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Biosecurity - from ADGA Judge Perspective
By Joan Dean Rowe
Oct 27, 2002, 11:09pm

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NOTE: A letter posted in response to an inquiry about risks, from an ADGA Judge.
(Used with permission)

While we are all very concerned about the potential for introducing Foot & Mouth disease into the US, I think it is important to remain rational about the magnitude of risk involved with domestic travel of people (judges) and livestock.
Re: concern about traveling in airports - International travelers must first pass through customs prior to commingling with domestic travelers. At this point their shoes will be disinfected if there is a history of farm exposure. The likelihood of these travelers having been in contact with diseased animals is remote, although not zero. In terms of actual reasonable risk of secondary exposure via commingling with travelers from FMD countries, this risk, although not zero, is relatively small.
Will I judge shows that involve air travel through major airports? Yes. I always have been concerned about either taking some pathogen from my herd to animals at a distant show, just as I always am always concerned about bringing soremouth, ringworm, pinkeye, and other pathogens home to my goats. So, as usual, I will wear different clothes & shoes on my trips than I wear at home with my herd. I will, as always, put my goat-contact clothes in plastic bags and then directly into the laundry upon my return. If you would like to add an additional measure this year, you could always be sure that you wear different clothes for traveling and judging (most of us do this anyway!).
During the process of judging itself, I have always been concerned about the respiratory and mammary pathogens that may potentially be mechanically transmitted by judges. I hope all judges follow the same procedures that I follow, that is to disinfect hands at reasonably frequent intervals during judging (between classes and any time I get milk on my hands or handle an animal with a skin, eye or respiratory discharge).
Will I show my animals at fairs this year? Yes. I will however, work with the fairs I attend to ask them to post signs for visitors regarding safeguarding our livestock (see California Dept. of Food & Ag web site with recommendations for fairs, petting zoos and field days). (I am forwarding this separately). The greatest threat would be from fair visitors bring in (and discarding or feeding to animals) meat products purchased from FMD countries. While there is a ban on importation of these products, customs officials have stepped up screening of incoming travelers for these products.
If, in fact, FMD were to break out in the US, there is no question that immediate action to stop exhibitions, linear appraisal, movement of judges for shows and national sales would be called for. Further, if animals were at, for example, the national show during the time that FMD broke out in the US, animals could be prevented from leaving to return home (depending on the site of the outbreak and destination of animals). However, the FMD issue is one that we will be facing for some time to come and the likelihood of a US outbreak during the time of the national show is a small but not zero risk situation - I would not be critical of owners not wishing to expose their animals to this extremely small but not zero risk posed by showing their animals.
The fact that you are so concerned about potential transmission is actually a very good thing - it tells me that you will take to heart good routine biosecurity measures that will minimize whatever potential risk may be present!

Joan Dean Rowe, DVM, MPVM, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Population Health & Reproduction
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8743

Ph (530) 752-0292, FAX (530) 752-4278
e-mail: jdrowe@ucdavis.edu

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