sealPurdue News

November 2001

Purdue Biosecurity Center advises on disease prevention

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – International animal disease crises and increased awareness of the potential for bioterrorism have placed added significance on disease prevention as a way to protect American livestock. Purdue University has established the National Biosecurity Resource Center for Animal Health Emergencies to help avert such catastrophes.

The center offers information via a Web site designed to help handle the challenges of animal health emergencies. The center is a resource for government officials, producers, veterinarians, commodity groups and others interested in learning about good biosecurity measures based on scientific research.

One of the center’s first activities will be this fall when center members help evaluate biosecurity measures at the Plum Island research facilities in New York to guard against any accidental outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The government center is the only place in this country where the live FMD virus can be studied.

"Disease prevention is a big key in maintaining a secure livestock industry," said Sandy Amass, assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences and center director. "There’s a lot of dogma out there. Producers follow procedures they’ve done for years without knowing whether or not they really work."

Amass said one example of a flawed precautionary measure is the widely performed ritual of stepping through boot baths at livestock venues. "Boot baths are considered the gold standard for preventing the spread of diseases, but you could probably stand in one for 50 years and it still would not properly disinfect," she said.

Amass’ research concluded that scrubbing manure off boots and then soaking them in disinfectant or using plastic disposable boots for short visits were much more effective measures than boot baths. Her research was published in the journal of Swine Health and Production and is available at the Web site.

"About the only benefit of going through the motions of stepping in a boot bath is that it increases the awareness of employees and others of the need for biosecurity and maintaining a clean workplace," Amass said.

In addition to information on disease prevention, cleaning and disinfecting, the site includes state-by-state resources and regulations regarding nutrient management, reportable diseases and carcass disposal.

"In the event of a real animal-health emergency, the Web site will act as a readily available resource for providing producers and decision makers with information on proper handling measures," Amass said.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722,

Source: Sandy Amass, (765) 494-8052,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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