Contingency Planning for Notifiable Disease
Movement controls, culling, cleaning
By Dr Zoe Davies, NPA
If you find unknown or suspicious symptoms in your pigs or other animals on the farm (sheep, cattle or poultry), contact your vet, who will decide whether to call in Animal Health.
If the Animal Health veterinary inspector attends, he or she may decide to serve a Restriction Notice on the premises. Make sure you understand all of the conditions and ask if you are unsure.
The following should be observed:
- Stop all livestock movements from the farm until the situation is clear.
- Provide suitable disinfection facilities at the farm entrance.
- Stop all deliveries to the farm (including semen, so inform the stud) unless absolutely necessary.
- Absolutely essential deliveries should be left outside the farm — do not allow any vehicles onto your unit.
- Put all feed deliveries on hold unless absolutely necessary (you'll need to inform the feed company).
- Stop all unnecessary visitors to your farm (including regular visits such as the knackerman and pest control).
- Any visitors who do come onto the farm must leave their dirty clothes at the farm and not enter another pig unit or central office (for larger companies) for 72 hours.
- Make sure your staff are aware of these responsibilities and they observe biosecurity protocols.
- Ensure any staff who have their own pigs, or look after other pigs, find suitable staff cover, so they do not go from your pigs to theirs.
- Stop all exports from the farm, including muck to other units, and feed to other units if you have your own mill on site.
- If you have recently sent pigs to the abattoir (and they are still there) you will need to make the haulier and the abattoir aware of the situation.
- Ensure dead stock is secured in suitable containers to prevent access by vermin.
- Make sure your paperwork is in order (visitor book, site map and grid reference, feed tickets, movement book, AI and vet med deliveries).
- Inform NPA or Bpex who will be ready to support you if needed.
- The length of time taken for testing will vary with the disease but results should be back in 1-3 days. But if Animal Health are convinced disease is present (ie. if you are a "hot tracing" and have accepted pigs from a confirmed positive unit), they may press ahead with a cull before the lab results are back.
IF TESTS COME BACK NEGATIVE
If the tests come back negative, normal life can resume.
But note that pigs may only be moved off the farm once written confirmation of the removal of movement restrictions has been received.
Inform all those who were warned of the situation that you are returning to business as usual.
Update your veterinary health plan and biosecurity protocol with your vet to minimise risk of a repeat incident.
IF NOTIFIABLE DISEASE IS CONFIRMED
If notifiable disease is confirmed Defra will serve you with a second restriction notice (disease confirmed). Your farm will be known as an Infected Premises (IP) and placed in a 3km Protection Zone (PZ) – all farms within the zone will be inspected and placed under movement restrictions. A Surveillance Zone (SZ) extending 10km around your IP will also be put in place — livestock within this area will also be subject to movement restrictions.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON YOUR FARM
Animal Health will need access to your movement book, visitor book and feed tickets for tracings of:
- Any livestock movements on/off the farm in the previous three months.
- Any deliveries to the farm (feed, straw, veterinary products etc).
- Any deliveries made from the farm (including deadstock collection).
- Any visitors to the farm.
- Tracings of AI couriers.
- Staff with access to other pigs
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO
- Supply the feed mill with any necessary protocols for feed lorry access.
- Ask Animal Health for a licence before anything can be moved on/off a unit.
- Arrange for your stock to be valued — no agreement for slaughter should be made until compensation rates (if applicable) are agreed.
- Defra will appoint a valuer. The level of compensation will depend on the disease and whether the animals have clinical signs or not, but you will get some compensation for them.
- Prepare your staff — this will be a very difficult time for you, your staff and their families.
- If your staff have access to other pigs, they will need to make arrangements for them to be looked after by others. You will also need to notify Animal Health of this in case the disease has transferred to them.
- Update all relevant parties (stock owner, haulier, abattoir, feed and other suppliers, Farm Assurance and NPA) on the latest situation.
- Inform neighbouring farms of the situation and the symptoms they need to remain vigilant for. Defra will alert farms within the entire zone of the restrictions.
- You do not have to speak to the Press — but NPA/Bpex will be happy to take the calls or brief you if you decide you want to.
If your animals are found positive they will be culled. Defra will organise the cull and removal of infected carcasses. They will also carry out the initial primary cleaning disinfection.
However, you will be responsible for the more thorough secondary cleaning and disinfection which will involve removal of bedding, slurry, muck and proper cleaning of the buildings.
Defra will advise on level of disinfection required and stand-down period to observe. Before you can fully restock you may also be required to put "sentinel" pigs through the system to make sure the disease has really gone. These will be observed and may be regularly blood tested during the period that they are on your farm.
• Please note — this contingency planning document is for advice only and to give you an idea of what to expect. It does not override any instructions given to you by Animal Health vet or other official as situations may differ at the time and local guidance must be adhered to.