News Release

For immediate release: March 6, 2017

Contact: Michael Crusan

Biosecurity is a year-round responsibility

First U.S. commercial poultry detection of 2017 serves as strong reminder

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a Tennessee commercial chicken breeder flock on March 5. Although the response and containment was quick and successful, the incident highlights the need for producers to remain vigilant to reduce the risk of virus spread.

Two years ago, Minnesota experienced a similar deadly strain of avian influenza that decimated millions of birds over several months, and took an emotional and financial toll on farmers and Minnesota’s rich agricultural economy. Although the outbreak was specific to poultry, all livestock are affected by various diseases and it is in everyone’s best interest to maintain a safe food supply chain. Healthy animals are more productive and sustain a strong rural economy. A key link to protect every level of the food supply is biosecurity.

“Biosecurity is one of the best proactive measures we can take to keep animals healthy,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Beth Thompson.

Biosecurity is a preventative approach used in livestock and poultry production to minimize the introduction or spread of disease causing organisms like viruses or bacteria. Farmers should have a biosecurity plan or program tailored to their farm and livestock species. This plan should address risks for disease and the measures the owners, operators and visitors can take to prevent disease from entering their farm. The “line of separation” is an important component of a biosecurity plan and it marks the physical barrier where “clean” items, materials or clothing are separated from “dirty.”

General biosecurity steps anyone involved with livestock and poultry should keep in mind include:

  • Keep animals in a secure area and limit contact with people.
  • Separate sick animals from healthy animals.
  • Ensure fences, barriers and buildings are in working order.
  • Create a line of separation and keep visitors to a minimum on the “clean side” of this line.
  • Control vehicle traffic onto the farm and wash or disinfect vehicles entering clean areas.
  • Provide either disposable coveralls or barn-specific clothing to necessary visitors.
  • Provide either disposable booties, a boot wash or barn-specific boots for necessary visitors.
  • Clean and disinfect any tools or equipment before bringing them across your line of separation.
  • Always wash your hands and use separate clothing and footwear when you enter the “clean side.”
  • When in doubt, disinfect.

While biosecurity is important any time of the year, the changing seasons present a higher risk and everyone in the livestock community should be alert as temperatures rise. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health, USDA, and livestock commodity groups all have excellent resources to help farmers and others plan and practice biosecurity.

View the General Biosecurity Steps flyer