Animal biosecurity refers to the actions and measures taken to prevent disease being introduced through animals into a specific geographical area or region. This form of biosecurity combines various different methods of prevention and disease containment.
One critical element in animal biosecurity is biocontainment which aims to ensure the control and confinement of disease in a particular area so that further spread is prevented.
In animal biosecurity, the epidemiological triad for the occurrence of disease needs to be considered, which includes the roles of the following in contributing to the development of disease:
The individual host animal
The disease itself
In the context of livestock, animal biosecurity refers to the measures taken to keep pathogens from infecting populations, herds, or groups of animals where they do not yet exist. The herd owner is usually responsible for protecting against the introduction of any new pathogens among the herd as well as limiting the spread of any existing disease.
Several examples of measures that should be included in a successful animal biosecurity plan are:
Isolation of new animals
New animals brought to the farm should be isolated from existing groups of animals to prevent the spread of new, external infections. These animals should be isolated form the herd for a minimum of two weeks and preferably one month. The isolation facility should be at least several hundred yards from the herd and be positioned so that any drainage or wind does not carry contaminants back towards the herd. If complete isolation is impossible, a separate pen should be used to prevent nose-to-nose contact and the sharing of food or water supplies with existing animals. All new animals must be tested before being mixed with existing ones.
Managing risk posed by visitors
Disease can also be introduced to the herd by people travelling between groups of animals and visitors are an important consideration.
Low risk visitors would be people from urban areas who have had no contact with livestock and are very unlikely to carry disease. Visitors should be asked to wear freshly laundered clothes and clean footwear but disposable plastic boots and coveralls may be provided for added protection.
Moderate-risk visitors would include those who visit farms regularly but have little or no contact with animals such as delivery personnel or mechanics. These individuals are also advised to wear clean clothes and disposable coveralls and boots. They should also clean and disinfect any equipment used.
High-risk visitors include veterinarians, livestock haulers, livestock owners and others who are in close contact with livestock. Disposable sleeves, boots, coveralls, gloves and other disposable or disinfectable clothing is a must.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc