After successful piloting in four states-Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas-the Enhanced Passive Surveillance (EPS) system will be piloted in all major animal industries and at least 15 states over the next three years. The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence, hosted the official project kick-off meeting on November 19, 2013 in Fort Collins, Colorado, with officials from the DHS and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), animal health professionals, state animal health officials, and other stakeholders.
Researchers from the Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT) were also on hand to present the customized suite of tools they developed for the EPS project. TCAT is part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and is working on this project in partnership with the FAZD Center.
The EPS system developed by the FAZD Center is designed to provide early detection of potential disease outbreaks or changes in animal health status. The system currently captures animal health information on both healthy and sick animals from mixed-animal, poultry and equine veterinarians in real-time through the use of mobile technologies. The information is then organized into an easy-to-use computer display for monitoring and analysis, where it is integrated with data from veterinary diagnostic laboratories, wildlife biologists, and livestock markets. During a disease outbreak, the system could provide timely surveillance information to emergency managers, state animal health officials and veterinarians, allowing them to respond to situations as they develop. In addition, documenting the number of animals observed or examined by veterinarians for clinical signs compatible with certain endemic and high consequence animal diseases, and documenting healthy animals, will assist USDA in identifying geographic areas that are absent of a disease event during an outbreak to assist in demonstrating disease freedom to U.S. trading partners.
The expansion of the EPS system builds on the success of the two smaller pilot projects: a proof-of-concept pilot funded through the DHS Science and Technology Directorate that focused on cattle and small ruminants (sheep and goats); and an expansion of this pilot, funded by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), that focused on the equine and poultry industries. For the cattle and small ruminants pilot, iPad users in three states have submitted more than 13,000 surveillance reports since July 2012. This information represents the health status of more than 930,000 animals in those states.