ROLE OF THE NATIONAL FOOT AND MOUTH (FMD) EXPERT GROUP
1. The role of the National Expert Group in “peacetime”, on suspicion of disease and during an outbreak. Its composition and relationship with other key groups.
2. The Animal Disease Policy Group (ADPG) agreed the roles responsibilities and relationships of the National FMD Expert Group set out in this summary paper.
- There is a legal obligation for the UK to have a National FMD Expert Group (EG). The requirement, purpose and function of the EG is set out in Article 17 of Directive 2003/85/EC (see annex 1). It plays a key role in peacetime a well as on suspicion of disease and in an outbreak.
- The role, membership and function of the EG set out in the Directive is quite specific, however the role and membership also needs to be set out in the context of the UK Command and Control structures set out in the FMD Contingency Plan.
Composition of the EG
5. The EG will be a UK Group. The membership of the EG will comprise:
- The Director General Chief Veterinary Officer (DCVO) (chair)
- Head of Exotic Disease Prevention and Control Division
- Head of the National Emergency Epidemiology Group (NEEG)
- Veterinary representatives of Devolved Administrations
- Head of State Veterinary Service (SVS) Epidemiology
- Head of the FMD laboratory Institute of Animal Health (IAH), Pirbright augmented by appropriate experts from the National FMD Reference Laboratory (IAH, Pirbright) in virology, diagnostics, phylogenetics, vaccinology, epidemiology and pathogenesis. Additional supporting appropriate expert attendance from Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)
- e.g. serology.
- In house modelling representative
- • Modelling representative appointed by the Science Advisory Council – Epidemic Diseases (SAC – ED)
- Invited experts on environmental and rural issues
Relationship with other bodies
6. The EG will report to and be directed by the ADPG. In an outbreak it will also have close links with the NEEG, the National Control centre and the SAC- ED through its nominated modeller. A schematic showing relationships in an outbreak is set out in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1 Schematic of relationships of key groups in an outbreak with the EG
Role in Peacetime
- As set out in the Directive the role of the EG in peacetime is to assist the Competent Authority (the ADPG) in its preparedness for an outbreak.
- There are a large number of issues to which we do not yet have a clear policy and upon which the EG could advise. Some of these are:
- Vaccination scenarios
- The requirement for additional surveillance
- Vaccine Bank composition
- Rare Breed Policy with respect to disease control
- Non Specific Protein (NSP) tests and testing protocols
- Data capture and analysis
- Cleansing and disinfection issues
- Stand down time
- Veterinary Risk Assessments
- Surveillance for Freedom
The list is not exhaustive. As new technologies are developed an important role of the EG will be to review existing plans to monitor developments and recommend the exploitation of and new technologies in its area of competence. The EG will have an important role in identifying any imminent threat of introduction and any necessary response to the threat including increased and targeted surveillance. The EG may also make recommendations on areas of research and development as well as composition of any vaccine bank.
Role on suspicion of disease
12. IAH Pirbright have already provided advice on the levels of sampling required on suspicion of disease. The DCVO or their delegated representative will assess the situation to establish whether it is necessary for members of the EG to take part in any teleconference or call an emergency meeting, which maybe by teleconference of the EG of there are circumstances surrounding the suspicious case which merit expert consideration.
Role in and outbreak
13. The role of the EG in an outbreak is clearly set out in the Article 72(3) of the Directive (see Annex 1). In addition to these functions the EG will advise the ADPG on any surveillance programme to prove freedom of disease.
Frequency of meeting
- During peacetime the EG will meet twice yearly or more frequently if required, to consider the international disease situation, composition of the vaccine bank, any new developments in science and technology which might impact on prevention, detection of disease and control strategies.
- It will meet to consider any commissioned work from the ADPG. Given the outstanding areas of work the EG may meet more frequently to consider requirements and make recommendations to the ADPG.
- In an outbreak situation it is expect the EG in some form will meet on a daily basis. The EG will make use of teleconferencing, videoconferencing as appropriate at the discretion of the chair. The composition of the EG for any particular meeting will be determined by the issues being discussed at the discretion of the chair.
Veterinary Directorate October 2005 ANNEX 1 TO ADPG (10) ROLE OF THE EXPERT GROUP
Article 78 Council Directive 2003/85
- Member States shall create a permanently operational expert group, which is composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way, to maintain expertise in order to assist the competent authority in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. By way of derogation from the first subparagraph, Member States with a limited number of animals of susceptible species may arrange a formalised agreement with other Member States on mutual assistance in regard of the expert group. These arrangements shall be detailed in the contingency plans referred to in Article 72.
- In case of a suspicion of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease the expert group shall at least:
- evaluate the clinical picture and the epidemiological situation;
- give advice regarding the sampling and analyses needed for diagnosing the foot-and-mouth disease together with the additional actions and measures to be taken.
- In case of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth the expert group shall at least:
- conduct at least in the index case and if necessary on the spot, an evaluation of the clinical picture and an analysis of the epidemiological inquiry in order to collect the necessary data for determining:
- the origin of the infection;
- the date of introduction of the infectious agent;
- (iii) the possible spread of the disease;
- report to the Chief Veterinary Officer and the national disease control centre;
- give advice on screening, sampling, test procedures, control and the other measures to be applied and on the strategy to be implemented, including advice on biosecurity measures on holdings or on premises referred to in Article 16, and in relation to emergency vaccination;
- follow up and guide the epidemiological inquiry;
- supplement the epidemiological data with geographical, meteorological and other necessary information;
- analyse the epidemiological data and perform risk assessments at regular intervals;
- assist in ensuring that the processing of animal carcasses and animal waste is done with a minimum of detrimental effect on the environment.