Marty Vanier, DVM, is director of operations at Kansas State University's National Agricultural Biosecurity Center. She also serves as the senior program manager for strategic partnership development for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) through an inter-agency personnel agreement between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and K-State.
During the recent U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) Annual Meeting held in Kansas City, Vanier provided an update to USAHA members on the program’s progress to-date.
Vanier says the DHS remains on pace to reach initial operating capability for NBAF by May 2021. At that point she says, the USDA will take on all responsibilities for bringing the facility to its full operating capability and executing the NBAF mission. Currently, DHS and USDA share the ag-defense mission at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, which will transfer to the facility in Manhattan, Kansas once it is fully operational.
With much of the facility’s construction work completed, Vanier says workers now are engaged in installing technology and equipment for use when NBAF is up and running. “Due to where we are now in the facility’s construction schedule, where two-thirds of the investment in construction is now complete, there is far more in place now to show and tell,” she says.
During the USAHA meeting, Vanier says considerable discussion centered on the need for coordination and surveillance around the spread of African swine fever virus (ASF), reinforcing the need for the services NBAF will provide. The ASF virus has been found in swine across China, home to roughly half of the world's total pig population, and it appears to be spreading across that country. “It comes as no surprise that the National Pork Producers Council identified ASF as a priority issue. As a result of concerns around the spread of ASF virus, a resolution was adopted at the USAHA Annual Meeting urging the federal government to establish a formal ASF surveillance program,” Vanier says.
Last month, she adds, leadership at Plum Island formed an interagency task force aimed at coordinating ASF applied research and diagnostics in collaboration with industry, academia, and international partners. “This is exactly the type of work that necessitates a response capability like NBAF which will offer superior lab facility capabilities for USDA relative to the aging DHS facility located on Plum Island,” she says.
For more about the NBAF and its role in protecting animal agriculture, see these articles on BovineVetOnline: