A small room devoted to disinfecting all supplies brought into a production facility can help avoid the inadvertent introduction of pathogens.

At the close of Carthage Veterinary Service's annual swine conference the end of August, Joe Connor, DVM, traditionally offers a few of the best ideas he's seen and heard about in his many travels.

This year, one of the ideas Connor gave kudos to was a disinfectant chamber used to improve biosecurity in swine facilities.

Research has shown that the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus can be introduced to facilities through contaminated fomites - inanimate objects such as equipment, boots and other supplies, he explains. To help avoid the risk of introducing PRRS and other pathogens, Connor recommends that producers disinfect all supplies entering any production facility.

A disinfectant chamber consists of a self-contained room equipped with an exhaust fan, and of adequate size to handle all of the items entering the facility, including bulky items like bagged feeds or medications. The room must be able to be sealed during, and immediately after, fumigation.

Many new facilities are being designed with disinfectant chambers to make fogging incoming supplies more convenient. In existing facilities, disinfectant chambers can often be retrofitted into an existing office, workroom or a seldom-used hallway.

“Locate the chamber so it is convenient for unloading supplies and equipment from delivery vehicles, and for moving items into storage or an inventory room in the facility,” says Connor.

Ideally, the disinfectant chamber will serve as the unloading dock/receiving area. Shelving should be installed near the exterior door so the delivery persons do not have to step inside to transfer supplies into the disinfectant chamber.

Open shelving, such as wire mesh or grating, works best because it allows for more direct contact with the fogging disinfectant. Be sure there is enough shelving so objects can be spread out, allowing disinfectant to come in contact with all surfaces. It is also helpful to have a drain in the disinfectant chamber for periodic cleaning to remove film buildup after repeated fogging, he adds.

Barn personnel should be in charge of the fogging or fumigation. Connor recommends using an insect fogger and a sanitation agent known to be effective against the PRRS virus, such as Synergize (Preserve International), a combination of 26% alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and 7% glutaraldehyde.

A timer is needed to assure the process provides for thorough coverage during fogging and adequate wait time afterwards.

“The duration of fogging should be based on the manufacturer's recommendations,” says Connor. “With Synergize, fogging occurs for 10 minutes and then the chamber is closed for an additional 10 minutes.”

During the wait time, producers should exit the room, leaving the chamber door closed with the exhaust fan off. After the 10-minute period, the door should be opened and the exhaust fan turned on for an additional 10 minutes to clear the air. Supplies are then ready to be transferred into their proper storage locations.

All incoming supplies, including personal items, should be disinfected. “Lunches, too, but they should be contained in tightly sealed lunch boxes or coolers,” says Connor.

“Proper disinfectant of incoming supplies dramatically reduces the risk of introduction of PRRS and other diseases via fomites,” Connor reinforces.

Connor says the following list of supplies for a disinfectant chamber can be purchased for less than $1,000:

  • Open shelving, such as wire mesh or grating
  • Insect fogger
  • Disinfectant
  • Timer
  • Exhaust fan
  • Sealant strips for doors.