Just as proper hygiene prevents humans from spreading germs and so helps reduce outbreaks of disease, the same principle applies to animals. Infection can be introduced by a single sick animal, by the people who handle livestock or poultry, by contaminated food, water, and surfaces, or by airborne transmission. The closer the animals are to each other, the greater the risk of an outbreak.
Biosecurity – applying microbial control technologies to remove viruses, bacteria and fungi from animals’ environment – is a most effective form of protection against such outbreaks of disease. Technologies that can be applied include antimicrobial aerial sprays and surface-based cleaners.
Why is biosecurity so important?
Viruses causing highly pathogenic disease outbreaks can wipe out livestock and poultry populations in a matter of weeks, resulting in huge losses of production and potentially financial devastation to the livestock or poultry producer.
Through protecting animals from illness, biosecurity strengthens the herd, improves its welfare, and reduces the need for antibiotics. In turn, this reduces accumulation of antibiotics in the food chain and, thereby, helps to prevent antibiotic resistance.
Furthermore, the use of microbial control technologies supports the objectives of the World Health Organization’s One Health approach: to improve the well-being through the prevention of risks and the mitigation of effects of crises that originate at the interace between humans, animals, and their various environments.
Which diseases are involved?
Among the different types of diseases encountered in the animal environment, two sectors face particular threats which can be addressed by the application of microbial control technologies:
In swine, threats include African Swine Fever (ASF), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus, Porcine Enteric Diarrhoea virus (PEDv), Salmonella and Campylobacter, all of which affect production and productivity.
In poultry, viruses causing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease, Chicken Anaemia or Gumboro are not only extremely persistent in the environment, but also immunosuppressive – which means that they increase birds’ susceptibility to additional pathogen attacks – again threatening production and productivity.