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The importance of disinfection and biosecurity in swine farming

Disinfection and biosecurity – we know that these are important hygiene and safety measures, particularly in the context of swine farming. But what exactly do they involve, and why are they so crucial?

Before we explore these concepts further, it’s important to first understand exactly what they mean. Disinfection refers to the process by which pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, are destroyed, either on a farm itself, the facilities, or the clothing items worn by workers. Biosecurity is a set of measures that need to be taken to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases throughout a farm – one of these measures being disinfection.

While it’s true that effective biosecurity doesn’t come cheap, studies have shown that optimal biosecurity practices as per standard operating protocol (covering all aspects including human intervention) can help to increase profits in the long run, maximising value, as well as health and safety.

Why are disinfection and biosecurity so crucial to swine farming?

The goal of any successful biosecurity programme is to prevent the herd from coming into contact with any pathogens that they have previously not been exposed to, while minimising the impact of endemic pathogens – and it’s here where biosecurity and security procedures merge to help enhance the health and productivity of pigs.

In order to ensure the ongoing health of the herd, farms need to proactively implement biosecurity measures such as:

  • A well-implemented disinfection programme
  • Fencing and access control
  • Human, animal, and vehicle access control
  • Showering and changing facilities
  • Footbaths
  • Pest control
  • Feed and feed quality
  • Reporting any mortalities to the relevant authorities

By taking these necessary steps, swine farms can help to increase their production and turnover, while keeping their herds safe from pathogens, bacteria and viruses, including foot and mouth disease, and the far more deadly notifiable disease:  African Swine Fever.

What is African Swine Fever?

A highly infectious and haemorrhagic disease known to infect pigs, African Swine Fever has a 100% fatality rate in domestic pigs and wild boar, with symptoms including high fever, vomiting, and extensive internal haemorrhaging. What makes this disease even more of a threat to both the local and global pork economy is the fact that there is no effective vaccine for African Swine Fever, making successful biosecurity measures the only weapon against this lethal virus.

While African Swine Fever is not a zoonotic disease, meaning that it cannot be transferred from animals to humans, in fact it can be transferred from humans to animals via indirect contact. Should a farm worker come into contact with contaminated food, surfaces or equipment, or even be carrying the virus on their shoes or clothing, they could be unknowingly contributing to the spread of African Swine Fever both in their own farms, and any other farms, locations or countries they could be travelling to. It’s for this reason that training staff on proper biosecurity and disinfection protocols is so crucial – firstly to create awareness of the dangers of indirect contact with the virus, and secondly to prevent any potential breaches in protocol, such as any contact with dead or infected pigs.

Alarmingly, as of March 2021, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has confirmed a recent outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Western Cape and North West Province, making disinfection, biosecurity and effective farming practices more crucial than ever before in ensuring the health of South African herds.

How AFSA can help

As an organisation committed to supporting safe, healthy, sustainable farming practices throughout South Africa and beyond, all of our business units are united in offering practical, affordable solutions to swine farming disease control.

Lavendula:

Dedicated to providing customised solutions for optimal nutritional livestock performance , Lavendula offers the Stalosan F disinfectant and desiccant powder from Allied Nutrition. Regular use of Stalosan F in animal housings has been shown to improve sanitation standards, while lowering disease levels and increasing both quality of life and feed conversion rates.

Additionally, as a broad spectrum dry disinfectant, Stalosan F is effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi, while controlling moisture, and reducing ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and other noxious gases, with its long-term residual effect making it a unique sanitising agent for all animal housing.

Mooivet:

With a focus on quality animal health products, Mooivet offers a range of both wet and dry disinfectants, all of which can form part of the rigorous disinfection needed for the effective elimination of viral, bacterial and fungal disease-causing microorganisms.

In terms of biosecurity and the implementation of a successful disinfection programme, the following products are highly recommended:

  • F10 Disinfectant Aerosol and Aerosol Fogger: These ready-to-use 500ml canisters offer high level disinfection of hard surfaces and air spaces within a 35 cubic metre area. Effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses and bacterial and fungal spores, they are also suitable for the disinfection of hard-to-reach areas, and any area in which there is a risk of airborne contamination.
  • GPC8™ New Formulation Disinfectant/Cleaner: This DEFRA-approved Glutaraldehyde disinfectant makes use of a non-corrosive biodegradable, patented formula that is shown to be highly effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi, with residual activity on clean surfaces for up to 8 weeks after use.
  • FAM 30® Iodophor Disinfectant: DEFRA-approved and ideal for general purpose use in protecting livestock, this disinfectant is biodegradable and stable, and active in the presence of organic matter. Bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal, it cleans and disinfects in one operation for convenient ease of use.

Professional Services:

As part of our professional services, our veterinary team will be on hand to assist with on-site consultations and advise on standard operating procedures as per the SAPPO Pork 360 standards. Our trusted veterinary partners will also be able to advise on the best measures for an effective biosecurity plan, as well as any training and implementation that may be needed.

What’s more, in light of the recent African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, our veterinarian team suggests the following:

  • Never buy pigs from unreliable sources
  • Never feed your herd swill
  • Limit human and vehicle access to your farm
  • Make sure you disinfect your vehicles and your equipment, and set aside dedicated gumboots and overalls for farm use
  • Ensure zero contact with infected soft ticks or warthogs, bush pigs and wild pigs
  • Avoid purchasing carcasses or meat from hunted wild pigs, as well as pork from pigs not slaughtered at an abattoir
  • Make sure there is no direct contact between infected pigs and healthy pigs
  • Make sure there is no indirect contact from people, contaminated feed, clothing, shoes, vehicles or any equipment that may transport the virus from infected pigs to healthy pigs

Should you suspect any African Swine Fever mortalities, please contact your local state veterinarian, as ASF is a controlled animal disease according to the Animal Diseases Act (Act 35 of 1984). The more we can all work together to prevent and control the spread of this virus, the healthier our swine and our economy will be.

 

References:

  1. https://www.thepigsite.com/articles/the-importance-of-total-swine-biosecurity#:~:text=Biosecurity%20is%20frequently%20understood%20as,of%20disease%20within%20the%20farm.&text=These%20immunosuppressant%20diseases%20are%20primarily%20spread%20by%20respiratory%20or%20fomite%20means.
  2. https://porkgateway.org/resource/biosecurity-of-pigs-and-farm-security/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0034528820307827
  4. https://www.kemin.com/af/en/blog/corporate/addressing-african-swine-fever-through-biosecurity
  5. https://www.veterinariadigital.com/en/articulos/disinfection-in-pig-farms-a-key-tool/
  6. https://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/western-cape-confirms-swine-fever-outbreak

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