of the public administration to an outbreak of a notifiable disease. Plans are in place for the operation of the NDCC and the establishment of a LDCC.
In the event of an outbreak, the NDCC is initially staffed by employees of the central offices of the DVFA, and the LDCC by employees of the veterinary control office (VCO). The DVFA has three VCOs with regional veterinary officers especially trained in managing suspected cases and outbreaks of notifiable animal diseases.
The DVFA have three dedicated animal health units of regional veterinarians specially trained in managing suspicions and outbreaks of the notifiable animal diseases. These veterinarians are involved in planning and preparing practical issues related to the contingency plans and training of field personnel. The personnel at the Regional Veterinary and Food Administration are trained through seminars, courses and annual simulation exercises. Exercises are conducted on international (Nordic-Baltic Veterinary Contingency Group), national as well as on regional level.
Veterinary officers from the DVFA maintain their expertise in recognising the symptoms of specific notifiable diseases at the National Veterinary Institute at the Technical University of Denmark. At the Institute, the veterinary officers are given the opportunity to observe the development of diseases in research experiments, e.g. calves that have been artificially infected with foot and mouth disease or pigs artificially infected with classical swine fever.
Simulation exercises constitute an important tool for testing contingency plans, but are also used for training DVFA staff and different stakeholders in emergency situations. Furthermore, exercises may be used for testing new equipment and procedures. The experience obtained is used for updating contingency plans and internal procedures.
Each year a different category of exercises is tested. Examples of categories are:
- Training in disease handling procedures and the handling of suspected cases.
- Desktop exercises to simulate a specific dilemma or train the use of new software.
- Exercises with a broader scope, such as assessment of resources, setting up crisis centres, actions to control outbreaks, communication, collaboration between national or international partners and full-scale simulation training.
Simulation exercises are conducted at regional level, at national level and, due to the co-operation among the members of the Nordic-Baltic Veterinary Contingency Group, also as cross-border exercises at international level.
At an interval of some years, a full-scale exercise is conducted, and regularly an extensive contingency exercise is carried out for all eight Nordic and Baltic countries.
The exercises may involve other stakeholders, such as the reference laboratory, the Danish Emergency Management Agency, the National Police, agricultural organisations, slaughterhouses and rendering plants.