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How Feral Swine Affect the Exotic Animal Industry

The range of feral swine is increasing across the United States. Originally brought over by early explorers, swine are an old world species not native North America. Over time swine that have escaped or been released into the wild have bred and increased the overall population; and while they are the same species, these wild animals look very different from pigs raised on modern farms. While feral hogs can cause tremendous property damage to lawns, golf courses, and wildlife habitat, The Fusion Center’s concern rests primarily in their potential as disease vectors. As their range spreads, consider how this would affect the spread of a Foreign Animal Disease. If Foot and Mouth Disease were to emerge in this country in a region where feral swine may become reservoirs, eradication of the disease would be difficult if not impossible. There are an estimated 6 million feral swine in at least 35 states with a high concentration in Texas and California. For reference, please see the 2016 Map of Feral Swine Populations by County : http://swine.vet.uga.edu/nfsms/information/map2016.htm . USDA/Wildlife Services conducts disease surveillance activities on feral swine, often in cooperation with State wildlife agencies. The goal of this surveillance is to understand the prevalence of different diseases of concern; those diseases that impact agricultural species or to humans. The Fusion Center recently spoke with Dr. Jennifer McDougle of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dr. McDougle reported that surveillance of feral swine in California has historically shown evidence of pseudorabies infection in these animals, and that recent surveillance has shown an expansion of pseudorabies and brucellosis detection. This increase in brucellosis is very concerning, as it is a zoonotic disease. It is advised that you do your best to protect your collections from contact with these animals wherever possible. This includes understanding the risk associated with using these animals as a food source, such as carcass feeding for carnivore enrichment. Employees and volunteers that have contact with or live close to sites where feral swine are within 20 feet of their property should be made aware of the risks and biosecurity through PPE and foot baths should be utilized. Consider isolation and blood testing of new swine additions for pseudorabies and brucellosis. To learn more about pseudorabies and brucellosis, great references can be found at the American Association of Zoo Veterinarian’s Infectious Disease Manual http://www.aazv.org/?page=754&hhSearchTerms=%22infectious+and+disease+and+manual%22 Or the Iowa State’s Center for Food Security and Public Health http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/DiseaseInfo/index.php Feral swine activity can be reported to the USDA using the phone number 1-866-4-USDA-WS.


Potential Recovery Resources   Recently updated !

The ZAHP Fusion Center has become aware of some potential resources of assistance (included below) for facilities beginning the long road to recovery from Hurricane Irma. Please note, it is always a Best Practice to discuss liability and compensatory issues in any conversations with individuals providing assistance.  This is true in our industry and others as well.  We continue to try and assist you where we can during these trying times for our industry. For Volunteers Volunteer Florida – Through the Fusion Center’s relationship with the State Emergency Operations Center, we have found a point person with Volunteer Florida, part of the Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters (VOAD).  Volunteer Florida has thousands of volunteers across the state assisting with hurricane relief on some level.  As critical needs for the public are being met, we believe it may be a good time to connect to this organization to see if there is interest in assisting zoological facilities, aquariums, sanctuaries and wildlife rehab centers in basic clean up and recovery tasks.  If your facility may benefit from the assistance of volunteers please contact Ashley Zielinski Azielinski@aza.org or Yvonne Nadler yvonne.nadler@gmail.com with the following information: Name and address of the location requesting assistance List specific needs/tasks that could be accomplished by volunteers.  Photos may help. The name of the POINT PERSON at the affected facility, and their contact information. The Volunteer Florida folks will need to have a facility point person to discuss possible assistance.  ZAHP doesn’t deploy these folks, but we can get needs on their radar screens NOTE: these people are not animal experts, if you are in need of animal care relief, please contact us under a separate email. Recovery Resources S. Chamber of Commerce Disaster Help Desk for Business  888-MY-BIZ-HELP A number of resources and guidance for business recovery. Domestic Preparedness An interesting article on damage and debris removal. Disaster Assistance.gov Access to disaster help and resources. Resource Management and Cost Tracking Basic information provided by Dr. Kevin Dennison,  National Emergency Management Staff Veterinarian, USDA-APHIS Animal Care; includes supplemental resources.  Grant Opportunities American Veterinary Medical Foundation Has a disaster relief program for AVMA members. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals The ASPCA has grants for emergency and disaster assistance that can be reviewed fairly quickly. International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) They provide disaster response grants.  Animal Grant Makers Gateway to numerous philanthropic organizations committed to supporting animal-related causes.  Additional Tools Amazon Wish List This is a great tool to use to get what you need without losing the money you spend on unnecessary fees, admin costs or shipping.  


Hurricane Resource Management and Cost Tracking

In the ongoing response to Hurricane Harvey the exotic animal community has gone above and beyond to assist facilities in need, proving once again that helping one another is in our DNA. As the long road to recovery from Harvey begins, Hurricane Irma is now potentially threatening the United States. Whether your facility is directly impacted or you are responding to another in need, documentation of assistance is very important.  The following information is very important for responders to Hurricane Harvey, and may be even more important if Irma impacts the US.  Included below are some basics on resource management and cost tracking, provided by Dr. Kevin Dennison of USDA Animal Care. Please note that any specific questions about FEMA should be directed to your local Emergency Management agency.   Also included below are links to downloadable to-do lists and tracking documents for anyone that may not have a template readily available, and information on American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMF)’s Disaster Reimbursement Grants.     Basics on Resource Management and Cost Tracking  Provided by Dr. Kevin Dennison,  National Emergency Management Staff Veterinarian, USDA-APHIS Animal Care   Major disasters are complex challenges for local, state, federal and non-governmental response partners.  In major disasters, FEMA may provide direct response support and reimbursement grants (Public Assistance Grants) to eligible applicants for eligible expenses.  Typical cost shares are 75% Federal and 25% State/Local but currently the FEMA is picking up 100% of eligible assistance costs for 30 days, then 90%.  Documentation of all expenses, work and authorization for that work is critical.  This includes documentation that work was part of the official response (such as orders or email communications) and detailed documentation of what work was done, personnel, their positions (veterinarians vs volunteers for example) and any equipment (including vehicles) and supplies used.  You cannot track too much detail on costs! Donations and voluntary efforts, if documented, may sometimes be used towards the State or local cost share. Some non-governmental organizations may be eligible sub-applicants for FEMA.  Local or State emergency management personnel can provide specific insight to eligibility of a non-governmental entity.  As an example, however, a nonprofit organization that operates a zoo on city lands might be considered an eligible sub-applicant.  A nonprofit organization providing emergency sheltering for the county might also be eligible, depending on contracts, agreements and tasking orders. The following recommendations should be considered when requesting resources or responding to incident needs: It is important for locally responding agencies and organizations to request resources through their established jurisdictional Incident Command or through the local Emergency Operations Center.  Any agency or organization sending resources should consider whether they have an official request and if they are working in coordination with their own local emergency management agency. All personnel should check into the incident.  If not checked into the incident with the appropriate local authorities, there could be safety and accountability concerns and the work might not be eligible to be considered in future cost sharing grant applications.  Questions on resource […]


Hurricane Updates

Irma Update: 9/7/17 As Hurricane Irma continues its path towards Florida, we wanted to take this opportunity to share the below contact information and resources.  The latest information on Irma’s path is available on the National Hurricane Center’s site here:   http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.   Please remember that disasters begin and end locally! If you have an animal welfare need in the wake of Irma you will need to request assistance through your county emergency manager. A list of emergency managers by county, with county websites and phone numbers, is available here: http://www.floridadisaster.org/County_EM/ASP/county.asp; this information is also available in map form.   The state of Florida has already activated the  group responsible for assisting with animal welfare needs throughout disasters in the statewide Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), and requests for assistance made to county EOCs will be elevated to the state level as needed.     Anyone needing assistance with a captive wildlife issue can also reach out to their Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) captive wildlife investigator. Investigators have already been reaching out to coastal areas on the eastern side of the state and offering  assistance to facilities who need it.  If you do not have direct contact information available  you can call the main FWC Captive Wildlife Office at 850-488-6523.  Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulated facilities in south Florida have already been contacted by their inspector to assess status ahead of impact; these facilities have been instructed to communicate needs and report on the status and safety of staff and animals by calling or texting  the designated 24/7 telephone number:  919.923.0573.   We are closely monitoring this event, and welcome you to contact us if you have any questions or feel we may otherwise be of assistance to you at this time.  If you are planning to assist an impacted facility or would like to offer assistance, that information can be sent to ZAHP Fusion Center staff :  Ashley Zielinski, Yvonne Nadler, and Steve Olson. This information will be recorded to minimize duplication of efforts should an animal welfare need arise.  Additional Resources: The FEMA mobile app provides resources, weather alerts, important maps and safety tips The public can report or look for a missing person or animal here: https://pl.nlm.nih.gov/en Google Crisis Maps show public alerts, evacuation resources, and shelters.  This FEMA press release includes additional tips and information in preparation for Hurricane Irma Stay safe everyone! Harvey Update 8/28/17  I’m sure you recognize that the flooding in Texas is unprecedented; an 800-year flood.  First responders are focusing on human needs, and while many of you in the path have prepared and have so far weathered this storm, unmet needs are just now being recognized for animals in disasters.  A huge shout out to those who have already stepped up to assist facilities in need.  Locals helping locals, that is the quickest way to get things done. The ZAHP Fusion Center has been asked by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC )to assist on a task force to assist with all […]


Hurricane Season, Carfentanil, Zoo Ready, and National Preparedness Month

Included below is an update on the current Atlantic hurricane season,  a debrief from the recent Zoo Ready meeting for Veterinary Services district 4, information regarding the role of carfentanil in the US opioid crisis, and an announcement regarding National Preparedness Month. If you have any questions about the material provided or suggestions for future content please contact us.    Updated: Hurricane Season Outlook As we enter the peak months (August – October) of the Atlantic’s hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated their outlook (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.shtml ) to predict a 60% chance of an above normal hurricane season, up from the 45% chance predicted in May.  This updated outlook predicts a 70% chance of each of the following:   14 – 19 named storms ( including 6 named storms so far this season),  5 – 9 hurricanes, 2- 5 major hurricanes,  Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 100%-170% of the median (including the ACE of the 6 named storms so far this season).  With this update there is a 30% chance that the Atlantic will have a normal hurricane season, and only a 10% chance of a below normal season.  There is no official outlook on landfalls of these storms as that will be dependent on daily weather patterns. Up to date news, predictions and advisories regarding tropical storms can be seen on the National Hurricane Center site, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.  Safety tips and resources to assist you in preparing for a hurricane can be found here: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/index.shtml .   Zoo Ready: District 4 Meeting Debrief In June the ZAHP Fusion Center traveled to Austin, TX to conduct the  Zoo Ready meeting for Veterinary Services District 4, focusing on enhancing foreign animal disease response communication channels,  with an additional one-day workshop on Contingency Planning for the Exotic Animal Industry.  Beyond being a learning experience,  these well attended meetings  gave participants from over 30 exotic wildlife facilities the valuable opportunity to connect with their state regulatory officials, federal agency and program representatives, and leadership from various wildlife associations.  This 3-day meeting was highly successful, with a more diverse audience of exhibitors than ever before and participant feedback consistently citing the value of having regulatory and industry partners in the same room to discuss the potential impacts of disease and disaster.  Thank you to the Texas Disposal System’s Exotic Wildlife Ranch for  generously hosting this meeting!   Carfentanil Information The United States opioid crisis continues, with 6 states and 4 tribal nations declaring public health emergencies to date.  The usage of fentanyl has been covered frequently in the news because coming into contact with even trace amounts can cause a potentially fatal overdose. This issue caused the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to issue a warning to first responders on the dangers of fentanyl exposure.  Those of you in the exotic animal industry are likely familiar with carfentanil, a 100 times more powerful analog of fentanyl used by veterinarians to anesthetize large mammals such as elephants and rhinos.  Carfentanil has been discovered in […]


2017 Microgrant Recipients

Thank you to everyone who applied for our Contingency Planning Microgrants! We received strong applications representing institutions at all stages of contingency planning, and are thrilled to support 12 amazing projects from first aid training, to local planning meetings, hazmat exercises and more! Congratulations to our grant recipients: Audubon Zoo Conservators Center Dakota Zoo Detroit Zoo Jacksonville Zoo Mesker Park Zoo North Carolina Aquariums Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo Racine Zoo San Diego Zoo Save the Animals Rescue Foundation Zoo New England If you did not get to apply for this year’s grant program don’t worry, we hope to offer similar funding opportunities in the future. Check back here or join our listserv for updates!


HAZMAT: Could it Happen to You?

This update includes a debrief on a hazardous materials tabletop that recently took place at a zoo including links to resources and materials that can assist other facilities concerned about that threat.   Information for free virtual trainings from the office of bombing protection, links to archival copies of NOAA’s 2017 Hurricane Awareness webinar series, and information on how to participate in a survey of preparedness in our industry currently being conducted by graduate students at the University of Chicago’s Threat and Response Management Program is also included.    HAZMAT:  Could it Happen to You? Rail lines, natural gas, and oil pipelines zigzag across this country.  Semi tankers carry millions of gallons of hazardous materials on our roadways daily.  If there should be a spill at a nearby rail yard, or a ruptured pipeline adjacent to your facility, are you prepared?  To evaluate their preparedness plans for just such an emergency, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (OHDZA) teamed up with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to develop and host “HAZMAT at the Zoo”.  Spearheaded by the Zoo’s security team and veterinary departments, experienced exercise developers with NEMA drafted a realistic mass casualty/mass fatality based scenario for the facility.   The tabletop exercise simulated a toxic chemical leak at a rail yard adjacent to the Zoo on a crowded Saturday, with a resulting chemical cloud covering portions of the zoo and impacting staff, volunteers, visitors, and collections.  Exercise objectives tested Operational Communications, Coordination, Public Information and Warning, and more using the Incident Command System (ICS). The exercise was highly successful, and the zoo and responders both came away with ideas to improve their plans for HAZMAT events at the zoo.   The scenario included a wide range of representation from emergency response agencies and the zoological community, with final numbers exceeding 90 people!  The guest list included zoo staff, city and county first responders, state and federal agencies, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, and 3 other zoological facilities in the area.  While those facilities were not affected by the ‘virtual spill’, this represented a great opportunity to collaborate and share information across the industry, giving participants the ability to return to their own institution and develop or improve their own plan. Despite the robust attendance list, participants were still able to identify additional agencies they may need to connect with in this type of incident, such as local hospitals and the county coroner. Another area of improvement identified, was to provide examples of similar incidents and their response for future exercises.   Please see below for resources that may help you assess HAZMAT risks at your facility and prepare for a potential incident.  If you are thinking of developing your own tabletop exercise and would like more information, please email Ashley at the ZAHP Fusion Center who can provide you with additional resources as well as contact information for the OHDZA.   Resources: Maps North American HAZMAT Situations and Deployments: http://hazmat.globalincidentmap.com/home.php Energy Information Administration Maps ( includes layers for crude […]


2017 Safety Summit

In late March, the ZAHP Fusion Center participated in the Safety Summit held at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Midyear meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are happy to share the following presentations and relevant documents with you: DHS Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program (courtesy of Jeff Murray, Protective Security Advisor – Department of Homeland Security) Attendees were given an introduction to the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program. Under this program Protective Security Advisors are able to assist facility owners and operators via Assist Visits and a subsequent Infrastructure Survey Tool (IST) security survey,  ultimately providing a detailed assessment of the security and resilience of a facility.  More information can be found at https://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-vulnerability-assessments , but some key point from the introduction to this program are that it is:  Completely free Voluntary and non-regulatory, i.e. you will not be reported to any regulatory agencies Protected under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, i.e. your data will not be shared Available to facilities of all business models  Each US state and territory has at least one protective security advisor that can answer any questions you may have and help you get started with the program. You can get in touch with yours by emailing pscdoperations@hq.dhs.gov. Hurricane Matthew: Information, Coordination and Lessons Learned (courtesy of Rick Holzsworth, Safety and Security – Jacksonville Zoo)  In this session, updates will be provided on preparedness and response measures in Florida institutions for Hurricane Matthew. Conducting Complex Animal Escape Drills and Pre-Planning Events (courtesy of Anne Knapp, Director of Animal Resources and Andrea Lewicki, Administrative Assistant – Zoo New England) In this session, Zoo New England will share the process for planning a complex animal escape drill, and the lessons learned from that exercise. They will also share how they use the Incident Command System to help them organize their “Free Fun Friday” events. Hazards Drill Planning and Reporting (Courtesy of Casey Coy, Vice President of Operations – Florida Aquarium; George Peterson, Director of Dive Programs – Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Nate Fague, Director of Safety and Security – Mystic Aquarium) It’s challenging to find the time to train and exercise, but it is SO important. In this session, participants will be given tips on planning drills in your facility, some proven ways to ‘report out’ the outcomes, and some strategies for USING what you learned in the drills to improve your planning and training Panel Discussion, Forms, Tools and Resources This discussion will brought a number of Safety Committee professionals into an informal Q & A session where they will share some of the resources they have used to develop robust plans, and training programs. The resources below were provided in this discussion (please keep in mind that these are sample drill documents) :  Courtesy of Zoo New England: Drill Tactics Worksheet AI eDrill Master to share FFF 207 Org Chart FFF 204 Assignment List EF TF Courtesy of Detroit Zoo:  2017 Drill Completion Documentation – BLANK Emergency Event Reporting Form & Supervisor […]


2017 Safety Summit Recap, Hurricane Season Information, and More

This update includes a valuable debrief from the 2017 Safety Summit, information regarding the upcoming hurricane season, and more.   In this update: Hurricane season information 2017 Safety Summit debrief including: Introduction to  Infrastructure Protection programs from the department of homeland security Summit presentations Sample drill reporting documents from zoos and aquariums Cybersecurity 2017 Community Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza (report)     Hurricane Season 2017 The Atlantic hurricane season will officially start on June 1st, meaning there is no better time than the present to make sure your facility is prepared.  The projected forecast  for the Atlantic hurricane season is less active than the 2016 season, with a total of 12 named storms, six (6) hurricanes, and two (2) major hurricanes expected.  Another factor in this forecast is the potential development of an El Nino Southern Oscillation sometime during the season,  in their last update NOAA put the odds of development at 50% It is important to note that there is no strong correlation between the number of storms and the number of U.S. landfalls, so facilities on the Atlantic coast should prepare regardless of the forecast.  As part of their Weather Ready Nation initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has compiled a robust collection of useful links and helpful tips  for last week’s Hurricane Preparedness Week, accessible here:  https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness .   Safety Summit 2017 In late March, the ZAHP Fusion Center participated in the Safety Summit held at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Midyear meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are happy to share the following presentations and relevant documents with you: DHS Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program (courtesy of Jeff Murray, Protective Security Advisor – Department of Homeland Security) Attendees were given an introduction to the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program. Under this program Protective Security Advisors are able to assist facility owners and operators via Assist Visits and a subsequent Infrastructure Survey Tool (IST) security survey,  ultimately providing a detailed assessment of the security and resilience of a facility.  More information can be found at https://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-vulnerability-assessments , but some key point from the introduction to this program are that it is:  Completely free Voluntary and non-regulatory, i.e. you will not be reported to any regulatory agencies Protected under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, i.e. your data will not be shared Available to facilities of all business models  Each US state and territory has at least one protective security advisor that can answer any questions you may have and help you get started with the program. You can get in touch with yours by emailing pscdoperations@hq.dhs.gov. Hurricane Matthew: Information, Coordination and Lessons Learned (courtesy of Rick Holzsworth, Safety and Security – Jacksonville Zoo)  In this session, updates will be provided on preparedness and response measures in Florida institutions for Hurricane Matthew. Conducting Complex Animal Escape Drills and Pre-Planning Events (courtesy of Anne Knapp, Director of Animal Resources and Andrea Lewicki, Administrative Assistant – Zoo New England) In this session, Zoo New England […]


USDA Confirms Second Case of HPAI in TN

Yesterday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed a second case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a commercial flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  This is the same North American wild bird origin H7N9 strain that was previously confirmed in TN. It is NOT the same H7N9 that infected humans in Asia.  The full announcement has been included at the bottom of this email.  As you may be aware,  Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) has also been detected in Tennessee (https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/news/49066) .  While the epidemiology  for both the low and high path strains found is ongoing, they are believed to be closely related. Facilities in the affected area should monitor information provided on their State Animal Health Official’s Websites.   If you would like to stay up to date on surveillance efforts there are a number of reports available here,  https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian-influenza-disease/defend-the-flock/defend-the-flock-ai-wild-birds , including Monthly Summary Data from the National Wild Bird Avian Influenza Surveillance Program.  Looking abroad, the current HPAI outbreak in Europe sadly affected a zoo last week.  Despite being kept in a tent since December as a preventative measure, one of the pelicans at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria became acutely ill and was euthanized early last week.  Subsequent testing confirmed the presence of HPAI H5N8  in the rest of the flock, and they were culled in order to protect the zoos remaining bird stock (http://www.agriculture.com/markets/newswire/vienna-zoo-puts-20-pelicans-to-sleep-after-bird-flu-virus-found). A number of you have already contacted the ZAHP Fusion Center with questions and concerns as you work on updating plains for avian influenza, and we encourage you to continue to reach out with your questions.  One commonly requested item is plan examples,  and we do have a handful of de-identified institutional plans that can be provided as an additional resource upon request.  Please send any questions or request to azielinski@aza.org.    USDA Confirms Second Case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Commercial Flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee.  It is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia.  The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case. Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response.  State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun.  Federal and State partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.   The United States has […]