Biosecurity Risk Assessment for Farm Visitors and Exhibitions
Everyone from animal producers through consumers of animal products have a vested interest in promoting sound biosecurity practices on farms. Visitors and agricultural service personnel should be proactive and to ensure their actions do not jeopardize biosecurity of farms they visit or service. Animal exhibitions are important venues for educating the public regarding livestock. Animals that return to the farm following shows or sales could be a source for bringing infectious agents onto a farm.
How is biosecurity risk recognized?
Risk of introducing infectious disease is complex in animal agriculture systems. Risk is determined by the relative pathogen (infectious organism) prevalence of the in the herd, number of susceptible animals, and likelihood that new infections will be established. Disease risk classification is based on such diverse factors as pathogen virulence, environment, geographic distribution, economic impact, population dynamics, different animal species interactions, and susceptibility of individuals, strains, or lines. Animal diseases have been placed in four risk groups. (1) Unlikely to spread, cause mild and usually enzootic (always present at some level in the population). Normally no official control programs. (2)Limited spread,moderate disease,enzootic and may be part of a control program. (3)Can spread rapidly, causes serious disease, may be enzootic or exotic (foreign animal disease-not in the US). Control programs in place, and treatment and prevention usually available. (4)Can spread very rapidly, causes severe disease, enzootic or exotic, strict control programs in place. Treatment and prevention are difficult or not effective. Domestic diseases that are of most concern under normal circumstances areinlevel2and3. Biosecurity level(5)is a special category employed by USDA personnel when very severe level 4 exotic diseases are encountered.
What are the likely causes for disease spread?
New animals entering a herd or flock or direct contact with infected animals are the most likely ways to introduce disease. Animals, animal products, or animal secretions most often spread infectious diseases. Therefore, biosecurity programs should always include strict risk assessment protocols for herd additions or contact with animals. Animals returning from exhibitions or contact between people and animals at exhibitions can also be a biosecurity concern. People can transport infectious diseases on their clothes and on occasion on their skin or mucous membranes. Ag service personnel can also present biosecurity concerns if equipment or products are carried from farm to farm without proper precautions.
How can I tell if I am a risk or if my herd is at risk?
Veterinary Extension at Penn State has developed several risk assessment forms that allow interested and concerned individuals to judge how risky their actions may be for spreading organisms of biosecurity concern. Extension personnel are encouraging all producers and the public to take biosecurity seriously and help make our herds and flocks safer, reduce animal suffering, help to continue to increase the quality of animal agriculture products, and improve the sustainability as well as the profitability of our farms. An example of a risk assessment form is shown below. For additional information on biosecurity or risk assessment please contact any member of Veterinary Extension or visit our website.
|Risk Concern||Low Risk||Moderate Risk||High Risk|
|Number of farm visits per day||One farm, little or no animal contact.||Occasionally visits more than one farm per day. Minimal animal contact.||Visits many farms or auctions. Much animal contact.|
|Protective Clothing||Wears sanitized shoes or boots. One pair of coveralls per site.||Wears sanitized boots and clean coveralls. If clean may not change coveralls.||Does not wear protective clothing, or the same clothing between farms.|
|Leaves materials or borrows supplies||Materials and supplies away from animal or feed areas.||Materials and supplies in areas of minimal animal or feed contact areas.||Materials and supplies may be left in animal or feed contact areas.|
|Animal ownership||Does not own similar species at home.||Similar species but a different production type.||Owns and/or cares for a similar species and production type at home.|
|Contact with potentially infected animals||Minimal or no contact with potentially infected animals.||Contact with healthy animals and avoids contact with potentially infected animals.||May own or be exposed to many animals of unknown health status.|
|Work in animal contact areas||Does not work in areas with highly susceptible animals.||Minimal exposure to high risk animals and only with protective clothing.||Works with highly susceptible animals. Little precautions.|
|Biosecurity knowledge||Understands and promotes biosecurity for industry.||Exposed to biosecurity principles but is not an advocate.||Little appreciation for biosecurity and does not view it as an industry issue.|
|Foreign Travel||Does not travel out of the US or Canada.||Limited travel outside of US or Canada without animal contact.||Travel to foreign countries with animal contact in those countries.|
|Foreign Visitors||Prohibits foreign visitor contact with animals or feeds.||Foreign visitors may be in animal or feed areas after adequate quarantine.||Visitors are permitted in animal or feed contact areas without screening or quarantine.|
|Risk Concern||Low Risk||Moderate Risk||High Risk|
|Purchased animals||Screening test + quarantine for 30 days after purchase.||Minimal screening, quarantine >15 but <30 days.||Little or no screening and no quarantine or <15 days.|
|Protective outer clothing||Clothing and boots worn on home farm and not worn to different farms or animal events.||Clean clothing and disposable boots or sanitized boots.||Clothing or boots worn on home farm and also worn to different animal events.|
|Immunizations||Timely, comprehensive plan coordinated with veterinarian.||Immunization based on show regulations but not necessarily part of total plan.||Haphazard immunization plan that is not coordinated nor professionally supervised.|
|Animal transportation||Haul own animals only in your trailer or truck.||Haul animals in another’s truck or trailer that has been cleaned or sanitized.||Haul animals in another’s truck or trailer without sanitation.|
|Equipment at exhibition or sale||Only use grooming, feeding or watering equipment for your animals.||Clean equipment before sharing.||Equipment shared without cleaning or sanitation.|
|Contact of public with your animals||Prohibit people from petting and feeding of your animals.||Allow petting but discourage people from feeding your animals.||Allow public to pet and/or feed animals.|
|Isolation after exhibition||Isolate for 15 days after exhibition.||Isolate for >7 days but <15 days after exhibition.||Isolate for <7 days after exhibition.|
Prepared by Drs. Lawrence Hutchinson, Bhushan Jayarao, Robert Van Saun, David Wolfgang, Penn State.