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Stepped-up Precautions Urged for Livestock, Poultry
by
Carla Everett
Texas Animal Health Commission
ceverett@tahc.state.tx.us
Notice from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC):

We have been notified that, in the wake of recent terrorist bombings overseas, reports of possible terrorist attacks continue to flow into the U.S. Government at a high rate. Increased vigilance is prudent. Because animal diseases could be used as a weapon to create havoc and damage marketability of products, you are urged to maintain a close watch on livestock, poultry and property and to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activities to your local law enforcement officials. Also, the TAHC operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline, with veterinarians on call to assess the situation and dispatch a foreign animal disease diagnostician, if the situation warrants.

I am providing information about biosecurity. If you would like to receive printed copies of this brochure, please email me with your mailing address and the number of copies you would like to receive.
Carla Everett, TAHC public info officer

Biosecurity... Plain & Simple

At 1,200 pounds, cattle look tough... but these animals, just like horses, sheep, goats, poultry and other livestock can be "taken down" by just a few unseen bacteria, viruses or parasites, whether theyíre introduced intentionally or accidentally. By making some simple changes, however, you can ensure that your animals are afforded an extra measure of health protection!

Biosecurity practices donít have to be cumbersome, confusing or expensive. In fact, a small tub, a gallon of bleach or disinfectant, and a brush will go a long way toward protecting your livestock from "outside" disease. Your premise needs to be a "safe" area≠and biosecurity practices are the barriers you can use to keep disease out!

1. Give "germs" the boot!
You wouldnít think of eating off the floor at the local coffee shop, livestock market... feed store or grocery. But, if you walk around these places in your work boots, then head home and work with your animals, you may be tracking "germs" on the soles of your shoes to your pasture, animal bedding or any livestock feed you step in.
Donít take unwanted "guests" to your animals. Either keep a pair of boots or shoes to wear only on your own premise, or clean and disinfect your footwear before heading out to check on livestock.
Commercial disinfectants are readily available, or you can mix three parts bleach to two parts water in a small, flat tub. A quick scrub of your boots with a long-handled brush will remove manure, mud or debris, and the bleach or disinfectant will kill viruses, germs and parasites.
Company coming? Ask your visitors and employees to clean their boots, too. If you entertain prospective international buyers, you might even consider providing them with rubber boots that are never removed from your premise.
Where have your hands been? Handling animals at the livestock market? In Great Britain, foot-and-mouth virus was spread at the livestock auction by buyers inspecting the mouths of hundreds of sheep.

2. Donít haul home disease
Car, truck or trailer tires can harbor "germs," too. At the livestock market, youíve probably driven through manure, mud or muck. Taking a few minutes to spray disinfectant over your tires can kill the "germs" youíve picked up in the parking lots, on dirt roads or in a friendís pasture. If youíve been hauling livestock in your trailer, a quick trip through the car wash is advisable before returning home.

3. Bucket brigades & tool trades
Borrowing equipment or tools from a neighbor? Carrying buckets, shovels or wheelbarrows to use at the local fair or exhibit? You can bet youíve picked up "germs" at the event. Donít bring these items home until youíve washed off the "crud" and sprayed the equipment with disinfectant.
Clean and disinfect borrowed items before returning them!

4. Trash & Garbage: "Bag it!"
Control refuse on your premise. Donít haul home trash or garbage from your office, store or another site, unless itís bagged in plastic and sealed.
Never bring home meat scraps to feed livestock. Besides being illegal to feed pigs meat scraps, itís also a dangerous practice, as viruses and bacteria can be alive in undercooked meat scraps.

5. Tourist OR terrorist?
Be aware of who is on your property! Strangers lurking near your fence line, could be innocent tourists admiring the scenery and your stock...or they could have sinister intentions. Ask questions --or call the local law enforcement officials. These days, it pays to be alert -- and justifiably suspicious!
Friends, family or business associates coming to visit? If theyíve traveled internationally within the previous week, discourage them from handling your livestock. At the very least, make certain their footwear is disinfected. Some viruses can stay alive for several days on clothing, footwear.
If youíve traveled internationally, wash your clothes, shower and clean your boots before going out to check on livestock or poultry. Better yet, avoid getting near your animals for at least 48 hours after traveling internationally, to ensure you donít pass any viruses that may be Ďharboredí in your nasal passages.

6. Padlock your perimeter.
Lock your gates! Keep feed sacks and veterinary supplies in a secure location. Donít tempt someone to tamper with feed, supplements or medicines.
Taking animals to a show or fair? Donít take chances with feed supplies and equipment at the show grounds. With the increased threat of agricultural terrorism, security is extremely important, particularly where unknown persons have access to livestock or poultry.

7. Give Ďgermsí space!
Keep newly introduced animals isolated for at least two weeks.
Newly acquired animals should be isolated for at least two weeks, to ensure you donít introduce disease to your main herd or flock. Although itís not required, unless you import animals from out of state, you might consider having your private practitioner inspect animals prior to, or shortly after, making a purchase.
As an added precaution, consider keeping show animals segregated for two weeks after theyíve been to a fair or exhibit. If someone has introduced a disease at an event, youíll be protecting your main herd or flock.

8. Report signs of disease immediately!
Donít wait to report unusual signs of disease to your private practitioner or the Texas Animal Health Commission! TAHC or U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians will work with you and your private veterinary practitioner at no charge to take samples for diagnostic testing.
Early reporting is crucial to the health and safety of YOUR herd or flock and to the entire livestock and poultry industry!
The TAHC operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline, with veterinarians on call to assess the situation and dispatch a foreign animal disease diagnostician, if the situation warrants. Call 1-800-550-8242 and follow the recorded instructions, please.

Why be Concerned?
* A foreign animal disease outbreak could stop Texasí interstate and international livestock and poultry trade "dead in its tracks."
* Early reporting is the most important step in eradicating a disease outbreak! Donít be afraid of crying "wolf!"
* There is no charge for TAHC or USDA veterinarians to work with you and your private veterinary practitioner to conduct a disease investigation.
* Donít take shortcuts! Livestock health regulations were developed to protect herds and flocks!

Signs of disease that should be reported immediately:
1. Sudden, unexplained death loss in the herd or flock
2. Severe illness affecting a high percentage of animals
3. Blisters around an animalís mouth, nose, teats or hooves.
4. Unusual ticks or maggots.
5. Staggering, falling or central nervous system disorders that prevent animals from rising or walking normally.


 

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