USDA is sending four vet specialists to Rome, Italy, to help the UN's Food and Ag Organization (FAO) launch a new crisis management center aimed at bolstering worldwide response to animal disease. The Center was to begin operations by the end of this month at the FAO headquarters in Rome.

The FAO-run Crisis Management Center will work closely with the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) to provide animal-disease analysis and info, and deploy international resources to prevent and contain dangerous animal diseases, a USDA release says. The immediate focus will be on avian influenza.

The U.S. is providing $1.8 million to FAO to create the Center. Other contributors include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.
-- Joe Roybal