Biosecurity must-haves for swine veterinarians

Swine veterinarians are sort of the gatekeepers of biosecurity protocols both on and between hog farms. No one wants to introduce a harmful pathogen into a herd, but the reality is the more pig exposure that a person has, the riskier that visitor becomes, even if he or she is a veterinarian.
calendar icon 13 October 2017
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“The best recommendation is to minimize the number of farms visited in a single day,” said Anna Romagosa, DVM, with PIC Europe. [1]

Downtime requirements have become the norm, but they can range from 14 hours to 48 hours, and there are situations when spending time away from pigs is just not possible.

“If visiting multiple farms, you should inform each producer that you plan to visit other farms on the same day,” she added. Also consider outlining a logical flow from farm to farm, minimizing disease exposure and risks as much as possible. These same protocols could be applied to field representatives of contract production systems who visit multiple sites.

In a paper submitted to the 2017 American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ meeting, Romagosa offered these additional recommendations for a safe on-farm visit:

  • Plan ahead. No farm visit should be made without careful planning. Any that require close livestock contact should be last of the day.
  • Limit your visits. If a disease problem is identified after arrival and review of a farm, make no other visits that day. If possible, disinfect the vehicle before departing, even if you never left the parking area.
  • Keep vehicles far away. Always try to park in an area away from livestock and truck areas. Remember that vehicles are as much a risk for spreading disease pathogens as are people.
  • Wear disposable plastic boots before leaving the car.
  • Honor personal hygiene basics such as washing hands.
  • Follow the farm’s protocols for entrance biosecurity.
  • Wear the farm’s clean protective clothing and footwear, as well as the personal protective equipment (mask, gloves), if necessary.
  • Don’t carry in supplies unless sanitation is provided and followed.
  • Sanitize vehicles inside and out, remember the steering wheel, rubber matting and pedals.
  • Properly store and dispose of used consumable items.
  • Handle collected laboratory specimens safely and with biosecurity in mind.
  • Observe self-quarantine if highly contagious diseases are suspected.

Romagosa also offered this list of basic supplies that a veterinarian and regular farm visitor should always carry:

  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • Disposable plastic boots
  • Disinfectants (antibacterial dish detergent, bleach solution and/or Virkon-S), brushes and pails
  • Trash bags

[1] Romagosa A, et al. Applied Review of Evidence-based Biosecurity. Biosecurity Seminar Proceedings of the 48th American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ Annual Meeting. 2017;5-10.

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