Animal health is a critical component of the modern food economy that most people outside the industry don’t consider. When livestock gets sick, it has the potential to affect other animals, impact the food supply, and cut into profits. As with any type of disease, prevention is key to maintaining animal health.
The Importance of Animal Health
There are three primary ways that animal health can affect humans: the spread of disease from animals to humans, food safety issues, and destruction of animal populations. In developing nations that depend heavily on livestock, sickness in animals can have devastating effects, especially with diseases that can also be transferred to humans. One report indicated that 13 diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans kill 2.2 million people each year.
In addition to the diseases that affect humans, the death of even a single animal in poor and rural regions can have disastrous consequences for the families that rely on it. Countries with more established livestock industries, like the United States, can also be negatively affected by animal illness. For example, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)—also referred to as mad cow disease—is not contagious among herds; but when affected products are consumed by humans, it can result in illness or death.
Even when the disease doesn’t present a food safety issue, its effects can be damaging. African Swine Fever Virus is an example of the type of virulent disease that could have a major impact on local economies if it were to enter the United States. Because there is no cure or vaccine, the only solution is to destroy affected herds, which would consequently destroy livelihoods at the same time.
How Disinfecting Supports Animal Health
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has biosecurity programs designed to reduce the risk of transferring infectious diseases onto farms. The program for swine includes eight essential actions:
- Maintain health
- Procure animals from disease-free herds
- Keep the farm clean
- Control wildlife and insects
- Don’t carry disease back to the farm
- Don’t allow visitors to carry disease back to the farm
- Don’t allow animals to carry disease back to the farm
- Implement a farm biosecurity plan
Many of these action items can be supported with the help of a disinfectant that destroys unwanted bacteria, viruses, and fungi. To keep animal herds healthy, APHIS recommends:
- Cleaning and disinfecting equipment at the end of the day or after each use
- Cleaning water troughs/containers at least once a week
- Scrubbing and disinfecting footwear before getting back in a vehicle when visiting other farms
- Washing and disinfecting your vehicle, including the undercarriage and tires, after visiting another farm
- Having a foot bath at every entry point to areas where animals are kept
- Keeping vehicles and equipment out of areas where animals are kept
- Disinfecting any equipment that enters or leaves areas where animals are kept
Taking these preventive steps can help keep farm animals healthy and reduce the spread of disease and potential lost income.
Avian Influenza: A Use Case for D7
Several years ago, Avian Influenza was a major concern for poultry growers because of its ability to spread between wild and captive birds. Preventing the spread of disease between animals that can fly presented unique challenges that other types of livestock growers did not face. Because of this, maintaining a clean production facility was even more critical. D7 was used on poultry farms for disinfectant foot baths, equipment sprays, foaming of animal pens, and timed entryway foamers to ensure that the active ingredients were always present. As part of a comprehensive biosecurity plan, D7 can help farmers maintain animal health for avian influenza and potentially other types of virulent disease.
Small Investments Protect Major Interests
Maintaining animal health is serious business. Taking steps to prevent the spread of disease helps protect farmers, consumers, and the economy, so it is worth the small investment to avoid a larger outbreak. Disinfectants play a critical role in keeping farms clean and animals healthy. Read about the role that Decon7 played in increasing sanitation at a major turkey farm ➤