FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Veterinarians take virtual training to fight transboundary animal diseases

©FAO/Riccardo De Luca


Several transboundary animal diseases are controlled with a “stamping out” policy, which consists of depopulation of the diseased animals, disposal of the infected carcasses and materials, followed by cleaning and disinfection of the affected farm. Veterinarians supervising or carrying out this task need a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods to plan and carry out this procedure efficiently, while ensuring that animal welfare requirements and strict personal biosecurity are maintained.

To support veterinarians in the region, the FAO Virtual Learning Center (VLC) for Europe and Central Asia has delivered a virtual learning course on stamping out in an English language version and a Russian language version for countries in the Europe and Central Asia region.

Online training offers some significant advantages as compared to conventional face-to-face training. “Several countries approached us during outbreaks to provide them with knowledge on how to carry out stamping out of African swine fever or highly pathogenic Avian Influenza” said Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo, FAO technical advisor on animal health. He pointed out that having a virtual training on this topic is a great complement to existing courses on various transboundary animal diseases.

About the course

The 4-week course is for self-paced study and has three units. The first part focuses on depopulation, providing an overview of recommended methods, discussing their advantages and disadvantages through three interactive modules. The study material and operational procedures were created in collaboration with The Humane Slaughter Association. The second part provides a deeper understanding of carcass management. It considers both on-farm and off-farm methods for disposal, discussing their advantages and disadvantages in four modules. The third part provides a thorough grounding of cleaning and disinfection procedures. The training also provides virtual practice sessions where participants are presented with an outbreak scenario. Within groups, the students must discuss the situation and then develop and present a plan on how they would plan the depopulation, disposal and cleaning and disinfection of the farm.

The course was delivered in English from November to December 2022, with 89 participants from 21 European countries. Ninety-eight percent of the participants who completed expressed being ''highly satisfied'' or ''satisfied'' with the course and considered it to be highly relevant to their current jobs. Later, the course was delivered in Russian from May to June 2023, with 150 participants from 14 countries.

“One of the main advantages of the course is that we were able to reach out to several veterinarians working for their national competent authorities who did not have any experience on how to plan and carry out stamping out” said Mark Hovari, Animal Health Preparedness expert. “The virtual practice sessions were very beneficial for participants who wanted to test their knowledge learnt during the course,” he added.

The course opens with a live interactive webinar, where trainees meet their trainers and are introduced to the course. Trainees then progress through several interactive modules, enriched with photographs, exercises, and self-evaluation questions. During the course, trainers and international experts are available through a discussion forum to answer questions and to lead discussions. A very comprehensive library with a selection of additional videos and further reading is also provided. Towards the end of the course participants apply for one of the virtual practice sessions offered in which they plan how they would carry out the stamping out of a farm. There is a final course assessment consisting of 40 multiple choice questions. Participants who successfully complete the course receive a certificate. There is a feedback section where participants can rate the course content and provide suggestions for improvement.

About the FAO VLCs

The FAO Virtual Learning Centers are virtual hubs that have been conceived as a mechanism to improve regional delivery of online training and to convey the competencies required to organize and deliver online training to FAO regional and subregional offices. Their mission is to provide trainees with access to inclusive, engaging, and high-quality training using a variety of methodologies such as online tutored courses, blended learning, technical webinars, and mobile learning. Through the use of communication technology and instructional design, the VLCs develop courses that readily respond to regional needs and priorities and fill knowledge gaps identified in a variety of topics.


20 June 2023, Budapest, Hungary