Extension Ag Update
November/December 2001
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"Biosecurity" and "Biocontainment" for Livestock in 2001

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 in Japan.

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:
http://il-traill.outreach.uiuc.edu/biosecurity/ or the Center for Disease Control bioterrorism web page at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/