Poultry Service Industry Biosecurity Guide
Appendix 1

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1. Background

Biosecurity is a general description for a set of measures designed to protect Canada's animal resources from foreign and established infectious disease agents and pests at the national, regional, and premises' levels. Clearly, no single biosecurity measure provides an answer to preventing all diseases. However, implementing an integrated program of related precautionary measures can minimize the introduction and spread of disease and pests.

1.1. Impact of Disease

The presence of disease has a negative impact on overall productivity, resulting in economic losses for the producer, service sector, national industry, and potentially the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) of Canada.

1.2. Disease transmission

Many factors influence the ability or risk of disease spread among animal populations, due to the complex interactions between animals, humans, pathogenic organisms, and their environment.

The movement of animals that are

  • clinically ill,
  • sub-clinically infected,
  • stressed,
  • recently vaccinated with a modified live vaccine, or
  • recently recovered

have the greatest risk for transmitting disease. The contamination of fomites (for example, soil, objects, footwear, and clothing) by the secretions and excretions of these animals also pose a potential risk.

The risk of disease transmission is directly related to contact with the disease agent (direct or indirect) and subsequent contacts with poultry or poultry housing. In most instances, the job or service performed does not matter, only the potential contact with, and transmission of, the agent to another susceptible host that is capable of incubating the agent. The precautions taken to minimize the risk of introduction and spread of a disease agent are in response to this sequence of events. It is unrealistic to believe that we can prevent the risks in all cases. There have been efforts to identify those interventions that are truly effective and have a good impact on risk reduction. Some level of risk will always remain.

Visitors, including service sector staff members who come into contact with poultry and their environs, may mechanically transmit disease on contaminated footwear, clothing, hands, hair, equipment, and vehicles. Therefore, service sector staff who are visiting premises should always assume disease agents are present, be aware of the risk they pose for transmitting disease, and take appropriate precautions.

1.3. Why biosecurity is important

Maintenance of the highest possible animal health status is vitally important to the sustainability and profitability of the agricultural sector in Canada. Future access to domestic markets will increasingly depend on our ability to demonstrate freedom from serious animal diseases and pests. Biosecurity standards will play an increasing role in meeting processor requirements, quality assurance programs, and in retaining market access and competitiveness. There is an increasing trend to ensure health certification as an indicator of quality assurance and biosecurity in purchasing and moving live animals. Consumers today have access to a wide variety of information. They have specific expectations for acceptability of products, as well as for welfare and biosecurity in the production of animals.

Foreign animal diseases (FADs) that may be introduced and become production-limiting diseases – commonly found in parts of Canada – can spread from farm to farm and result in animal sickness, death, and economic loss. To implement sound biosecurity practices at the premises, and at regional and national levels is the best defence against disease.

Implementing an effective biosecurity plan can help

  • improve or maintain animal health, welfare, and productivity;
  • positively impact quality and food safety of end product;
  • reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of endemic and foreign diseases;
  • protect human health;
  • minimize the potential for costs and revenue losses;
  • reduce antimicrobial use and support prudent use;
  • protect the ability to move animals;
  • protect service industries (for example, feed suppliers);
  • protect export markets; and
  • assist in domestic marketing.
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