The power of digital biosecurity to improve practices

By Lorraine Stevenson-Hall, Biosecurity & Stakeholder Relations Lead

Biosecurity is one of the most powerful tools for disease prevention and preparedness. There are so many factors impacting biosecurity that effective and consistent implementation can be challenging. Digitizing biosecurity facilitates monitoring in real-time so that breaches in protocol can be detected immediately. It also allows data to be visualized so that personnel are more aware of protocol breaches, leading to improved practices.

A report was completed by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) on the 2022 outbreak of Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in France. The report observed that despite strong implementation of biosecurity measures on farm, HPAI could have been introduced by even the slightest flaw in implementing daily and methodical biosecurity measures.1

 

Even the slightest flaw in implementing daily and methodical biosecurity measures could have been enough for HPAI to be introduced.

 

Errors are rampant. A research study of biosecurity errors made on entering and exiting poultry barns found that of 552 visits, 79% made mistakes related to handwashing alone. Via video surveillance, it was observed that people made an average of four biosecurity errors per farm visit. When people were observed over several visits, the average increased to six errors per visit.2

It’s no different for swine diseases. A study of Italy’s 2015 outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea found that vehicle cleaning and disinfecting procedures were effective in only 54% of trucks tested.3

So, what’s to be done? The solution, or at least part of it, is digitizing biosecurity so that farm owners/managers can see what’s really happening on their farm. A recent study revealed that digitizing biosecurity resulted in improved compliance by personnel.4

A company with 45 sites (farms, a slaughterhouse, a feed mill, and a truck wash) used an external biosecurity software system to digitally record people and vehicle visits. Visits were automatically recorded by a mobile app (people) or vehicle GPS. Each time a visit was recorded, the system determined whether it complied with company’s biosecurity protocols. A notification of the visit was sent to the farmer or farm manager.

Visits or movements were classified into 3 categories depending on whether they followed the company’s biosecurity protocols:

  • Unauthorized visits – biosecurity protocols were met and visit was allowed
  • Denied visits – protocols were not followed and farm entry was denied
  • At-risk visits – protocols were not followed but entry to the farm was allowed

During the first 49 days of implementation, there were a high number of visits to farms that did not follow the rules. After 49 days, the number of unauthorized visits noticeably decreased and then stabilized. The authors attribute the drastic decrease in authorized visits to the digitization of biosecurity.

 

The digitization of biosecurity allowed the data to be visualized, resulting in improved compliance with protocols and stronger biosecurity.

 

After a few weeks of recording visits and alerts, meetings were held with all types of farm visitors (maintenance, visitors, veterinarians, transportation, etc.), to show them their own data and how it did not fit with the company’s biosecurity protocols. The digitization of biosecurity allowed the data to be visualized, resulting in improved compliance with protocols and stronger biosecurity.

Using technology to constantly monitor implementation of biosecurity procedures makes personnel more aware and careful of what they are doing. This makes digital biosecurity a powerful tool for farms and companies to protect against disease. Learn how Farm Health Guardian digitizes biosecurity and helps enhance compliance. Visit www.farmhealthguardian.com.