U.S. aligns with international partners on disease response, trade

A composite map of the world at night, courtesy of NASA.

With an eye on mitigating disease spread and encouraging trade, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has entered three agreements with international partners focused on response, cooperation and vaccine access.

In the first, with partners Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the U.S. will gain from and contribute to a shared pool of emergency resources during animal disease outbreaks, according to a USDA press release. The countries signed the pact--dubbed the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve--at a May meeting of the World Organization for Animal Health.

The U.S. has also formed an agreement that allows for the sharing of vaccines for foot and mouth disease (FMD) with Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. The participants will be able to request FMD vaccines during emergency situations, and they left the door open for other countries that may want to join.

Lastly, with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the U.S. have struck an agreement to set conditions under which trade can occur during disease outbreaks. According to the USDA release, it will also allow for trade to resume faster from non-affected areas.

The agreements follow a damaging avian flu outbreak in the U.S. that caused ripples around the industry and prompted authorities to issue a multifaceted plan for future threats. The outbreak caused the death of 48 million birds in 15 states, with the USDA in response signing an avian flu vaccine stockpile deal last October with Ceva and Harrisvaccines.

- here's the USDA release

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