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Ag Department Simulation Prompts False Alarm Tweets

An animal disease simulation exercise in central Kansas this week apparently prompted some Twitter users to question whether a real disease outbreak had been detected.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management said it was notified of some social media posts Wednesday warning about a possible animal disease outbreak in Kansas. It appears the tweets were prompted by a Kansas Department of Agriculture simulation testing how state officials would respond to the detection of foot and mouth disease.

Mary Soukup, with the Department of Agriculture, said the exercise will help officials develop better response strategies for a variety of emergencies.

“It could be implemented for an animal incident, it could be implemented for a plant incident or a food incident, and those are all areas we would be involved with in emergency response,” Soukup said.

The two-day exercise involves staff from several state agencies and industry organizations. Federal officials had been slated to take part in the drill, but were not able to participate because of the government shutdown.