The unusual exercise has been masterminded by Dr Nihat Pakdil, the deputy undersecretary for the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock in Turkey. Pakdil is one of only a few individuals who has a rough idea of what will happen over the intensive, week-long exercise. The idea with this simulation is that all those involved have as little idea as possible as to how the mock disease will spread or where it originated from.
This is done to ensure the Turkish government can effectively simulate how an actual outbreak would be handled by the relevant authorities in real life.
The full-scale simulation of foot-and-mouth disease will take part in the Province of Çanakkale and its neighbouring villages from Monday 28 March to Friday 1 April.
Between September 2015 to December 2015 there were 217 cases of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Turkey, according to the national newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
Pakdil told the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that the specific aim of the exercise was to maintain the responsiveness of veterinary services in the Thrace region – a foot-and-mouth disease-free zone where vaccination is widely practised.
Turkey’s health officials will be looking to test the foot-and-mouth outbreak contingency plan and ensure staff are trained on its implementation. It will also test operational response arrangements, as well as examine the liaison and interdependencies between its operational partners.