Photo source: Shelburne Farms
The Potential for a Foreign Animal Disease Disaster
Some foreign animal diseases (FAD) are highly infectious and can cause mass casualties in livestock and poultry. These diseases are not normally found in the United States and U.S. territories but have the potential to cause significant animal health and economic impacts. The FAD known as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is the most contagious foreign animal disease of cloven-hooved animals such as cows, pigs, goats and sheep.
This type of high consequence disease has the potential to send milk prices plummeting, interrupt animal and product movements, and require quarantine and depopulation of affected livestock
The Biosecurity Mapping Project
During the summer of 2023, UVM Research Associate Professor Julie SmithOpens a new window will embark on the Vermont Dairy Mapping Project, to help farmers use a map planning tool to prepare their response to a foreign animal disease introduction, such as foot-and-mouth diseaseOpens a new window.
Smith and veterinary student interns will work with 40 Vermont dairy farms to introduce preparedness resources, including a newly developed biosecurity mapping tool, the Secure Ag Farm Mapping App. The mapping app was developed by students working with UVM’s Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation LaboratoryOpens a new window (SEGS Lab), with oversight by Managing Director Dr. Scott MerrillOpens a new window. The app assists with the creation of enhanced biosecurity maps based on an aerial view of the farm. It is flexible enough to be used for mapping hazards or other features of the farm for training purposes, too.
Vermont Dairy Mapping Project Goals
The goal of this project is to enhance the readiness of Vermont dairy farms, to quickly implement the level of biosecurity required in the event of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.
Plans will be created using the enhanced biosecurity plan template developed by the Secure Milk SupplyOpens a new window project, or the National Milk Producers Federation Farmers Assuring Responsible Management programOpens a new window (based on the Secure Milk Supply plan). The mapping app created by the University of Vermont (with National Animal Disease Response and Preparedness Program funds) will facilitate the development of the enhanced biosecurity map component of the plans.
By scheduling visits with up to eight farms a week over a six-week period of time, the target number of 40 farms with plans can be met. In addition to returning completed plans to the participating farms, the interns will complete a project report and submit an abstract (poster or oral) to present at a national veterinary meeting such as the American Association of Bovine PractitionersOpens a new window or the US Animal Health AssociationOpens a new window.
Funding is provided through:
- The George H. Walker Milk Research Fund.
- Farm Bill funding through the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) under cooperative agreement AP21VSSP0000C008.
- An Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant 2022-69014-37041 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Biosecurity Farm Signs
The series of biosecurity farm signs below, in English and Spanish translations, will help direct employees and any farm visitors to appropriate parking areas and farm entry points. The sign dimensions are 11″ x 8.5″ and can be printed out to laminate or for commercial printing on sturdy plastic or metal.
Enhanced Biosecurity Internship
Meet the Project Assistants/Interns
Massle Thach is currently pursuing her DVM/MPH degree at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts. She discovered her love of large animals while studying at the University of New Hampshire and has since been devoted to the One Health movement. She was drawn to the challenges and rewards of working with large animals. This led her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and public health. In her free time, she enjoys painting and is always on the lookout for new and exciting restaurants to explore. She is also the proud owner of two adorable cats named Turkey and Truffle!
Adrian is a second year veterinary student at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. He comes from Dallas, Texas, earning his bachelor’s degree in animal science at Cornell University. His interest in dairy cattle was piqued with the classes he took as an undergraduate, where he learned more about the dairy industry and working in a research lab that focused on dairy cattle reproduction. He was given the opportunity to go on-site and collect samples from the cows that were participating in a hormone study. The moment he realized that he was interested in bovine medicine was his first time palpating a cow. Most vividly he remembers how surprised he was at the cow’s height and the warmth of the body cavity. When he removed his hand he realized he wanted to dedicate his life to working with cows.