Personal Hygiene Should Be Integrated In A Full Bio Security Program

By Luc Ledoux, CID LINES nv - The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is still valid in modern pig management. In this article, we will focus on the human being as a disease vector and look at how to integrate personal hygiene in a full circle biosecurity program.
calendar icon 31 July 2006
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CID Lines

In order to prevent development and transmission of micro organisms in the farm itself, internal measurements have to be taken, such as: all-in-all-out, good farrowing hygiene (pens must be cleaned and disinfected before sows enter, sows must be washed and released from lice and mange), good drinking water hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting of batteries and fattening places between different batches. External measurements are those which help to keep out micro-organisms from outside.

As micro organisms can be transmitted by wind, geographic location is important. The farm should be far away from other infection sources, such as a slaughterhouse or a highway with passing animal transports. Also the purchasing strategy is important: only buy animals with a known health status and preferably always from the same farm. Put purchased animals in quarantine before mixing them with your herd. Trucks entering your farm can easily bring in diseases from their previous destinations. Therefore, wheel dip, cleaning and disinfecting of the truck is necessary.

Finally, other animals and humans are effective disease transmitters. Animals (such as dogs, cats, rodents, birds, insects) can be kept out of your farm: by putting barricades such as fences and having efficient rodent and pest control programs. Concerning people, there will always be workers, yourself, and eventually visitors who have to enter the barns. Therefore safety measurements have to be taken: showers, clean coveralls and booths should be always there. It's an evidence that the location and infrastructure of the shower zone has a strong influence on the efficacy of this personal hygienic measurements.

The Dutch and Belgian IKB system ( "Integral Chain Control" ), contains measurements for the entire pig and pork producing chain (farm to fork), in order to improve and guarantee the quality of animals and meat. For every part of the production chain, from breeding farm to meat outlets, regulations are formulated. In order to prevent disease input in pig farms by humans, IKB settled the following norms:

  • Just as HACCP states for the food processing industry, the general and most important norm is the strict separation of clean and dirty zones. In this context, the clean zone consists of the part where the barns are located, eventually expanded with the part where transport of people and/or pigs, feed and materials occurs between the different units and barns.

  • Ideally the drainage for clean rooms should also be separated from the drainage for dirty rooms.

  • The staff changing room should be like a " hinge " between clean and dirty zone. This room should be accessible without passing internal "throughput zones" (traffic area) of people, pigs or material. There should also be an inter space between this room and the compartments, such like a central corridor.

  • Also the staff changing room should be divided into a clean and dirty zone. The clean and dirty zone of this room gives access to the clean and dirty zone of the farm respectively. This edge can be made by a barrier, e.g. a bench. Another possibility is having the showers at the edge: in this case transfer of micro organisms is minimized, as passing the zones is only possible after having taken a shower. Anyway it should be well indicated in the dirty zone how the clean zone has to be entered.

  • Between the clean part of the staff changing room and the central corridor, there should be possibilities to clean booths, and booth dips also have to be placed.

  • In the dirty zone of the staff room, there should be at least one wash basin with running cold and hot water, soap and a towel. Paper towels are preferable, but textile towels are also acceptable, at least if they are changed frequently.

  • In the clean zone of the staff room, there should also be a wash basin with running cold and hot water, clean working clothing like coveralls, clean boots and eventually clean headgears. Ideally clothing should be washed on the farm itself.

  • Materials which comes from outside should also pass through a room at the edge of the clean and dirty zone. In that room, it should be possible to disinfect the materials e.g. by fogging (therefore, you can use the same terminal disinfectant like you're using in your barns)

Although booth dips in front of every barn entrance are only advised when a separation between clean and dirty zone is not completely implemented, it's advisable to place a booth dip anyway in front of the entrance of a compartment, especially in critical zones, such as the farrowing houses.

Efficient disinfecting product for use in booth dips:
Booth dip disinfectant should have a broad spectrum, fast working and retaining a long residual action. Well formulated and buffered products based on a combination of aldehydes and quaternary ammonia or peracetic acid and hydroxyperoxide normally respond those requirements. Important is that the dilution advised by the manufacturer is correctly respected. Also make sure that the volume of the dilution in the bath is high enough, so that the booths are sufficiently soaked (min 10cm or 4 inches). Renew the dilution on time.

Cleaning and disinfecting products for personal use:
As micro organisms are easily transmitted via the hands, it's advisable to pay attention on the kind of hand soap you use. A disinfecting soap, e.g. based on chlorehexidine or quaternary ammonia, will remove the dirt and sanitise the skin in one step. Another possibility is remove first the dirt by using a normal soap, and thereafter disinfect the hands (e.g. with a product based on alcohol). For your personal comfort, it's also important to use soap which is being effective without being aggressive for your skin.

It's evident that above described measurements only can be effective when integrated in a total hygiene program and management. This hygiene program also has to be followed precisely, without skipping a step. Therefore communication on all levels is necessary: management, workers have to be trained and informed so that they are aware of all measurements, facts and procedures. For visitors, there has to be a protocol, from which they have been informed clearly before entering the farm.

Thus biosecurity is a mix of constitutional (= geographic location), structural (= whole lay-out of the operation :easy to clean and to separate clean and dirty areas) and operational elements ( staff motivation, communication, implementation and control of the procedures). Personal hygiene is an important part of it.

June 2006

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