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Prevent infection  –  Food animals


This section provides resources on different strategies and tools for infection prevention and control interventions in animal farming. These aim to help limit the spread of disease and antibiotic resistance.

2 principles to prevent diseases in animals

There are two main principles to prevent infectious diseases in animals. The first one is to diminish exposure to the infectious agent and the second one is to increase the animal’s ability to resist disease.

Measures to diminish exposure

Total exclusion from exposure: Eradication

To be able to eradicate a specific infectious disease, the epidemiology of the infectious agent must be known. Also, diagnostic capacity to identify infected animals or holdings as well as technical infrastructure to be able to stop the spread of the disease and eliminate the source of infection is essential. After the eradication, measures to prevent reinfection must be implemented. Eradication can occur on several levels such as locally on individual farms, within regions or on a national level.

Partial exclusion from exposure: Prevention

By disease prevention, the microbial exposure is minimized to a level where no clinical disease is manifested in the heard. Important measure to reach this are:

  • Improved hygiene
  • Isolation of sick animals
  • Avoiding introduction of animals of unknown health status into the heard
  • Use of all-in, all-out concept with cleaning and disinfection between batches of animals

Measures to increase host resistance

The end goal is to reach a health oriented farming system, where both the physiological and behavioral needs of the animals are met. To reach optimal general disease resistance of an animal, several factors have to be fulfilled, such as:

  • Nutritional needs
  • Animal rearing and housing
  • Management routines

Also, immunity of the animal to specific infection can be stimulated by the use of vaccines. Vaccination is an efficient measure to prevent specific bacterial diseases.

Disease prevention in aquaculture – the Norwegian example

Norway is one of the main salmon producers in the world, with an annual production of Atlantic salmon of 1.3 million tons. It is also one of the countries with the lowest use of antibiotics in the aquaculture sector, showing that large scale production of salmons are possible without regular use of antibiotics. Norway has managed to dramatically decrease the use of antibiotics, which peaked in 1989-1990, and at the same time increase the aquaculture production more than tenfold. The most important factors to achieve this has been the development of new vaccines and vaccination strategies, sanitary measures to prevent horizontal disease transmission (between sites and between salmon year classes), strong legislative measures and consensus between governmental authorities and the industry that effective disease control is the main focus.

Awareness and education

Awareness raising and education is important if infection prevention and control measures shall be accepted and implemented properly. Passive educational strategies (such as posters and leaflets) are easier to implement but less effective compared with active strategies, such as one-on-one educational sessions addressing relevant topics. At farm level, it has been shown that increasing farmers’ awareness of good farming practices and biosecurity is important. See also the RAISE AWARENESS focus area for more inspiration and materials for awareness raising.

Evaluate impact of interventions

In MEASURE, you can access tools and resources to help determine the impact of interventions and conduct studies on a variety of topics that relates to rational use in animal farming:

Selected Resources

Resource Description
Book chapter that summarizes the main principles and strategies for prevention and control of infectious diseases in animals. See chapter 25 (in Part 2 of Prevention of Infectious Diseases in Livestock and Wildlife).
This best practice framework from EPRUMA provides the building blocks that the farmer can implement to develop a farm-specific health plan.
Use of Vaccines in Finfish Aquaculture Fact sheet with basic information about vaccine use in finfish aquaculture (IFAS Extension, University of Florida, 2014).
Improvement of Biosecurity and Production Practices in Hatcheries and Parent Flocks (PDF) This FAO document shows how small scale parent flock farms and hatcheries in Vietnam can improve conditions while also making a larger profit. See also fact sheet here (PDF) on how simple biosecurity measures can change a farmer’s life.
Where There is No Vet A guide book for farmers to aid them to keep their animals healthy. Has informative chapters on disease prevention and also good information on how medicine should be labelled.

Awareness and education

Resource Description
Five keys to growing safer fruits and vegetables: promoting health by decreasing microbial contamination Training manual on how to grow safer crops, which has been developed to support food safety education of rural workers, by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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