NAVEEN Z*, ZUBAIR VALI P and SUDHEER K
Department of Livestock Products Technology
Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University, TIRUPATI. Andhra Pradesh – 51502.
Biosecurity refers to programs intended to protect human, animal or even plant life. Biosecurity can be defined as a practice or set of programs that will limit or prevent the introduction and spread of diseases and prevent the contamination of production facilities. European Economic Community [EEC] initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of transmission of highly pathogenic diseases. Biosecurity procedures include documentation and training, operational standards for facility, personnel etc. Free range production and High risk Biosecurity operations were discussed.
Biosecurity refers to those measures taken to prevent or control the introduction and spread of infectious agents to a flock. Such infectious agents, whether they cause clinical or subclinical disease, significantly reduce the productivity, profitability and long term financial viability of a poultry operation. Biosecurity is about managing risk to meet the objectives stated above. It is essential that a risk assessment be conducted for each enterprise to establish what level of risk exists in each phase of its operations and to identify and implement control measures appropriate to these levels of risk.
FREE-RANGE PRODUCTION OPERATIONS
This applies to caged, barn and free-range operations. It is recognised that free-range birds will potentially have increased exposure to some avian pathogens. Diseases such as internal and external parasites, fowl cholera and Miliary Hepatitis (Spotty Liver) are more commonly recognised in laying poultry farmed under extensive conditions. While it is difficult to apply standard hygiene practices to free-range areas the basic biosecurity principles of preventing the introduction of disease by controlling movement of livestock, equipment and personnel still apply. The use of enhanced vaccination programs and strategic prophylactic medications are a useful tool to limit disease build up on free-range operations. Increased exposure to wild birds is considered a biosecurity risk and most importantly to waterfowl, particularly wild ducks belonging to the Order Anseriformes (includes the Wood duck, Chestnut Teal, Freckled duck, Black duck and Whistling duck). It is important for the free-range area not to have environmental and amenity factors that attract congregations of large numbers of wild birds or surface water for ducks. Wild water fowl surveillance identifies that most ducks have at some stage been exposed to avian influenza (AI) and more importantly at any one time a small percentage of these are shedding virus in their faeces that can contaminate surface water and pastures. Some AI of the H5 and H7 subtypes which have in the past caused EAD outbreaks in the egg industry. In all cases there was evidence of an association between wild ducks and contamination of drinking and/or cooling water or direct physical contact. Control programs that reduce and eliminate the presence of wild waterfowl on free-range areas should be a priority consideration for all free-range operators. This will involve the absence, or elimination, of water catchments and other surface water within and in the vicinity of the free-range area, the netting of retention dams, the destruction of wild water fowl where and when legislation permits and the use of aversion programs. Good fencing is required around free range farms to prevent entry of animals such as foxes. In many situations, however, fencing alone is insufficient to stop such intrusions; therefore, some free-range enterprises keep specially trained dogs or guard animals such as alpacas with the chickens to reduce predation by foxes and birds of prey.
HIGH RISK BIOSECURITY OPERATIONS
Objective: To enhance biosecurity protection by strategically assessing movements to protect the property from the increased threat of a disease being introduced from the outside in the face of a suspected outbreak of an emergency disease or a serious endemic disease.
- Action plan for suspected Emergency Animal Disease [EAD] : It is imperative for all egg producers and handlers to be aware that there is potential for an EAD to occur at any time and thus producers must be proactive at ALL times to ensure biosecurity procedures are in place that will prohibit the entry into the poultry operation of an emergency or serious endemic disease. For an EAD, the level of biosecurity at all times must be optimal because the infection will occur before clinical signs are observed and thus there will be a period of potential “silent” spread prior to any industry awareness of the EAD. This is an important concept for all horizontal contacts (egg producers, transporters, clean out and vaccination crews) who are potential spreaders of an EAD while not aware of its presence. The preventive activity level to should be of high awareness at all times and not just during a suspect EAD or after an outbreak notification.
- Each producer must establish and document clear guidelines regarding the circumstances when an EAD alert should be raised (e.g. an unusual increase in mortality or drop in production), and who must be informed. The action plan must also clearly state that, if an alert is raised, movement of birds, eggs and egg products, disposables, equipment and personnel from (and onto) the suspect property must immediately cease and/or be strictly controlled. For other farms and properties which are close horizontal contacts, movements must have a risk-based assessment.
- The frequency of monitoring of mortality and production variations is to be increased and enhanced across the operation including in contact properties.
- Senior management or the operation’s veterinarian must be immediately notified who will assess the situation to consider or rule out an EAD. The directions given regarding biosecurity, livestock and product movements must be strictly followed and all other relevant personnel made aware of them.
- In the event of a suspect EAD being notified the state Chief Veterinary Officer becomes the responsible entity with the legislative authority to implement livestock movement controls and enforced quarantine.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) : SOPs will be available for any specific outbreak of an EAD from Animal Health.
- Documentation and training
Objective: To ensure awareness and training of all production area employees in all relevant biosecurity requirements.
- Each production facility must keep a copy of the Manual readily accessible to staff.
- Staff must be provided with training in the relevant parts of the Manual and such training is to be recorded.
- Facility operational standards
Objective: To limit and control access to poultry production areas by vehicles and people, and prevent as much as possible access by livestock, wild birds and other animals (including rodents).
- The production area must have a perimeter fence establishing a clearly defined biosecurity zone.
- If livestock graze the property then the production area must have a stock proof fence. Grazing near sheds (i.e. on part of the production area as defined in this Manual) is only permitted where the grazing area is separated by a stock proof barrier from the area used by poultry, effectively preventing transmission of contaminants from grazing livestock to poultry, and the grazing area is not used for access to other parts of the production area. Drainage from livestock pastures or holding areas must not enter poultry enclosures or areas that can be accessed by poultry (e.g. through fences). In free-range egg operations where either dogs or alpacas are used to protect fowl in the range area from attack by foxes, feral dogs or birds of prey, these guard animals should be tested for freedom from salmonella by faecal microbiological culture prior to introduction and ideally re-tested annually.
- A sketch or map of the layout of the property, showing the production area, sheds, ranges, access roads and gates must be created and maintained and kept current. This must be readily accessible to all staff and visitors.
- The main entrance to the production area must be capable of being closed off to vehicle traffic (e.g. lockable gate which, where feasible, should be kept locked at all times) and must display appropriate signage including “Biosecure Area – No Entry Unless Authorised” or similar wording. In addition, signage must direct visitors to contact the producer before proceeding i.e. telephone number and/or enquire at house.
- There must be a parking area for vehicles not entering the production area. There must be a change area away from sheds with clean protective clothing and boots provided. Showering and changing into clean protective farm clothing is preferable, particularly for pullets that are susceptible to endemic poultry diseases until they have completed their vaccination program.
- Entry to sheds must only be made through entrances where a footbath exists containing a suitable disinfectant used in accordance with company or manufacturer’s instructions and changed regularly before the disinfectant deteriorates and loses effectiveness. There must be provision for scraping the soles of boots before dipping to ensure the sanitiser is making contact with the soles of the boots. Facilities for hand washing/ sanitation must also be placed at the entry of each shed. In free-range operations similar foot bath procedures should apply for access to the production area to avoid the possible introduction of offsite pathogens. While footbaths provide a degree of security in regard to the incursion of pathogens into the production area it is preferable to have the policy that requires a change of footwear at the boundary of the shed/range area. Each shed/ production facility should have its own footwear to change into.
- Dead bird storage and disposal methods must conform to applicable hygienic containment and environmental compliance requirements.
- All poultry housing must be designed and maintained so as to prevent the entry of wild birds and limit the access of vermin as far as is practical. The control of wild birds has limitations in free-range operations.
- Free-range landscape – trees, shrubs and other range amenities should be selected to minimise the risk of attracting the types of wild birds that are a high biosecurity risk, particularly in free-range operations. The area around sheds must be kept free from debris and vegetation, and should be mown regularly to discourage wild birds, insects and rodents which are potential disease vectors. Vegetation buffers for environmental compliance should not be compromised. Trees may be used as shelter belts, along fence lines and on free-range premises to provide shade and provide poultry with some protection from unfavourable ambient conditions and flying predators.
- Drainage – The production area should be adequately drained to prevent accumulation and stagnation of water likely to attract water fowl, especially in the areas around sheds and range areas. Standing water may also increase the presence of insects which can act as significant disease vectors. A range management plan should be implemented to manage pot-holes or water pooling after heavy rain falls.
- An appropriate vermin control strategy and plan must be developed and implemented, including rodents, foxes, and wild dogs and cats.
- A baiting program for rodents must be implemented where a risk assessment deems this necessary (live rodents, droppings, nests).
- Drinking water for poultry, as well as cooling water (fogging or cooling pads) used in poultry sheds, must meet appropriate water standards. Water that does not meet the standard must be effectively treated to ensure that the standard is met. All surface water (dam, river, channel, rainwater catchment, etc.) must be effectively treated and sanitised before being used as drinking, cleaning or cooling water for poultry.
Treated and sanitised water supply must be kept in a closed system from the point of treatment to its time of utilisation for drinking water or cooling.
- Only pullets and/or laying fowl are to be kept in the production area and no other avian species (including aviary birds and pet birds).
- While not a preferable practice, if more than one commercially produced avian species is kept in the production area, the species must be housed and managed separately, with suitable internal biosecurity arrangements for each species as well as the overall property boundary biosecurity for the entire site. Shared equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. The risk of increased endemic disease should be considered as an increased risk assessment in such mixed operations. As domestic species of waterfowl can be asymptomatic carriers of AI, they should never be housed on sites where other types of commercial poultry species are present.
- Feeding systems must, wherever possible, be closed to ensure that feed in silos and feed delivery systems are protected from access and contamination by wild birds and rodents. Feed spills outside the shed must be cleaned up without delay to prevent the attraction of wild birds and vermin.
- Where bird weighing is practised, it must be carried out using the production area’s own weighing frames and scales. Company service personnel can use their own scales provided that they are cleaned and disinfected when moved between production areas.
- Personnel standards and procedures
Objective: To minimise the risk of introducing or spreading a disease or contaminant through vehicle and/or people movement, including:
- Staff (including production, service and grading floor personnel)
- Contractors, suppliers and other service personnel
- Visitors and family members and
- To document such movements to facilitate tracing in case of a concern.
- Production personnel
Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by production personnel.
- Operational standards
- Grading floor and egg processing specific additional biosecurity requirements
GLOBAL INITIATIVES ON BIOSECURITY
EEC commission decision ( 2005/734/EC) of Oct. 19, 2005 was adopted laying down Biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza caused by influenza A virus of subtype H5N1 from birds living in the wild to poultry and other captive birds and providing for an early detection system in areas at particular risk.
This decision was amended on 21 October 2005 by adding article (2a) re additional risk mitigating measures as follows:
- a) The keeping of poultry in the open air is prohibited without undue delay; however, the competent authority may authorize the keeping of poultry in open air provided the poultry are provided with food and water indoors or under a shelter which sufficiently discourages the landing of wild birds and prevents contact by wild birds with the feed or water intended for poultry;
- b) Outdoor water reservoirs required for animal welfare reasons for certain poultry are sufficiently screened against wild waterfowl;
- c) The poultry is not provided with water from surface water reservoirs accessed by wild birds, unless such water was treated to ensure inactivation of possible virus;
- d) The use of birds of the orders Anseriformes and Charadriiformes as decoy during bird-hunting is prohibited;
- e) Members States shall ensure that the collection of poultry and other birds on markets, shows, exhibitions and cultural events is prohibited. Models to rationalize regulatory functions among secretors for improved effectiveness and efficiency have appeared.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), disciplines SPS measures in relation to international trade. The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and OIE provide international standards for food safety, plant health, and animal health respectively.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a meeting represented by their Agricultural and Health Ministers on Jan. 28, 2004 in Bangkok. Recognizing the potential serious impact of Avian Influenza (AI) on global public health, livestock production, trade and economic development, decided to:
- a) Commit to more stringent surveillance and effective response systems, improved research and development capabilities, and sharing of information and technology;
- b) Intensify national, regional and international efforts to tackle the outbreak of AI and future similar threats;
- c) Implement domestic measures to control AI having regard to the recommendations of WTO, OIE, WHO, and FAO;
- d) Work closely with OIE to strengthen guidelines on reporting and surveillance system;
- e) Promote rapid, transparent and accurate exchange of scientific information to provide early warning of potential outbreak, and consider creating a regional veterinary surveillance network to link it with human health surveillance mechanisms;
- f) Strengthen cooperation with regional and international organizations and joint research and development initiatives to reduce the hazards of epizootic outbreaks on human health, share best practices, devise counter measures, and develop effective, low-cost diagnostic test kits, vaccination and anti-viral drugs;
- g) Call for assistance and exchange of expertise to assist affected countries to enhance their epidemiological and laboratory capacity for prompt detection, monitoring, surveillance and controlling of the disease;
- h) Investigate options for designing more Biosecurity developments of the poultry sector for both small scale and commercial production.
ENFORCEMENT OF BIOSECURITY MEASURES
Having deliberated most literature on the subject of Biosecurity, one can accomplish the following:
- a) Biosecurity is a relatively new concept. It has been emphasized in a meaningful way after the emergence of Avian Influenza in many parts of the world.
- b) Biosecurity was, until the emergence of AI, used in conjunction with biosafety and bioterrorism and referred to measures to produce safe food for human consumption.
- c) OIE has not dealt with the subject even up to now except in joint meetings with FAO.
- d) FAO started addressing Biosecurity recently but several years after the emergence of AI.
- e) Had the highly pathogenic form of AI (HPAI) not hit the poultry industry hard and HPAI not affect humans by making certain of them ill or die, neither the United Nations, represented by FAO, nor governments would have resorted to Biosecurity actions and measures to reduce the spread of this disease or ultimately other poultry diseases as well.
- f) Biosecurity measures, within the capacity of individual farmers or poultry companies, were implemented at varying degrees for a long time. These measures were taken in view of their economic benefits to such institutions. Benefits included avoidance of bacterial disease infections such as coryza, cholera, mycoplasmas, salmonellas, and reduction of exposure to viral diseases such as Newcastle and recently avian influenza. Even though the level of Biosecurity on any farm needs to be continuously upgraded and improved, certain Biosecurity measures cannot be imposed by individual farmers or poultry companies. Such issues need to be handled by authorities or governments.
It seems that governments, due to the complexities of issuing laws and acts, have so far not adopted certain Biosecurity measures that could certainly reduce disease transmission from one farm to another or from ranging birds to other ranging birds or commercial farms.
Therefore, in order to really reduce the risks of poultry disease transmission, particularly Avian Influenza, governments have to interfere by issuing acts and directives in the form of laws and enforce their implementation.
Avian Influenza (AI) is continuing to spread in the world, even though at a slower rate since the use of effective vaccines, especially in the countries where compensation is not possible and hence stamping-out fails, and where rural and backyard, non-vaccinated, poultry exists on a large scale.
Biosecurity is a well proven means of checking the spread of this as well as other contagious poultry diseases. However, Biosecurity measures have so far, been implemented by farmers at their own consent and will. Mandatory Biosecurity measures may have been imposed in the context of biosafety and food security. Since AI is a threat to humans, and since the benefits of Biosecurity exceed avoidance of exposure to AI to improve poultry performance, enforcing Biosecurity measures on poultry farms and related facilities, such as hatcheries and slaughter houses, should be seriously considered and adopted by FAO and OIE.
In turn, FAO and OIE should persuade all governments of the world to adopt the same Biosecurity measures and enforce them by appropriate legislations and laws.
- FAO – Committee on Agriculture-Seventh Session, 31/3-4/4, 2003 Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture.
- EU Commission Decision 2005/745/EC of 21/10/2005 Biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of transmission of HPAI.
- Poultry Industry of New Zealand- Broiler Growing Biosecurity Manual Info@pianz.org.nz
- Code of Practice for Biosecurity in the Egg Industry- RIRDC publication No. 01/102, project No. MS001-02.http://www.rirdc.gov.au
- Poultry Fact Sheet No. 26 – Cooperative Extension – University of California, Biosecurity for Poultry Flocks.
- USDA – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Biosecurity Guide for Poultry and Bird Owners – April 2014.
- California Department of Food and Agriculture – Commercial Poultry Biosecurity