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Infectious Disease on the Farm

Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are infectious diseases transmitted between animals and people, resulting in mild to severe illness or death. Zoonoses can spread through:

  • Direct contact—This is the transfer of germs through petting, touching, biting or scratching.
  • Indirect contact—This occurs when germs are spread through contaminated surfaces, such as pens, bedding, barns or water troughs.
  • Foodborne or waterborne transmissions—These occur when eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Cattle are one of the most likely animals to carry zoonotic diseases, so it’s essential to practice safe handling, even if an animal appears healthy. As calving season approaches, take the following precautions to limit or prevent the transmission of zoonoses:

  • Keep pen and hutches clean. Avoid urine and fecal buildup since dry feces could lead to inhaled fecal dust.
  • Disinfect surfaces. Clean rooms have a lower likelihood of transmitting zoonotic diseases.
  • Provide accessible handwashing stations. Always wash hands before and after animal handling.
  • Use boot wash stations when entering and exiting. Dirty boots can carry disease-causing organisms.
  • Wear farm-specific clothing and keep it separate from other clothing. Coveralls or laboratory coats should be worn while handling animals and taken off before returning home.
  • Quarantine sick animals away from healthy animals. When working with sick calves, tend to the healthy first and then, after changing clothes, tend to the sick.

Implementing and enforcing proper safety procedures can limit the spread of zoonoses this calving season. For more risk management guidance, contact us today.