Monday, December 11, 2023

Rethink biosecurity

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By Drs. Sally L. Noll

& Carol J. Cardona

Special to Poultry Times

St. PAUL, Minn. — Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Minnesota and the Midwest brought terrible losses to commercial poultry farms in 2015 and 2016. HPAI represents a change in what avian producers had come to expect, given that spring introductions of avian influenza are generally rare. While experts continue to research how the introduction and spread of HPAI occurs, biosecurity is key to preventing or lessening the extent of possible introduction of the virus.

The foundational blocks of biosecurity are:

  • isolation,
  • control of movement,
  • sanitation, and
  • cleaning and disinfection.

Identified risks are usually associated with virus contaminated people, equipment or wild bird contact — direct or indirect. With introductions into single barns on multi-barn sites, the emphasis on biosecurity needs to focus on the barn. A line of separation is needed around each barn in addition to the area of separation for the farm unit. One should always assume that the area surrounding the barn is contaminated and avoid bringing outside contamination inside the barn. One of the most basic aspects of barn level biosecurity is secure entry of people and equipment to the barn.

Did you know?

A survey of poultry farms by Racicot and co-workers, 2011, 2012 using video and audits to track compliance revealed:

1. Few facilities were found to have barn entry protocols posted.

2. Farm personnel barn entry protocols were not as rigorous as protocols for visitors.

3. While most farms utilized some inside/outside separation at the barn entry level such as footwear change and/or use of disposable boots, few took additional precautions such as washing hands and changing to barn specific clothing.

4. Entry protocols tended to be followed less closely for short visits.

5. Protocol entry compliance was influenced by designation of dirty and clean areas at the entry. Compliance was less if there was not a physical separation of the clean and dirty areas.

6. Some unidentified individuals were video-taped in the barns.

7. A majority of biosecurity errors involved cross-contamination of areas designated as clean (barn) and contaminated (outside) at the time of entry.

The swine industry has moved to an entry system called the Danish Entry to overcome challenges with PRRS and PEDv. The keys to the Danish entry system are:

  • a biosecure entrance to the farm,
  • the entrance area has separate clean and dirty areas,
  • upon entry in the “dirty” area:

— people remove their outer clothing and footwear,

— wash and disinfect hands,

— move to a clean area where clean protective clothing, such as boots and coveralls, are provided (boots should be put on before coveralls).

  • The protocol is completed in reverse when exiting the building.

Do any of these biosecurity breaks sound familiar to you?

  • I am only going to spend a few minutes in the barn so I don’t need to put on barn specific clothing..
  • I have an emergency and need to fix a fan, feed line etc. and the tools are in the other barn. I will just run over there quickly and bring them back.
  • I skipped putting on boots, coveralls, and/or using hand sanitizer because the supplies were not available.
  • I don’t want to give up my lucky ball cap. It goes with me everywhere.
  • The door to the barn is locked and I have an armful of supplies and can’t unlock the door. So I put the boxes on the ground and then unlock the door.
  • I leave the entryway door open for convenience while I’m working in the barn.
  • I was hunting and decided to stop by the farm and see how the flock was doing.
  • I’ll set the dead birds outside the door and deal with them later.
  • Smith is going to work for me over the weekend. Ummm…I think they know the biosecurity protocols?

Avoiding biosecurity errors – Barn Entry

  • Post barn entry/exit protocols that provides for a line of separation from contaminated areas (i.e., outside) to clean areas (barn).
  • Provide barn specific clothing, supplies and equipment to minimize traffic between barns and other areas of the farm.
  • Clean and disinfect anything that enters the barn.
  • Review protocols with farm staff and get input from staff and others on how to improve.

Dr. Sally L. Noll is a professor and Extension animal scientist in the Department of Animal Health and Dr. Carol J. Cardona holds the Ben Pomeroy Endowed Chair in Avian Medicine in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, both with the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.

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