Monday, January 7, 2002

Biosecurity-An Extension of Herd Health Management and Emergency Preparedness

Biosecurity-An Extension of Herd Health Management and Emergency Preparedness
Terrorism is defined as an act of terrorizing or state of being terrorized by intimidation.
Those weapons available to terrorists for intimidation include chemicals, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive.
Biological terrorism involves the use of microorganisms or toxins derived from living organisms to induce death or disease in human beings, animals or plants.
A microorganism to be pathogenic and effective in biological terrorism against animal agriculture must be highly infectious and contagious, have the ability to survive in the environment, have predictable clinical disease pattern (including morbidity and mortality), be pathogenic to livestock and poultry, easy to acquire or produce, attributable to as if it was caused by a natural outbreak, not harmful to person causing the infection and easily spread. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is one example that meets these criteria and also poses the greatest potential threat to the cattle industry.
Biosecurity is defined as a comprehensive management program to avoid introduction of virulent (FMD) and zoonotic (a disease of animals that can be transmitted to humans-Anthrax) disease causing pathogens into a livestock herd, non-confinement and confinement, and to prevent the movement of these pathogens within the herd.
Biosecurity, as an international, worldwide practice of protecting animals from infectious diseases, has become a major concern with the worldwide threat of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
A high percentage of beef operations are managed with an open herd policy that allows entry or re-entry of animals or animal products. During calving season, foster calves may be grafted onto cows. Feedyards and stocker operations commingle cattle routinely. Seedstock operations use artificial insemination or embryo transplants throughout the breeding season. All these management practices, which have been discussed in the management section of this book, place beef operations, cow-calf, stocker, and feedlot operations at risk of disease.
To plan an effective Biosecurity Herd Health Management Program (BHHMP), a risk analysis should be conducted.
     1. Risk assessment
         Identify the level of any infectious diseases already existing, identify and prioritize     those diseases targeted for control and identify the diseases not present and you wish to continue to exclude. i.e.-Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex and Foot & Mouth Disease
     2. Risk management
         Formulate a comprehensive prevention health program and implement.
     3. Risk communication
         Explain the plan to management, personnel, suppliers and customers to ensure buy-in and implementation.
     4. Collate and analysis results frequently.
The first step is to know the complete condition of your operation- herd health, nutrition and facilities. Be aware of potential diseases, how they are contacted and the risks.
Biosecurity can be broken down into external and internal components.
     External Biosecurity: The rules and procedures implemented to avoid contamination of the herd from outside sources.
     Internal Biosecurity: The rules and procedures implemented to avoid any spread of disease within the herd.
Many of the components of a Biosecurity Herd Health Management Program are just good common sense.
Biosecurity Herd Health Management Programs (BHHMP) programs should include all management, prevention and treatment procedures. See Chart #1.
     External and Internal    1. An awareness of diseases-both domestic and foreign. See Chart #2
    2. Disease management-prevention, incubation, treatment and risks.
    3. An accurate evaluation of health and nutrition of herd.
    4. Strict herd health and vaccination programs
    5. Health, vaccination and production records of purchased animals
     Internal     1. Where possible quarantine program and separate facilities for new animals
     2. Isolation, hospital pen for sick animals
     3. Clean, sanitary cattle equipment, facilities and lots
     External     1. Ability to control human traffic-control access to property, provide disposable protective clothing and provide disinfectant for incoming visitors.
     2. Ability to control herd contacts/purchases.
     3. Regular veterinary inspection and consultation.
Biological security measures are becoming standard in many agricultural sectors. The USDA has implemented three levels for its personnel to follow to minimize the risk of disease introduction. For more detailed information go to
Biosecurity Levels
Routine levels of biosecurity measures are described below. When in doubt
as to which level of biosecurity is needed, choose the higher level. These
steps should be repeated for each premises that is visited.
Level 1- Visits to farms or ranches that entail office or home visits only.
        No contact with livestock or their housing (including pet horse or work dog).
        Use the minimum measures such as:
        Minimum Biosecurity Measures
        1. Avoid livestock areas, pens, barns, etc., unless it is necessary to complete the goal of the visit.
        2. Park your vehicle on paved or concrete areas, away from production sites on farm, to avoid contact with dirt, mud or manure. If not possible, be certain that tires are free of dirt and debris by hosing the tires and wheel wells before leaving the premises. If this does not clean the tires adequately, take the vehicle to a nearby pressure car wash.
        3. Wash hands with soap and water or an antibacterial gel before entering and after leaving the premises to avoid transmitting disease agents from person to person.
Level 2- Visits to farms or ranches where minimal contact with livestock or
their housing (barns, pens, hutches, etc) is unavoidable to attain the goal of the visit,
 i.e. property appraisals, tour of production facilities.
Contact constitutes walking through animal housing or pastures where the animals are not within reach.
        1. Apply minimum biosecurity measures plus:
        2. Immediately put on clean rubber or new plastic boots upon exiting the vehicle.
        3. After returning to your vehicle, clean and disinfect any equipment used with a brush and approved EPA disinfectant solution (see listed supplies- Chart 3).
        4. Clean rubber boots with an approved EPA disinfectant diluted with water.
            Scrub the bottoms of the boots with a brush to remove all dirt or debris.
        5.  Dispose of disinfectant solution according to the label. Unused
      disinfectant solution should not be discarded on ground.
        6. If wearing plastic boots, place them in a plastic bag that should be left on the premises for the owner/producer for disposal or place in a designated dirty' area of your vehicle.
Level 3- Visits to farms/ranches where there will be close contact
livestock. This includes contact such as walking through narrowly confined pens/ lots where animals are within reach or actually handling/inspecting the animals.
        1. Apply measures used in Levels 1 & 2 plus:
        2. Pre-plan the needed supplies and clothing for daily visits.
        3. Use a pair of clean coveralls for each premises.
        4. Designate a 'dirty' area in your vehicle for clothing and equipment that
       has been used on the farm.
        5.  Put on clean coveralls and rubber boots immediately upon exiting the
        6. After returning to your vehicle, clean and disinfect all equipment used
       (including eyewear) and place all disposable supplies in a plastic bag to
        leave with the owner/producer for disposal. If not possible, place plastic
       bag in the 'dirty' area of the vehicle and dispose of in a manner that
       prevents exposure to other livestock.
        7. Clean rubber boots with an approved EPA disinfectant diluted with water.
        8. Scrub the bottoms of the boots with a brush to remove all dirt or debris.
        9. Dispose of disinfectant solution according to the label. Unused disinfectant
       solution should not be discarded on ground.
        10. Remove coveralls so that they are inside out and place in a garbage bag.
        11. Place the clean equipment and boots in the designated 'clean' area of the
        12. If the vehicle was not parked on a paved surface, wash vehicle tires and
       wheel wells to remove dirt and debris at a nearby pressure car wash.
        13. At the end of the day, dispose of all plastic bags that contain dirty supplies in a manner that prevents exposure to other livestock. Launder all coveralls.
        14. Personal hygiene should include shampooing hair and cleaning under fingernails.
Gempler’s, Inc describes a biosecurity program as an insurance policy for the health and productivity of the herd. It will not be free. Producers must make decisions about their "risk tolerance level" based on the chances of a disease occurring and the expected economic losses from the disease.
There must be planning, commitment and education of all personnel throughout the operation to attain the goals set for an effective Biosecurity Herd Health Management Program (BHHMP).

The components of a biosecurity program are all good management practices that will optimize beef production, increase the profitability and ensure a safe food supply.
The ultimate fate of our industry is on the line, and collective anti-terrorism actions must be a top objective for all in the industry.
Resources for biosecurity information can be assessed at: Purdue University. This site offers a list of peer-reviewed biosecurity references, disinfectant information, and state regulations involving dead animal disposal, reportable diseases and nutrient management. Gempler’s Inc Humanitarian Resource Instiute National Cattleman’s Beef Association The Drovers Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services American Veterinary Medical Association For government information