Trade of animals, and the transport itself, is one of the most important ways of transmitting diseases. This was experienced during the Danish outbreak of Newcastle disease in 2002 and the spreading of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe in 2001. Subsequently, Denmark has introduced regulations on national movement of poultry, cattle, swine, sheep and goats to promote trade patterns and trade practices with a minimum of disease risk. In the following, various biosecurity measures aimed at preventing disease in peacetime and when disease is threatening are described.
Animal assembly centres are premises where animals are gathered prior to transport to slaughter or intra-community trade to other EU Member States. Live animal markets are assembly centres for trading of animals intended for further production in holdings. All animals are inspected by an official veterinarian before entering the assembly centre. The inspection concerns animal health as well as animal welfare conditions. Animals for slaughter are fully separated from animals for further production at the assembly centres. The assembly centre is cleaned and disinfected at the end of the day after assembly of animals.
Biosecurity and farm visits
Good hygiene practices are generally important in order to prevent the spread of disease in modern farm animal holdings. Good farm biosecurity means that good hygiene practices are in place on the animal holding.
In order to prevent that disease is spread by visitors at animal holdings, the following hygiene measures must be kept:
- Use boots or other footwear that is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before leaving the premises, or disposable shoe covering that is left on the premises.
- Clothing available at the holding, or protective clothing washed at 60 °C as minimum before next visit, must be worn.
- Hands are thoroughly washed after the visit.
- Equipment used in contact with animals, manure or other similar matter must be cleaned and disinfected before use on another animal holding.
If you have been in contact with an animal holding abroad, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recommends keeping out of Danish animal holdings, until 48 hours after the visit. This is a protective measure against introduction of an infection into Danish animal holdings.
Holdings with more than 500 animal units (e.g. approximately 330 heads of dairy cows and young stock, or approximately 1400 sows and piglets) on the same property must meet the following requirements:
- Conclude a health advisory agreement with a veterinary practitioner.
- Develop a biosecurity plan that outlines how the herd is protected against infectious diseases.
- Purchased breeding stock must be quarantined.
- Housing for piglets and slaughter pigs to be divided into sections.
- Veal calves must be inserted in stable sections where the all-in-all-out principle is applied or alternatively in quarantine sections.
- Large sow herds and dairy herds may have up to three suppliers of animals per rolling 12 months.
The biosecurity plan that is a component of the health advisory agreement must be approved by the veterinary practitioner. When approved, the herd owner must submit the plan for scrutiny to the Regional Veterinary and Food Administration, which, if necessary, may order changes in the plan.
The rules do not apply to herds of poultry, fish and fur. In practice, the rules will apply to herds of cattle and swine as Danish sheep and goat herds at present are smaller than 500 animal units.
7 day – 30 day quarantine rule
The quarantine rules are measures of disease control aiming at slowing down the turnover of animals between holdings in order to prevent the possible spread of disease. After introduction of new animals to a holding, no cloven-hoofed animal must leave a holding until seven days after the introduction. Cloven-hoofed animals that are introduced to a holding have to stay in the holding for at least 30 days prior to the next movement. There are general exemptions for these rules, such as movements of animals to slaughter.
Trade of poultry
Any person who sells or transports poultry must keep a record of buyers or recipients of the poultry. These records must be kept for two years and may be checked by the veterinary authorities. This is an important tool of traceability during outbreaks of notifiable poultry diseases.
Cleaning and disinfection of animal trucks
Vehicles used for transport of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry must be cleaned and disinfected after each transport. The driver must keep a log of the sanitary activities at all times. These procedures can be checked at slaughterhouses, assembly centres, at animal holdings or at police checks.
The agricultural industry has a system with compulsory wash and disinfection of animal transport vehicles before entering Danish farms as a part of their internal code of practice.
Outdoor pig farms
Outdoor pig farms must be surrounded by a double fence to prevent the public from feeding the pigs, to prevent wild boars to enter the premises and to keep the pigs in the field. If the public can approach the fence, the distance between the inner and outer fence must be ten meters; otherwise the distance must be five meters. Alternative designs of fence may be permitted provided sufficient security. The fence must have warning signs, saying that it is illegal to feed the pigs.
Wild boar has been the source of infection in outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever in European swine herds at several occasions. Denmark does not have a free-range population of wild boar. Stray animals, possibly from fenced populations of wild boars or from wild populations in neighbouring countries, have occasionally been observed. The current policy states that stray wild boars must be killed.
To assist in proper and swift implementation of the preventive elements of the Danish contingency plans, three alert levels have been defined.
The above mentioned biosecurity measures are in operation at the alert level “low”, i.e. when there is no particular threat to Denmark from outbreak of a list 1 disease, such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever and avian influenza, in Europe.
The alert level is raised to “moderate”, if there is an outbreak of i.e. foot-and-mouth disease in Southern Europe. The immediate preventive steps at this level include tracing imports of animals and animal products from the outbreak area and targeted information to stakeholders about the outbreak area and a recommendation of increased vigilance.
The alert level will be raised to “high”, if outbreaks are located closer to the Danish border, i.e. FMD in Northern Europe. As a consequence, a full veterinary risk assessment will be conducted with the purpose of targeting the actions and regulation to prevent the introduction of infection by animals, animal products, vehicles or people. National biosecurity preventive measures may include:
- Temporary ban on transport of susceptible species in areas or nationally.
- No mixing of animals from several farms on vehicles.
- Cleaning and disinfection checks on all vehicles for animal transport.
- Restricted access to farms with susceptible species.
- Hygiene rules for access to farms.
Application guidelines for approval of cleaning and disinfection places for vehicles, which have been in contact with cloven-hoofed animals etc.