The recent outbreak of avian influenza among poultry operations in the Midwest has had a devastating impact on the birds and the families who produce and care for them.
As you listen to the news, you soon realize that even the best veterinary medical reconnaissance experts in the world are uncertain of the exact cause of the spread. While much is known about the disease, scientists are discovering transmission nuances that are complicating the abatement and spread of this disease.
While you hear about the large commercial operations that are being depopulated for the sake of protecting the industry, why, you ask, would a dairy specialist be writing about an unrelated species and a disease that is not known to spread from poultry to cattle?
It’s because all of agriculture is vulnerable, crops and livestock alike, when we get lazy about adhering to biosecurity measures or worse, when the potential exists for perpetrators of agro-terrorism deciding to attack your food safety.
So today’s message is: Biosecurity is everyone’s business, whether or not you live on a farm. Just visiting a farm has the potential to make anyone a carrier for the transmission of a disease.
Many farms have posted biosecurity signage and outlined measures to stay healthy. None of these is more prevalent than those biosecurity measures commonly practiced in the swine industry. In their barns, visitors commonly are not allowed in at all, or if you are granted passage, you must shower before entering and again before leaving.
Visitors, please respect these requests of your country neighbors to call and check in before visiting. We are anxious to tell you about our industry and our animals, but you need to work with us to keep them healthy and our farm sustainable.
Farmers and ranchers, do not take your daily contact with your and others’ animals for granted. Wear appropriate footwear when visiting other operations and make sure it is clean going into and out of your neighbor’s operation.
But biosecurity is not just our footwear. It’s about vehicle tires and even our own nasal passages, which can harbor and potentially spread a disease.
These precautionary measures seem like a nuisance, and many times they are not necessary. Or are they? Just ask the owners of those turkey operations that are laying off employees, burying their poultry and worrying about keeping their operations financially intact.