You may not be a poultry producer in Ontario, but you still play a role in decreasing the risk of spreading avian influenza within the province.
So far confirmed on two farms and suspected on a third in Oxford County, the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza is incredibly deadly to birds and very easy to spread. Those traveling through the quarantine zones (there are two, 10-km zones that span two counties) should also take special care to avoid spreading the disease.
Mike Cowbrough, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs weed specialist and host of the CropLine, brought special attention to biosecurity measures that EVERYONE in agriculture should know, especially those within or near the quarantine zones.
Cowbrough reminds farmers and industry that water, wet soil, and feces can become contaminated with avian influenza and linger, even after a migrating flock has moved on. Infected soil and wild bird feces can stick to tires and undercarriages of vehicles (including ATVs!); this could transport the pathogen for miles, says Cowbrough.
Below are some key biosecurity protocols to keep in mind, courtesy of OMAFRA:
- Washing vehicles between farms is ideal and should be considered essential before visiting a poultry farm during this period of heightened biosecurity.
- Pay special attention to the vehicle’s tires.
- For footwear, remove obvious mud and organic matter first and then scrub boots especially the bottom tread with a brush and hose. Use disinfectants such as Virkon, Accel, VIROCID, Bisentry, Biosolve Plus, Biofoam, etc. Ensure adequate contact time and concentrations – read the label, follow directions!
- Also be sure to clean any equipment used on farm that could become contaminated, e.g. soil probes, shovels.
- When on poultry farms, avoid driving near barns that contain live birds, if possible.
- Drive slowly when near barns to minimize dust.
- Look for designated visitor parking.
- Avoid parking by exhaust fans and air inlets unless required as part of loading or unloading.
- Do not enter any building on the property except where you need to deliver service unless you have the express permission of the farmer or farm manager.
- Sign the visitor log book.
- Keep your own records identifying where you have been and when.
The April 23rd edition of the CropLine, hosted by Mike Cowbrough, is here.