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Visits from the Veternarian might need rethinking  RSS feed

 
Bryant RedHawk
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This study report just came in 2/6/2017. It raises some questions that many of us might need to consider.

Animal Disease Spread Shown Using Social Network Analysis
Researchers have shown that looking at movements of operators and vehicles between farms in the same way we look at contacts in social networks can help explain the spread of dangerous infectious diseases of livestock, such as foot-and-mouth disease.
The study, produced by Dr Gianluigi Rossi and colleagues from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna, have shown that the network of contacts originated from on-farm visits by veterinarians in dairy farms of Northern Italy displays hidden features that cannot be detected by simply looking at the frequency of visits and unveils patterns of infection otherwise unexplained.

The authors discovered that veterinarians' movements produce an unexpectedly large number of potentially infectious contacts between farms that can quickly spread dangerous livestock diseases.

The research, made possible by the availability of high-resolution data in space and time on veterinarian movements in the study area, shed light on the actual significance of operator movements in disease spread, a still poorly understood topic due to the highly diverse and complex nature of such movements and to privacy issues in data collection.

It is hoped that the research can contribute to the development of more accurate tools for predicting the spread of livestock diseases and may help implement more effective biosecurity measures in farms.

**While it is still to be solidified by additional research of incidents, this is something all animal owners might want to think about when scheduling that visit from the Vet.**

Redhawk
 
Wes Hunter
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I'd think this would apply as readily to visits TO the vet as well, seeing as the vet's office is a place where lots of sick animals go, or at least is a place where people who own sick animals go.

Considering we've typically had less-than-fruitful visits to/from our vets, combined with this study, the do-it-yourself approach becomes much more appealing.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That is very true Wes.  I've noticed a decided lack of "hygiene" by Vets and their staff, like contamination isn't a problem let alone infection spread.
We finally found a vet locally that acts more like an MD on an infectious ward at a hospital, but I still worry because his assistants don't take the same precautionary steps the DV does.
 
John Weiland
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I have to admit out vets seem pretty on the ball and hygiene oriented.  Given that we are a relatively long ways from the nearest commercial animal outfit, that crop agriculture dominates over animal ag. in our area, and that the cold winters help curb a bit of pathogen survival, we feel to be a bit safer than many from the spread of disease.  That said, even the most concerned visitors or vets, if they had just driven by/through a farmyard or operation with a bad disease problem, could unwittingly transport diseases along with the mud on their tires directly into your yard.  I could imagine this being of concern in warmer climates and regions that are wetter and muddier than most and that have a higher concentration of animal operations in the community.
 
Travis Johnson
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I would get a new vet.

I have several and I can tell you when they come on the farm it is like they are part of a nuclear power plant decontamination team. They put rubber booties over their boots, they wear zuit-suits, new latex gloves and everything is scrubbed with disinfectant before they don all this gear. And these are state vet, federal vet and private practice vets. I am pretty sure a lot of neighbors have had to take double-takes when they went by seeing all this going down and wondering what infectious agent was on my farm.

I seldom call the vet though, not because they are not great resources, but because of simple economics. A sheep costs $150 and a vet visit is $200. Anyone can do the math on that.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Travis Johnson wrote: a vet visit is $200.


Yikes!  Our vets' house call charge is about $20 and a couple times the large animal vet came by to help without charging us at all. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The study by Dr Gianluigi Rossi focuses on transference by automobile tires and rubber boots and outer wear. If you think about it, tires will pick up mud, gravel, etc. and there is a possibility of those items traveling to the next farm.
Like wise many Vets use rubber boots on the farm, these may or may not be cleaned between uses as the Vet goes farm to farm. Same goes for coveralls

I have known Vets that use "shoe covers" over their rubber boots along with tyvek overalls and rubber gloves that all go into the farms burn barrel or are otherwise disposed of at the Vets leaving the site. That is good hygiene practice.
I also have known Vets that use rubber boots and coveralls, both going on at the time of their arrival at a farm and these items come off at the end of the visit and are stowed, as is, in their vehicle until their next stop. That is nor really good hygiene practice.

The study will end up showing correlations between these types of hygiene practices and their effectiveness in transference prevention. It's just the same as human transference via bad hygiene practices such as hand washing. Same principal different situation.

It is just something to be aware of and observe should you need a farm call from the Vet.
The same can happen by attending livestock shows or trips to any sale barn or any other time you might have animals from other sites in the same space or people  traveling from site to site.
Live stock shows are considered safer for now because of the precautions most all of them take to prevent such things from happening, but they can and do still happen.
We attended a show two years ago and did not touch any of the animals, we then went home and soon found that we had somehow brought home hog lice.
Now if we go to a show we put on disposable foot and body gear and toss it before we get in our vehicle, we also run the vehicle through an automatic carwash before we go home.
Better safe than sorry is my new motto when it comes to farm or show visits.

Redhawk
 
Wes Hunter
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Then, I wonder how all this jives with the experiments and observations of Sir Albert Howard and Newman Turner (among others) that showed no negative affect on healthy, 'organically' (pre-certification nonsense) raised cattle when they were exposed to infectious organisms, either by direct contact with contagious cattle (with foot-and-mouth disease, in Howard's case) or by being injected with them (mastitis bacteria, in Turner's).

Were their cases overstated, or were their cattle that healthy, or did they maybe have the added benefit of a world not yet poisoned by the worst of industrial agriculture?
 
Travis Johnson
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To me the original report was very vague, but I understand what they are getting it.

Looking up biosecurity on the internet will give you a broad range of options for securing your farm, but at what point does the cost outweigh the worst case scenario for an outbreak? In real world terms, a homesteader with 6 goats would be better off putting the animals down and starting fresh then instituting a wide range of biosecurity measures that never have a payback return.

To me the report seems focused on veterinarians when that is probably the least of my worries; they just don't show up here all that often. From a probability point of view, I would think a homesteader is actually far more likely to get a disease outbreak from their friends stopping by. I say this because their friends most likely have same species livestock, think nothing of biosecurity measures and stop by with far more frequency. The same can be said for a cattle dealer; how many stops do they make in a given day and aid in spreading disease? And of course sale barns, if that is where a person picks up their livestock.

It is interesting that here in Maine a lack of veterinarians is what started spreading disease. Prior to 2008 when the state had money to spend, they had 6 assistant state vets and one of their jobs was to go to agricultural fairs and inspect livestock before they were put on display. That stopped a lot of livestock disease spread, but when we lost all but 1, and now no vets inspect showed animals, disease is spread quickly from flock to flock. If anyone has ever gone to a fair in Maine one livestock is noticeably missing; sheep, because us producers refuse to take our sheep to disease prone livestock barns. It is sad because the public does not get to see a wide range of sheep breeds, just one or two, because the rest of us are staying home. Everyone losses...
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When I think of honeybee colony collapse disorder, I believe that the primary cause is sending 70% of the honeybees in the country to a tiny area in California each winter, and then redistributing them to the rest of the country a month or so later. I can't imagine any practice that would be more likely to spread diseases. 

I have quarantined my farm against importing new onions or garlic.

I watch purslane trying to encroach in one of my fields. It's entry point is the farm gate...

 
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