Due to the higher risk of annual outbreaks of Avian Influenza and the risk of introducing other pathogens to establishments in Europe, it is important that biosecurity is taken to an even higher level [Source AVINED]. In addition, controlling these kinds of infections entails immense emotional damage and severe economic damage.
The mandatory provision of shower facilities is an important new measure in the hygiene regulations. A shower increases biosecurity levels on poultry establishments and reduces the risk of spreading pathogens. Scientists estimate that by taking a shower before entering the clean zone at the farm the risk of introducing animal diseases (including the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus) is many times lower (EFSA Journal ‘Avian Influenza’ 2017). The shower is part of a set of hygiene measures, whereby showering on arrival is important for the poultry establishment and showering on departure for the poultry sector.
What is the point of taking a shower?
- The fewer people allowed access to the barn, the lower the risk.
Pathogens can be transmitted in various ways. One of the greatest vectors of transmitting disease is people, via human-animal contact. This extends to farm visitors who enter the barns, such as veterinarians, advisers, inspectors, vaccination crews etc. Pathogens can be carried from A to B via footwear, clothing, skin, hair and the respiratory tract. Consequently, visitors are an easy pathway for pathogens to enter the poultry barns. A shower forms a clear physical barrier before entering the barn. This excludes visitors whose presence in the barn is not absolutely necessary.The fewer people allowed access to the barn, the lower the risk of introducing pathogens.
- Showering removes, deactivates and/or destroys pathogens.
Pathogens on the skin, in the hair and in the respiratory tract/nasal passages attach to dust particles. These dust particles are not removed when clothing and footwear is changed. Infection by pathogens is therefore a possibility. Certain pathogens (e.g. mycoplasma) can even survive in dust particles for one to several days. Showering thoroughly removes dust particles and along with them, the pathogens. Showering will also deactivate and destroy pathogens such as AI and NCD viruses. These viruses have a greasy outer layer that is sensitive to soaps and solvents.
- Prevent introduction of asymptomatic diseases
The symptoms of certain diseases are clearly noticeable in animals, others are not. For example, in regard to LPAI (low pathogenic avian influenza) we know that in some cases infections can occur almost without showing noticeable symptoms. During this period without noticeable symptoms, the transmission of pathogens to other farms may have already taken place without your knowledge. Showering reduces the risk of transmitting these pathogens via underwear and dust.
In short, correct compliance with hygiene regulations (including mandatory showers) reduces the risk of introducing animal diseases and other pathogens to your farm. This measure contributes to robust protection of your company and the entire poultry chain.
More information about which conditions the shower should comply with? Click here.