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Exercise Odysseus

Animal Health Australia (AHA) was a key partner in Exercise Odysseus, a national livestock standstill to stop foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in its tracks.

Exercise Odysseus tested Australia’s ability to stop the movement of all susceptible livestock (sheep, cattle and pigs) in the event of an FMD outbreak or even strong suspicion of FMD.

It’s important to stop FMD in its tracks

A 2013 report by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) showed that an outbreak of FMD in Australia could cost the economy up to $52 billion over 10 years.

A critical way to help control the spread of FMD is to stop the movement of susceptible livestock throughout Australia for an initial period of 72 hours, when the disease is first recognised.

A national livestock standstill will allow time to investigate the origins and extent of the outbreak and to prevent further spread, while other control measures are put in place.

AHA worked with government agencies and livestock and associated industries to oversee the planning, conduct and evaluation of Exercise Odysseus activities in each Australian state and territory throughout 2014 and early 2015.

AHA representatives played a key role in the Exercise Odysseus planning team, steering committee and working groups. AHA also coordinated the participation of the national emergency animal disease Rapid Response Team (RRT) in many Exercise Odysseus activities.

Exercise Odysseus was a series of more than 40 simulated field activities and discussions designed to focus on the first week of a hypothetical FMD disease outbreak scenario, initially detected in Queensland. Exercise Odysseus aimed to assess:

  • national, jurisdictional and industry arrangements for implementing and managing a livestock standstill
  • national, jurisdictional and industry decision-making processes in declaring and implementing a national livestock standstill
  • mechanisms for communicating a national livestock standstill and their effectiveness
  • coordination within and between government and non-government agencies and industry, prior to and during a national livestock standstill.

Do you know what to do in the event of a national livestock standstill?

Complete the national livestock standstill quiz developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.

Exercise Odysseus media releases and coverage

Access Minister Joyce’s media statement—Stopping one hundred million animals in their tracks to combat disease.

Related links


Page reviewed: 28/09/2017