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Biosecurity: trust but verify

National Pork Board Loading nursery pigs onto a semi trailer
Biosecurity should be reviewed now to be ready for the increased risk of PRRS coming.

Fall is upon us, and we all know what is coming – Christmas! Sorry, getting a little ahead of the game – PRRS season. Biosecurity should be reviewed now to be ready for the increased risk of PRRS coming into the fall/winter season. This winter we have great disease risk – not only is the new 144 Lineage 1C PRRS variant lurking but ASF is also a short plane ride away in the Dominican Republic. As we think about biosecurity, there are three buckets to look at: Pigs, People and Stuff. Each bucket is unique and needs to be addressed in different ways to do the best you can to avoid disease transmission between sites.

Pigs – the best source of pig diseases! Sometimes we forget that the pig is the best carrier of pig diseases. Yes, it sounds simple, but the pig should always be a focus of biosecurity. Diagnostics are great to monitor gilts before movements but there is risk in transportation so gilt isolation is very important to have time to monitor prior to entry into a sow farm. Also, monitoring the farrowing house can help keep you informed on status and allow for decisions to be made on downstream flow. The increase in the number of PRRS area control programs shows that we are learning that pig health of not only our pigs is important, but also pig health of the neighbor’s pigs.

People – the one bucket that can easily touch multiple farms in a day. The people risk is a much lower risk today as most facilities properly execute shower-in/shower-out protocols. And while caretakers want to do the right thing, human nature is to drift off protocols. Lack of following SOPs is most likely the biggest risk with people. We still count on people to disinfect product and equipment before entry and to mix the disinfectant correctly. Outside vendors would include veterinarians and maintenance crews. They need to be included in all biosecurity training every year. A good time to do the training is now, coming into the high-risk time.

Stuff – the BIG bucket. This bucket is broad and includes things like livestock trailers, manure handling equipment, rodents, and supplies. Trailer sanitation has become even more important with PEDv activity as it allows for easy transmission among finishing sites during harvest shipments. A common weak point in trailer sanitation is not making sure those washing the trailers understand the expectation of what clean is. Most farms coming into fall will be watching pit levels and be eager to get manure pumped. Whether it is the fall weather or manure pumping, they go hand and hand in PRRS risk timing.  We know that various viruses can stay alive in manure slurry for extended periods, so it is a risk when pumpers move from site to site. Rodents can also harbor disease or carry them from building to building. Rodents are hard on the facility, as well, so a good baiting program with rotation of baits is a good practice. The last big part of the bucket is supplies. They come in all different shapes and sizes, so biosecurity protocols need to be flexible, otherwise the people factor make take over and nothing may get done.

Recently a vendor stopped at the clinic for a biosecurity inspection of equipment. The vendor was asked to go from a remodeling project to a new construction site. The crew had three nights of downtime, so they were good to go. The crew arrived with two enclosed trailers and a flat bed trailer full of equipment.

The rest of the story now becomes very important. The remodeling project was on a site that was depopulating due to PRRS. The remodeling was to install air filtration to protect the restocking from aerosol PRRS transmission. The next farm the crew was going to was not only new construction, but it was also an expansion of a PRRS naïve herd, so pigs were present. The crew was good on downtime, but everything in the trailers was not clean.

Every saw, drill, and battery looked like any typical used equipment with saw dust, grease, dirt, and grime all over them. The trailers were neatly organized with everything having a home and secured for travel. But the construction crew’s version of clean did not match our expectation. The construction site supervisor had assured us they were “good to go.” This is why we “trust” the site supervisor but still “verify” to make sure we are not putting farms at risk as vendors move from site to site.

The crew was great to work with to clean things up. Four hours later, and after six large tubs of disinfectant wipes, numerous trips to the car wash, and new tool belts, the equipment, trailers, and people were finally ready to go. This incident reinforces the need to “trust but verify” to ensure biosecurity protocol compliance.

Let’s all strive for a “Merry Christmas” with little to no PRRS activity because we’ve implemented the “trust but verify” part of biosecurity.

Source: Doug Groth, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Service, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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