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Prevent infection  –  Food animals

Getting started

Work on infection prevention and control is extremely important, but not trivial. Here we describe five steps to help you get started and structure the work.


To identify and engage stakeholders is an important step. Depending on the end goal, they may be farmers, veterinarians, paraprofessionals, academics or government officials. A stakeholder analysis tool can be used to help identify stakeholders and their level of interest and power to influence. Assemble a team of relevant and interested people to coordinate work and motivate stakeholders to take action. Participatory processes have been shown to be effective tools to motivate engagement by creating ownership in the process.


Measures to prevent infections have to be specific to the needs and problems on the individual farm. A possible starting point is to do an analysis of the herd management, biosecurity and health situation of the farm/s. This will indicate what measures that will be valuable and applicable at specific farms. In order to evaluate the health status of the herd, it is good to keep records of individual animal’s health and medicine use. Ideally this should be based on both clinical observations within the herd and recording of lesions at slaughter. Data on weight gain, pregnancy results and farrowing rate are also valuable for evaluation of the health status of the herd.

Biosecurity online tools

Calculate your on farm biosecurity using these online calculators:

The Biocheck.UGent app developed by the University of Gent can be used to evaluate the quality of on-farm biosecurity.

The FarmBiosecurity app allows you to create a biosecurity action plan along six essential principles
1.    Farm inputs
2.    People, vehicles and equipment
3.    Production practices
4.    Feral animals and weeds
5.    Farm outputs
6.    Training, planning and recording

It may also be relevant to start by examining knowledge level and practices among the target stakeholders. At farm level, it has been shown that increasing farmers’ awareness of good farming practices and biosecurity is important. Information about setting up surveys is collected in MEASURE – Knowledge and practices.


A good plan for infection prevention will have clear aims and objectives and cover which actions should be taken by whom and when. It should consider what resources are needed and how to measure progress. The plan can include risk assessments, a monitoring and evaluation framework and a communication plan.

Efforts to improve infection prevention should ideally take a multifaceted approach, combining different strategies into a package that is manageable in the setting and takes advantage of synergies between measures. Possible areas to focus on include:

  • Improved animal management practices: Making animals less susceptible to disease by improving feed, reducing stress, introducing vaccines and creating guidelines.
  • Biosecurity: Reducing the risk for diseases entering, spreading within and leaving a farm. Create a biosecurity plan.
  • Facility design: Building or modifying facilities to accommodate new biosecurity routines, reduce animal stress and support health.
  • Monitoring and surveillance: Keeping track of animal health, infections, production parameters and medicine use by improved record keeping. Perform audits and feedback. See MEASURE – Infections and Consumption.
  • Awareness, training and education: To help change attitudes, habits and behavior among farmers and farm staff, advisors and veterinary professionals, but also to increase acceptance of interventions. 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. See also RAISE AWARENESS – Education and training materials and How do people change.


When you have agreed on what to do, it’s time to start implementing. No matter how much time has been spent planning, problems can arise and the needs or resources can rapidly change. Piloting interventions can reveal some of these problems and test the feasibility and impact of the interventions. Successful pilot projects can then be scaled up, for example by extending the timeframe or including more farms.

See also Interventions for more resources.


Evaluating work is important to see if goals are being reached and to identify areas of improvement. Encourage improvement and promote learning from experiences without fear of negative consequences.

Communication of results gives feedback to collaborating partners and other stakeholders. Positive progress and all partners should be acknowledged and public recognition should be given. Affirmation of hard work will provide incentive for stakeholders to continually improve and be involved in the process.

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:

Resources below have been separated into the following tables:

  • Guidelines and standards (reference documents/guidelines from international organizations).
  • Engage and assess
  • Plan, implement and evaluate

Selected Resources

Guidelines and standards

Resource Description
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS International Food Standards: Antimicrobial Resistance Standards for the responsible use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals. The “Code of practice to minimize and contain antimicrobial resistance” (CAC/RCP 61-2005) describes the responsibilities for regulatory authorities, veterinary pharmaceutical industry, wholesalers, retailers, veterinarians and farmers. “Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance” (CAC/GL 77-2011) gives guidance on assessing the risk to human health from foodborne antibiotic resistant bacteria, and determining appropriate management strategies to control those risks. Available in English, French and Spanish.
Guide to good farming practices for animal production food safety Guidance from FAO/WOAH for Competent Authorities that assist farmers and other stakeholders in keeping livestock to produce safe food. Spanish and French versions included.
Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Appropriate Antimicrobial Use in the Animal Sector Guidelines developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda for farmers on how to improve infection prevention programs, antimicrobial use practices, and record keeping for farm animals and veterinary medical products. This first edition is focused on five livestock production systems, namely cattle farming, fish farming, goat and sheep farming, pig farming, and poultry farming.
Guidelines for Veterinary Personal Biosecurity Example guidelines from the Australian Veterinary Association for veterinarians and animal handlers on how to reduce the risk of contracting disease from animals (zoonotic disease) and prevent animal disease. Provides information on infection control and how to handle high risk situations for veterinary practices of all types. Also contains a model infection control plan.

Engage and assess

Resource Description
Building Coalitions for Containing Antimicrobial Resistance: A Guide Guide by SIAPS for how to establish and maintain effective multisectoral antimicrobial resistance working groups. The chapter “Mobilize support” details how to identify and mobilize stakeholders, and “Understand the local situation” describes tools and strategies to assess the local antibiotic resistance situation. Provides templates and sample interview forms that can be adapted for different local contexts. An older version is available in Spanish and French.
Community Toolbox, chapter 7: Encouraging Involvement in Community Work Guidance. The Community Toolbox aims to offer people engaged in local and community work a depository of tools and advice for building healthier communities. Chapter 7 for example covers: The importance to involve all people affected by the problem (section 7) and Identifying and analyzing stakeholders (section 8).

Plan, implement and evaluate

Resource Description
Prudent and efficient use of antimicrobials in pigs and poultry Manual to help farmers and animal health workers to use antibiotics prudently and prevent infections. Gives an overview of measures that can be taken and practical recommendations on how to improve the use of antibiotics and animal productivity. Also available in Russian.
Best-practice framework for the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals – Reaching for the next level (PDF 0,9MB) Best practice framework from EPRUMA that 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.
FarmBiosecurity Information, tools and manuals. Provides tools and manuals on how producers can reduce the risks of diseases entering or spreading on farms. Also includes information about diseases affecting crops and animals. Multiple animal species, Australian setting.
EIP-AGRI Focus Group on Reducing antibiotics in pig farming: Final report Report that proposes concrete actions within three overarching areas: improvement of animal health, alternatives to antibiotics and changing behaviours and attitudes. Summary available in Spanish. Pigs, European setting.
Good practices for biosecurity in the pig sector – Issues and options in developing and
transition countries
Guidance from FAO that outlines the biosecurity principles to limit pig-to-pig transmission of disease and reduce the impact of infectious swine diseases, including economic losses. Pigs, specifically aimed at LMICs.
Community Toolbox, chapter 6, section 1: Developing a plan for communication Manual for how to develop a communication plan for good, consistent, clear communications both internally and externally.

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