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Celebration Grounds Site of Bioterrorism Simulation



Compiled with information from the March 30, 2004, edition of The Tennessean

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture tested the response of local, state and federal officials to a simulated act of bioterrorism at a major horse show, March 30, 2004.

The event took place in Shelbyville, Tenn., the site of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration which attracts crowds of well over 20,000 per day during the 11-day show.

“Basically, this is a way that we can test the various agencies to see how we would respond if something did happen,” Tom Womack, spokesman for the department, told The Tennessean in a recent interview.

Over 100 people, including veterinarians, police, emergency medical workers and horse owners, were expected to attend the event, which was held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. March 30, 2004, at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club on the Celebration grounds.

Womack also said that while there has been no actual threat against the walking horse industry, the planners wanted the discussion to be as real as possible, which is why Shelbyville was chosen.

“This is a table-top discussion only, there’s no field exercise. The scenario will be read and the different groups will respond with what should be done,” Womack told The Tennessean.

Womack would not comment on what agent would be used in the simulation, but he did say that it would be harmful if not deadly to horses, would cause flulike symptoms in humans and would have an immediate impact.

The Shelbyville emergency preparedness simulation is the second one of its kind that the Department of Agriculture has conducted. A similar discussion was held in 2003 on the effects of foot-and-mouth disease on Tennessee’s cattle industry, according to Womack.

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