Agriculture producers are reminded to remain vigilant in their biosecurity measures and are encouraged to re-evaluate and tighten their on-farm practices.
Proper biosecurity plans are important to prevent the spread of disease and protect animal lives. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture lists three basic measures to minimize damage: having a premises ID, properly tagging animals, and implementing a rigorous biosecurity plan. Producers can register for a premises ID on the PDA website or call 717-772-2852 for more information. A premises ID is required to order free RFID cattle tags or Scrapie tags for sheep and goats. RFID cattle tags are also available through the PDA website, and Scrapie tags can be ordered by contacting the USDA at 866-873-2824.
While having a premises ID and proper tags can help prevent the spread of diseases, proper biosecurity measures can keep diseases from ever reaching the farm. Best practices include simple, easy-to-follow steps, like naming a biosecurity coordinator; posting signage on the farm; keeping clean and dirty areas separate; requiring clean, sanitized clothes, boots and vehicles; isolating animals entering the farm from other animals; safely handling manure, carcasses and other waste; and reducing feral birds or rodents, which can carry bacteria and viruses.
Animal health officials are increasingly concerned regarding high path avian influenza (HPAI) and African Swine Fever (ASF). According to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), HPAI “spreads rapidly and is often fatal to chickens and turkeys.” HPAI has previously been detected in U.S. domestic poultry and can be introduced by migratory waterfowl.
ASF is a “highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral swine of all ages,” according to APHIS. The USDA recently suspended the transport of all live swine, swine products and byproducts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland United States. ASF has not been detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, but it has been confirmed in the Dominican Republic. It has never been found in the United States.