How to keep yourself, your animals, your investment, and your food supply safe
Proper biosecurity is important to minimize the risk of spreading infectious diseases between animals and humans. Diseases can be spread in many ways, including through physical contact, by contamination of inanimate objects (clothing, boots, vehicles, equipment, etc.), through inhalation of the disease agent in aerosolized droplets, and by consumption of contaminated food or water.
The basics of biosecurity include:
- Controlling access to animals and farms
- Protective wear
- Isolation on introduction
Individual precautions you can take:
Wash your hands, especially after handling animals, cleaning and disinfecting, and before eating – it can protect you from infectious agents and harmful chemicals.
Wear protective footwear (rubber boots, disposable foot coverings), and either change or disinfect footwear between groups of animals.
Wear disposable or clean cloth coveralls, and change or wash them before contacting separate groups of animals.
Park your vehicle in a clean area on your own farm or when visiting farms.
Talk to your doctor if you are sick, especially if you have been around a sick animal.
Animal and herd precautions:
Isolate new animals off the farm or in a well-segregated area for 30 days. Make sure no equipment is shared between these animals and non-isolated animals.
Isolate sick animals, and speak to your veterinarian about when these animals are safe to add back to the herd. Sick pens should not be in close proximity to the calving area.
Know the health status of source herds you are receiving animals from, including their vaccination history; consider testing new and returning animals for diseases.
Require that visitors to your farm wear protective footwear and coveralls.
Know, and follow, what regulations apply to you for the movement of your animals.
Load and unload your own animals when possible.
Wash your truck and trailer, clean and disinfect boots and equipment, and change outer clothing before going home.
If haulers come to you, provide a separate loading area for them. Require that equipment brought onto the farm is clean, and that haulers put on clean footwear or coverings.
When away from your home farm with animals, minimize direct contact with other animals, manure, and do not share any equipment.
Do not eat or store human food around animals.
After bringing your animals back to your farm, isolate them for 21 days and watch for signs of illness.
Cleaning and disinfection:
Thorough disinfection of surfaces and equipment is a 2-step process: clean first, and then disinfect.
Most disinfectants are useless in the presence of organic matter (dirt, dust, manure, etc.).
First, remove all visible debris – scrub with soap (detergent) and water. Avoid power washing prior to cleaning to prevent aerosolization of particles and germs.
Thoroughly rinse the area, allow it to drain, and wait for it to air dry if possible.
Soak all surfaces with disinfectant. Each disinfectant requires a certain amount of contact time to be effective. Contact time will need to be longer in cold temperatures.
Smooth, nonporous surfaces are the easiest to disinfect. Porous materials (such as wood) and rough surfaces (such as concrete) will not be as effectively disinfected.
While cleaning and disinfecting, be sure to wash hands and other exposed skin to remove potentially harmful chemicals. Wear proper personal protective equipment, especially in the presence of a known infectious agent and/or harsh chemicals.
The right cleaning and disinfection agents will vary depending on the pathogen in question – different chemicals will kill different things.
It is important to keep in mind the type of chemical you are using; sanitizers are used on skin and disinfectants are used on surfaces.
Every farm is different. Work with your veterinarian to develop the most effective cleaning and disinfection protocol for you.
Review your protocols to ensure they are being followed and update them as needed.
Include quality control measures, such as testing for the organism(s) of concern, to determine the effectiveness of your program and to demonstrate progress.