Bird flu simulation critical for Australia’s preparedness
Exercise Eleusis, the first major test of Australia’s ability to respond to an outbreak of avian influenza will be staged this week.
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Australian Minister for Health and Ageing
Peter McGauran27 November 2005
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The first major test of Australia’s ability to respond to an outbreak of avian influenza will be staged this week.
Exercise Eleusis will run between 29 November and 1 December 2005, and involve about 1,000 people, including the Federal and State governments, and their departments of agriculture and health. The agriculture industry will also be involved.
This exercise is an important component of Australia’s preparedness for the disease, the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, and Health Minister, Tony Abbott, said today.
"Exercise Eleusis will employ a hypothetical scenario to test how well agriculture and health departments, across all levels of government, can work with industry to identify, contain and eradicate a zoonotic disease," Mr McGauran said.
Mr McGauran said Exercise Eleusis was a significant training and learning exercise for the people who would have to deal with a real event.
"This is an opportunity to identify areas where we can continue to improve our emergency response systems," he said. "The exercise has generated huge interest from overseas and Australia stands ready to share what we learn from the simulation with all countries."
The focus of Exercise Eleusis is an outbreak of the disease in birds, and will test our ability to communicate response plans to industry and the public, and our measures to eradicate the disease. The exercise will also be an important test of the Australian health system.
"The exercise includes hypothetical cases of people contracting bird flu," Mr Abbott said. "All Australian health authorities are participating and this is an opportunity to test our emergency response plans.
"The Australian Government has committed more than $300 million on pandemic preparedness, including $170 million on the Australian health response, and $140 million to help our regional neighbours."
While avian influenza is a threat, surveillance continues to show the H5N1 virus is not present in Australia. Avian influenza and human pandemic influenza are different diseases. Avian influenza in birds does not easily cause disease in humans.
Further information on Exercise Eleusis, and avian influenza, is available by following links at www.daff.gov.au/eleusis
Media contacts: Mr McGauran’s office (Russ Neal) 0413 601 303
For more information call Mr Abbott's office on ph 02 6277 7220.
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