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Winter 2002

Safe Keeping
By Beth Forbes

Image: United States of America

Research provides new standards for livestock safety measures

International animal disease crises and increased awareness of the potential for bioterrorism have placed added significance on disease prevention as a way to protect American livestock.

Whether intentional or accidental, the possibility of a major disease outbreak among U.S. livestock is a real concern for health and government officials.

Purdue has established the National Biosecurity Resource Center for Animal Health Emergencies to help avert such catastrophes. The center offers information via a Web site designed to help handle the challenges of animal health emergencies. The center is a resource for government officials, producers, veterinarians, commodity groups and others interested in learning about biosecurity measures, which are based on scientific research.

"Disease prevention is a big key in maintaining a secure livestock industry," says Sandy Amass, assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences and center director. "Producers follow procedures they've done for years without knowing whether or not they really work."

In addition to information on disease prevention, cleaning and disinfecting, the site includes state-by-state resources and regulations regarding nutrient management, reportable diseases and carcass disposal.

"In the event of a real animal-health emergency, the Web site will serve as a readily available resource for providing producers and decision-makers with information on proper handling measures," Amass says.

Last fall, Amass spent some time evaluating biosecurity measures at the Plum Island research facilities in New York. She tested biosecurity measures, such as hand washing and showering, to see if they would prevent people from spreading foot and mouth disease (FMD). The government center is the only place in this country where the live FMD virus can be studied.

Amass plans on presenting the results of her study this June at an international meeting. "The Plum Island experience was very exciting and, although we don't have all the lab work back yet, we have learned a lot from the study," she says.

 

 

 

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