Preparing for a foreign animal disease with a four day exercise and more noteworthy stories

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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

August 2019

A quick checklist for exhibitors

Man and girls walking pigs at the fair

Exhibitors attending the Minnesota State Fair should utilize our simple checklist to ensure the health of all animals and people attending the fair.

The steps are broken down into three categories; "at the fair," "before returning home," and "at home."

At the State Fair:

  • Report health concerns to the official veterinarian.
  • Don't share equipment with other exhibitors.
  • Minimize nose-to-nose contact with other livestock.
  • Minimize animal-to-human contact.
  • Avoid use of communal water sources.
  • Minimize animal stress by keeping them cool and comfortable, and providing food and water from home.
  • If you’re also caring for animals at home while exhibiting at the fair:
    • Do the chores at home first.
    • Change clothes to care for the animals at home and at the fair.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well after contact with animals.

Before returning home:

  • Clean and disinfect all equipment (tack, buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows).
  • Properly dispose of unused bedding, hay and feed.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well.

At home:

  • Shower, blow your nose, and put on clean clothes and shoes.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and trailers used to transport animals home from the fair.
  • Keep returning livestock separate from other animals for up to four weeks.
  • Feed and work with returning animals last.
  • Wear different clothes and boots when working with returning animals.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well.

Keep reading...

Upcoming swine disease exercise

The Minnesota Department Agriculture (MDA), Board of Animal Health (BAH) and University of Minnesota are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services (USDA-VS) to test emergency response capabilities for an animal disease outbreak. This is a functional exercise, involving a simulated/fictional African Swine Fever outbreak in Minnesota. Fourteen states are participating, and each state will be treated as if it has the first discovery of the disease in the U.S.

This exercise will allow the Minnesota Agriculture Incident Management Team (IMT) to work through a series of critical activities that would need to be performed if there were an ASF outbreak. This exercise is atypical in that it will be organized by testing a different function of the response each day. The Team will use current policies, procedures, and protocols to respond. 

Day 1

  • Conducting a FAD Investigation.
  • Submitting samples.
  • Lab accessioning and results messaging.
  • Control Area establishment planning.

Day 2

  • Confirming ASF in Minnesota.
  • Standing up the IMT to respond.
  • Implementing a Movement Standstill.
  • WebEOC utility.

Day 3

  • Developing a herd plan.
  • Depop, disposal, cleaning & disinfection.
  • Logistic and planning support.

Day 4

  • Biosecurity requirements for permits.
  • Issuing permits.

Exercise evaluators will observe activities and identify response gaps based on evaluation criteria. This will inform future preparedness training and exercises.

A majority of the exercise play will take place at the Incident Command Post (ICP) at the Orville Freeman Building in St. Paul. There will be interaction between the Incident Coordination Group, (ICG) at USDA - Riverdale, Maryland, the ICP, University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory, state agencies and industry partners including surveillance activities being tested in the field.

If you would like to attend in person, please RSVP by September 9, 2019 with the specific days of attendance to:

Lucia Hunt
Incident Management Team Coordinator

Dogs or cats imported from foreign countries

Part of Minnesota’s efforts to prepare for an animal disease outbreak is to evaluate all potential routes for disease introduction. The Board has recognized an increase in the number of dogs being imported into Minnesota from foreign countries and is concerned about diseases being carried by these dogs, and diseases that may hitch a ride in or on kennels, blankets, toys and treats.

Diseases like rabies and canine brucellosis have been identified in dogs imported from foreign countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) enacted a temporary suspension of dogs entering the United States from Egypt in response to three rabid dogs imported from the country since May of 2015. Diseases like African Swine Fever, which could be detrimental to Minnesota’s livestock industry could be inadvertently imported with treats containing pork products.

In response, effective immediately:

Any person or organization who transports and/or receives a dog or cat into Minnesota that has been imported from a foreign country within the last 30 days must submit to the Board a copy of the dog’s or cat’s:

  1. International Health Certificate.
  2. International Import Permit (if applicable).
  3. Rabies Certificate.
  4. Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for movement from state of entry (if applicable).

Documentation must be received by the Board within seven (7) days of importation into Minnesota.

Oral rabies vaccine pilot expands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced continuing a field evaluation of an oral rabies vaccine bait called ONRAB. This is part of an ongoing effort to study the effectiveness of the vaccine and determine how best to implement its use. The program already has an oral rabies vaccine that has proven effective in raccoons, coyotes and foxes. The new vaccine is being tested for use in raccoons and skunks.

USDA Wildlife Services is distributing 2.7 million baits this month in five states, including Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. The plan is to sample raccoons and skunks before and after bait distribution to determine vaccination efficacy.

The ONRAB bait is coated with a sweet attractant, and releases vaccine when an animal bites into it. An animal could develop immunity to rabies with an adequate dose.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the bait, but are asked to leave the bait undisturbed if they encounter it. Each bait carries a toll-free number that people can call if they have additional questions concerning a bait contact. Review additional details on the APHIS website.

One Health includes animals at school

There's a lot going on with back-to-school season ticking toward an end and many students about to get back to the classroom. Animals are often part of the curriculum and can be even be class pets. Despite all the benefits of bringing animals and kids together, the CDC warns there are some risks to consider and schools should follow some general One Health guidelines:

  • Reptiles, amphibians, chickens and other poultry (ducks, turkeys), rodents, and ferrets are not suitable for schools, daycare centers, or other settings with children under 5-years-old.
  • Students should wash their hands with water and soap right after handling animals, their food, or their supplies.
  • Adults should always supervise children’s contact with animals.
  • Keep animals, including those used for dissection, away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or eaten.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all areas where animals have been.
  • Consider children who have allergies, asthma, or other illnesses before bringing animals into the classroom.
  • Make sure all animals have appropriate and regular veterinary care, and proof of rabies vaccination for animals with an approved vaccine, according to local or state requirements.

Next Meeting of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health

The next quarterly meeting of the  Board of Animal Health will be held on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. It's taking place at the Holiday Inn, 5637 Hwy 29 South, Alexandria, MN 56308.