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 ( ) 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,  Safety tips and resources to assist you in preparing for a hurricane can be found here: .


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 opioids sold on the street for recreational use and has been implicated in human exposures and deaths.  Veterinarians that have worked with this drug understand the risk, undergo training with regards to handling the drug and are careful to take the necessary precautions to prevent accidental exposure.

According to Wildlife Pharmaceuticals USA, the supplier for many of the anesthetic agents used by zoo and wildlife veterinarians, there is currently NO legal supply of carfentanil for the United States.  In discussion with the Food and Drug Administration, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals voluntarily agreed  to withdraw its FDA approval of carfentanil 19 July 2017 due to this potential for misuse. 

Carfentanil overdoses have not come from diverted supply of this agent from zoos. The drug is likely coming into the US through Canada or Mexico from clandestine labs in China and elsewhere. Even though China has banned the export of carfentanil, smuggling is occurring.

Veterinarians that have worked with this drug understand the risk, undergo training with regards to handling the drug and are careful to take the necessary precautions to prevent accidental exposure. Unfortunately, as it becomes more prevalent on the street, there is a great risk of first responders and the general public being unknowingly exposed to cafentanil.  


Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), and this year’s theme is “Disaster’s Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”  This is a great reminder to look through your emergency plans and consider conducting a drill at your facility. There a number of great resources available at