Simple Hygien Measures for Animal and Human Health

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Biosecurity are measures to avoid or stop the spreading of diseases between animals and the avoid mutation to diseases that might affect humans. Making these 12 tips part of your daily routine could make the difference between health and disease.
A good biosecurity strategy can also help you improve your job satisfaction, productivity and efficiency, with resulting economic gains. You are also protecting your neighbours’ farms (and they are doing the same for you) and the countryside as a whole. In this way, better biosecurity gives you peace of mind, healthy stock and a more viable business.

Visitors: please leave diseases at the door

People can host and carry agents, which may be spread to animals via their footwear or clothing, for example. This applies to you and your family when returning home from the outside world. But visitors may be a bigger problem. Any contact with your animals should be minimised. Highlight and explain to them your concerns for disease prevention so that they follow your measures and implement good hygiene practices. What's more, don't forget that dogs and cats can also spread diseases.

Cleaning and disinfecting: the devil is in the detail

Diseases can spread between animals or holdings indirectly through people via their clothes, footwear or hands. People should wear clean overalls and footwear when entering the farm. Protective clothing and footwear should be removed and either cleansed and laundered or disposed of after use. Hand washing with soap is of course a Must, before and after any contact with animals.

Wildlife and farm animals: they don’t mix

Wild birds and animals can spread disease to farm animals by carrying infectious agents, for example on their feet or within their digestive system. Rodent droppings can contaminate feed, while insects may spread disease to other animals. For these reasons, it is best to minimise contact between wildlife and farm animals, to implement effective pest and insect control programmes and to protect your feed from any possible contamination. Special care should be given with hunted wild animals, as they can carry diseases: avoid contact with their blood for example. Use gloves and wash hands, cook well and dispose raw waste properly.

Feed and water: key ingredients of disease prevention

Feed, feeding systems and nutrition should be a part of biosecurity planning. The most common means of contaminating feed or feeding areas is by on-farm equipment used for handling manure. Avoid handling feed with the same equipment used to handle manure. In addition, the quality of the water used, the cleanliness of the water delivery systems and how your feed is stored are important ingredients for disease prevention.

Transport: don't drive diseases around

Transporting animals can spread both animal and zoonotic diseases, so make sure that when you are moving your animals, they travel with animals with a similar health status, avoid mixing unknown animals and prevent against leakages from the vehicle. It is also important to apply biosecurity measures even when animals have been removed from the premises, as disease-causing agents and their vectors can persist after the animals have left:

Cleaning your equipment and vehicles

You can reduce the spread of disease by ensuring that your premises and surroundings of your farm are tidy, clean and sanitised. This will also help to avoid wild birds and animals from being attracted onto the site and entering buildings and stores. Equipment (including that for water and feeding) should always be well-maintained and clean. In addition, vehicles – including personal cars of owners and visitors – can spread contaminated material on their tyres. It is for this reason that in the event of a disease outbreak, all vehicles entering or leaving your premises should be cleansed and disinfected thoroughly.

Farmers and vets: partners in disease prevention

Forming a good veterinarian–farmer partnership will allow you to be more efficient: regular herd health planning enables correct or poor performance to be identified, allowing you to improve the health and welfare status of your animals. Veterinarians are there to support and advise you. Working together should enable a quick response to any problems, which can help prevent a large-scale outbreak.

Sick animals: report them early

Some diseases can spread very quickly so early detection and reporting of sick animals is essential to prevent large-scale disease outbreaks. Always be vigilant: look out for signs of disease in your animals and if you suspect a disease, seperate it from the group and ask your veterinarian or extension worker for advice as soon as possible. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Medicines: use them wisely

Veterinary medicines such as antibiotics, wormers (anthelmintics), and ectoparasiticides can be life-savers for your animals but they need to be used in a responsible way. Do remember to log your medicines use and to respect the withdrawal periods. If you see an adverse reaction, inform your veterinarian. In addition, vaccination could be an effective method of prevention against certain diseases, allowing the production of safe food.

Take care of your animals and they will take care of you

Animals are sentient beings and their welfare and health are strictly linked. The way in which animals are bred, raised and kept, how new animals are introduced into the herd and how sick animals are treated can all have a significant impact on biosecurity. Proper management and good housing conditions are essential tools to keep your animals healthy and happy.

Identification and registration: traceability helps disease control

Good record-keeping includes proper identification and registration of animals. This is compulsory under EU legislation and enables them to be localised and traced for veterinary purposes, which is of crucial importance for the control of infectious diseases. In the event of a disease outbreak, the precise location of all livestock is essential for effective measures to control and eradicate highly contagious viruses. Similarly, should an outbreak occur, it would be really helpful to know who has been on your farm. This could be done by keeping a record of your visitors and the dates of their visits rather than relying solely on your memory.

Animals + Humans = One health

Humans have always co-habited with animals, and this bond has provided us with a great number of benefits. However, it is not without its risks; many of the current emerging diseases are zoonoses – i.e. they affect both animals and humans. Ensuring that these diseases never occur may not be a completely realistic objective, but with the right efforts and attitude, we will be able to go a long way in obtaining the highest level of health and welfare for both animals and humans.