Simulation exercise “Waterhole”: lumpy skin disease and high pathogenicity avian influenza in Australia

20 September to 3 November 2023

Dr Mark Schipp, Delegate to WOAH and Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, Australia) informed WOAH that a national laboratory simulation exercise titled Exercise Waterhole, will be conducted in Australia between 20-21 September 2023, 4 October 2023 and 1-3 November 2023, using the concurrence of lumpy skin disease (LSD) and high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) as an outbreak scenario.

Participants include the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), who are leading the exercise, state and territory government animal health laboratories, and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP). Observers may involve representatives from Public Health Laboratory Network, Animal Health Australia, livestock industries, veterinary schools, and private veterinary laboratories.

The aim of Exercise Waterhole is to test and evaluate national laboratory preparedness for a major emergency animal disease (EAD) incursion across the spectrum of animal health laboratory services in Australia. The exercise objectives are:

  • Practice the application of animal health laboratory regulations and legislation in the event of a major animal disease incursion across Australia.
  • Confirm that Australia has sufficient laboratory capacity and capability to manage the demands of multiple concurrent high impact EADs across Australia.
  • Assess the effectiveness of communication and information management arrangements within and between Australian animal health laboratories.
  • Identify resource and logistical constraints that may impact on Australia’s animal health laboratories, when responding to multiple concurrent high impact EADs across Australia.

The exercise involves four key activities:

  • Two in-person discussion exercises to be conducted on 20-21 September 2023 that will focus on laboratory plans and procedures, and resources and logistics.
  • A small-scale functional exercise to be conducted in a single laboratory to identify potential weak points in the laboratory system on 4 October 2023.
  • A multi-day functional exercise to be conducted in real time, on 1-3 November 2023, involving government animal health laboratories in Australia.

For further information about the exercise, please contact the Exercise Waterhole Secretariat at [email protected].

World Animal Health Information and Analysis Department (WAHIAD), World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), [email protected].