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.
Measures to prevent infections, such as biosecurity measures and use of vaccines, are among the most important tools to decrease antibiotic use in the animal sector without compromising with animal health, welfare and productivity.
There are no universal best practices for disease prevention at animal farms, but there are a number of measures that can be taken to improve infection prevention and control and reduce antibiotic use.
Some example areas to work in to improve practices are:
- Educating animal health professionals and farmers
- Preventive measures (vaccination, hygiene)
- Record keeping
Improved biosecurity and herd management optimization have been shown to increase productivity parameters and decrease disease treatment incidence in farm animals. Introduction and continuous improvement of biosecurity measures is essential for a health oriented farming system.
What is biosecurity?
Biosecurity is the series of management steps taken to prevent the introduction of infectious agents into an animal herd or flock. It usually involves testing incoming animals, and some sort of quarantine or isolation for newly purchased or returning animals (external biosecurity). Biosecurity also includes measures to diminish the spread of an infectious agent that have reached a herd (internal biosecurity or biocontainment).
The basic components of biosecurity include:
- Segregation of new animals or sick animals to reduce the spread of infectious agents to the herd or flock.
- Cleaning of materials entering the farm/premises to remove visible dirt.
- Disinfection of materials after cleaning to inactivate any pathogens.
Relationship between biosecurity and antibiotic use
Description: Study that correlated biosecurity status with antimicrobial usage and production parameters such as weight gain and mortality. Biosecurity scores were calculated with the Biocheck.UGent tool.
Place: Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden.
Setting: Pig farms, farrow to finish.
Finding: Higher biosecurity scores correlated with improved productivity and health, such as higher daily weight gain and lower incidence of antibiotic treatment.
The end goal good husbandry practices 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
Poor husbandry practices lead to increased stress and diseases among the animals and thus affect productivity negatively.
Vaccines can be used to increase host immunity to specific pathogens. The documented efficacy of vaccines in disease prevention, suggests that both antibacterial and antiviral vaccination might reduce the need for antimicrobials by improving animal health and welfare when infections are present.
Autogenous vaccination reduces antimicrobial usage and mortality
Description: A large pig breeding herd suffered from recurring outbreaks of a severe skin infection (exudative epidermitis). Sows were in a four-week batch production system. Pigs were weaned and moved to a nursery unit at an age of three weeks. At ten weeks, pigs were sold to fattening farms. Clinical signs of infection were seen one week after weaning and peaked at the third week. Almost 30% of pigs had signs of infection, leading to increased mortality and lower sales prices. Treatment with antibiotics and topical disinfectant had little effect.
Place: Pig farm, Belgium.
Setting: Commercial 1000-sow herd.
Intervention: Bacteria (mainly Staphylococcus hyicus) were identified as probable cause of infection, and were used to create a vaccine at Biovac Santé Animale in France. Antibiotic prophylaxis was stopped and parts of the parent herd was vaccinated, others serving as control.
Finding: Antibiotic use to treat the disease decreased from a total of 89 grams in non-vaccinated groups to 40 grams in the vaccinated groups. Total mortality decreased from 7% to 4%. Vaccination had a major impact, but was not sufficient alone to eradicate the disease. Authors suggest further improvement of the vaccine and improvement in other husbandry practices.
Feed composition and additives are another alternative that can be used to increase immunity and reduce the need for antimicrobials. “Protective diets” are recommended for particular age groups, especially around weaning, when there is a high risk of diarrhea due to change in the piglets’ diet. Feed additives include:
- Microminerals such as copper and zinc, that have been shown to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal infection in weaned pigs.
- Probiotics containing live microorganisms including bacillus, yeast and lactic-acid producing bacteria. The effects of probiotics are variable and their mechanisms of action are not completely understood.
- Prebiotics such as polysaccharides and dietary fibers that can be used to increase gut health. These promote growth of bacteria that are associated with a healthy gut.
- Dietary acidifiers such as formic, lactic or benzoic acid that have been shown to increase the nutrient digestibility, increased growth performance, and reduced diarrhea They have been shown to reduce the occurrence of Salmonella and E. coli.
- Phytogenic feed additives that have a positive effect on production performance of pigs.
Awareness and education
Awareness raising and education is important for infection prevention and control measures to 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 infection prevention in animal farming:
- Burden of antibiotic resistance
- Antibiotic resistance
- Consumption of antibiotics
- Appropriateness of use
- Quality of antibiotics
- Knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices – KABP
Resources below have been separated into the following tables:
Educational resources can be found in RAISE AWARENESS – Education and training.
|FarmBiosecurity||Information, tools and manuals. Farm Biosecurity is a joint initiative of Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia. The webpage collects information about diseases affecting crops and animals, and provides tools and manuals on how producers can reduce the risks of diseases entering or spreading. Multiple animal species|
|This best practice framework from EPRUMA describes building blocks that the farmer can implement to develop a farm-specific health plan. Also includes a decision tree for use of veterinary antibiotics in food animals. Direct download of PDF here.|
|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.|
|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).|
|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.|
|Biosecurity guide for live poultry markets (PDF 5,2MB)||Manual from FAO produced for live poultry market managers. Provides practical options for improving the hygiene and biosecurity at markets. Also Available in Chinese (simplified) and French.|
|Farm Biosecurity: Less diseases, better performance, and higher profits||Teaching sessions (slide presentations) from FAO covering important biosecurity aspects in poultry farms.|
|Pig management: Ensuring appropriate husbandry practices for profitability -Uganda smallholder pig value chain capacity development training manual||Training manual that outlines the training of smallholder farmers to improve biosecurity and practices in their farms to prevent infectious diseases and thus the need for use of veterinary drugs. Describes training sessions and includes exercises and handouts.|
|Good practices for biosecurity in the pig sector||Guidance from FAO guidance outline the biosecurity principles to limit pig-to-pig transmission of disease and reduce the impact of infectious swine diseases, including economic losses.
|Biosecurity Information Leaflets||This series of information leaflets from Animal Health Ireland aims to provide science-based, practical advice and guidelines on disease prevention and control that are easily implemented on farms.|
|Guide to good dairy farming practice||Manual developed by an IDF/FAO Project Group of the IDF Standing Committee on Farm Management. It gives dairy farmers proactive guidance on how to reach good dairy farming practice on their farm.|
|Use of Vaccines in Finfish Aquaculture||Fact sheet with basic information about vaccine use in finfish aquaculture (IFAS Extension, University of Florida, 2014).|
|Improving biosecurity through prudent and responsible use of veterinary medicines in aquatic food production||Guideline from FAO that discusses the use of veterinary medicines in aquaculture and gives examples of good practice and disease prevention measures.|
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