More and more swine veterinarians are broadening the focus of biosecurity programs to include personnel and transportation issues.
“Some systems are requiring dedicated truck washes that only allow trucks used in their own system to wash there. The concern is that any commercial truck wash has the potential to have many diseases present,” says veterinarian Tim Loula of the Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, MN.
Clients with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS)-negative farms are either demanding PRRS-negative trucks be used or insisting on several days downtime after hauling PRRS-positive pigs, adds Loula.
At Iowa Select Farms, trucking is viewed as one of the biggest biosecurity risks, says chief operating officer Howard Hill, DVM. “We have emphasized washing and disinfecting of trucks and separated breeder multiplication transportation from all other commercial transportation and marketing trucks,” he reports.
More emphasis is being placed on clean trucks and personnel movements, “especially if farm staff or owners are going to a slaughter plant,” notes Max Rodibaugh, DVM, Frankfort, IN.
Concern over people as a cause of disease transmission is sometimes overrated, says Brad Thacker, DVM, Iowa State University. But their vehicles could have an impact, especially if objects or flies are carried in their vehicles. Visitor parking is often located very close to production facilities. Where possible, pick up visitors at a distant site and transport them to the unit, he advises.
Procedures have changed at Iowa Select for dead animal pickup, another area of growing concern, says Hill. “All the deads from multiplication sites are now hauled away with company-owned, dedicated trucks,” he explains.
According to Loula and partners Paul Yeske, DVM, and Ross Kiehne, DVM, more farms have also converted to composting or incinerating dead animals in order to reduce or eliminate the use of a rendering service.
Lisa Tokach, DVM, president of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, says increased vigilance as to the health of source herds is another change in biosecurity rules.
“We have now come to expect regular, frequent monitoring of the health status of our source herd,” says Tokach, Abilene Animal Hospital, Abilene, KS. “It is no longer acceptable to say, ‘We haven't seen any health problems.’ We use science to give us the answers.”
Thacker agrees. “We do more blood testing of incoming animals, especially for PRRS.” He says PRRS control is elusive, so the best approach is to try and keep out new strains.
“The most important thing producers should do is test each and every shipment of new stock while it is in isolation to make sure they are as they have been represented,” states James Kober, DVM, Holland, MI.
What's often missing, however, is an action plan if it turns out the animals were misrepresented, he says.
Several veterinarians surveyed agreed that an overhaul of biosecurity practices is needed.
Rodibaugh sees less emphasis on downtime and people taking showers.
Fellow Indiana swine practitioner Larry Rueff agrees: “We must recognize that a lot of the old rules, such as downtime, showers, etc., have not been shown to be of any advantage or disadvantage,” he says. “In fact, historical outbreaks of disease have occurred in many units that put a heavy emphasis on items such as showers and downtime.”
Most veterinarians surveyed indicated that written biosecurity practices are posted and frequently reviewed at the farm level. Biosecurity audits are more common.
Biosecurity rules need to be living documents, changed with science and adapted to fit each operation, stresses John Waddell, DVM, Sutton, NE.
Remind producers and employees that proper biosecurity makes good sense, and is vital to keeping the herd healthy, he says.
Kober says he tries to assign one person on each farm to be in charge of biosecurity to keep the issue on the top of everyone's mind.