Surveillance and Traceability Key for Biosecurity

CANADA - Manitoba's chief veterinary officer has said that advance planning for animal health emergencies is critical for the protection of Canada's livestock industries.
calendar icon 1 February 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Outbreaks of BSE, foot and mouth disease and avian influenza have heightened public awareness of the risk of foreign animal disease.

According to Farmscape, Dr. Wayne Lees, the chief veterinary officer for Manitoba, says the three main tools for defending against disease include biosecurity on the farm, an early warning surveillance system and the ability to trace where an infected animal originated and went.

He says that animal diseases are different from other emergencies because, if we think of an emergency like a flood or a hurricane, the bad thing happens very quickly and then it's over and we're into a recovery phase.

In an animal disease emergency we may not pick up the first case and so we may be dealing with an outbreak that is much larger than we first anticipate and it may take some time until we can determine that so it's important for us to have these early detection tools in place so that we pick these things up as quickly as we can.

If your look around the world most of these serious disease outbreaks have lasted anywhere between three and six months.

That's the time from discovery to actually controlling the infection.

That was the case in the United Kingdom with the foot and mouth disease outbreak, same issue when we had avian influenza in British Columbia or when they had classical swine fever in Europe.

The recovery though is much much longer and that can take a year or two years because there's a lot of repercussion that takes place after these outbreaks are found and it takes a long time to get back into the trade market afterwards.

Dr. Lees notes the swine industry has implanted biosecurity, is working on traceability and is active in early warning surveillance and is well positioned for dealing with a foreign animal disease outbreak.

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