"Biosecurity" and "Biocontainment" for Livestock
Dick Wallace, DVM, MS, Dairy Extension Veterinarian, University
of Illinois Extension
The year 2001 has generated an additional wake-up call for those
involved with the health and well-being of our nation's livestock.
First, the hoof and mouth disease outbreak in Great Britain heightened
our awareness of biosecurity in the U.S. Then, the terrorist actions
on September 11 increased concerns about possible acts of bioterrorism.
Now, we hear of a confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Establishing rational, practical biosecurity plans involves evaluating
risks or threats as well as the probabilities of occurrence of
those risks. The events of September 11 certainly make this task
much more daunting, if not impossible. This is not the time for
additional knee-jerk reactions, but it is a good time to re-evaluate
our own day-to-day actions and duties to help maintain the productivity
of U.S. livestock.
Since biosecurity and biocontainment cannot be found in the dictionary,
let me offer a formal and straightforward definition for each.
Biosecurity can be defined as "a process to protect from
attack or interference due to biological organisms." This
process can be applied to yourself, a farm, the state, or our
country. A hood-of-the-truck definition could be shortened to
"keeping the bad bugs off the farm." Biocontainment,
on the other hand, can be defined as "a process to keep biological
organisms within a limited space or area." Back to the hood-of-the-truck,
an uncomplicated definition is "keeping the bad bugs from
leaving the farm."
Preparedness, vigilance, and maintenance of best-management practices
are our best chance for insulating our livestock industries. Be
aware of the clinical signs of foreign animal diseases. Early
detection is essential. Participate in animal disaster simulations
coordinated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Prevent
the spread of disease by wearing rubber boots and using disinfectant
when visiting farms. Those of us "in the field" will
be the first line of defense should a foreign animal disease be
introduced. Our best shield is early recognition and reporting
of disease, followed by a rapid response with a coordinated plan
from our regulatory personnel. For more information visit the
University of Illinois Extension Biosecurity website at:
or the Center for Disease Control bioterrorism web page at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/