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    Biosecurity Part 2: Creating And Implementing A Biosecurity Plan

    scrabble letters spelling out "make" and "plan"
    Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
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    Veterinary Review Initiative
    This resource has been reviewed for accuracy and clarity by a qualified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with farmed animal sanctuary experience as of May 2023.

    Check out more information on our Veterinary Review Initiative here!

    This Is Part Of A Series
    If you haven’t already, be sure to read Biosecurity Part 1, which introduces key concepts that are important to be aware of before creating a biosecurity plan.

    Biosecurity measures play an important role in protecting your residents from infectious disease, but as we explained in part 1, biosecurity is not one-size-fits-all. Instead, it should be crafted to meet the needs of each individual sanctuary based on the type and degree of risk their residents face. In this resource we will guide you through the process of creating a written biosecurity plan for your sanctuary. 

    Step 1: Get The Right Folks Involved

    Creating the most appropriate and effective plan for your sanctuary depends on having the right folks involved in the process. First and foremost, we strongly encourage folks to involve their veterinarian(s) in the process of both creating a biosecurity plan and reviewing it annually. Their knowledge and experience can play a crucial role in assessing risk and identifying the most appropriate biosecurity measures to help protect your residents from infectious diseases. However, we recognize that veterinarians are busy and may have difficulty finding time to be involved in the entire process. At a minimum, you should have your veterinarian review your completed biosecurity plan so they can weigh in on whether changes should be made. Additionally, if you find yourself in a situation where enhanced biosecurity measures are necessary due to increased infectious disease risk, you should consult with your veterinarian to ensure your residents are properly protected. 

    In addition to veterinary input, you also want to involve folks who are very familiar with your day-to-day operations and current protocols. This includes activities related to habitat cleaning, feeding, healthcare, and guests (tours, school trips, events, etc.). At some sanctuaries, the founder or director may have intimate working knowledge of these aspects of the sanctuary’s operations. However, at larger organizations, you may need to include multiple people in order to have the necessary perspectives – perhaps a care manager, facilities director, and primary tour guide. Without including these different perspectives, you may not have a complete picture of your sanctuary’s risk factors, and/or you may implement measures that make sense in theory but don’t work in practice. Additionally, implementing protocols without involvement of those affected leads to procedural drift.

    Creating your biosecurity plan should be a group affair, but in order to avoid confusion, it’s helpful to designate someone to be responsible for overseeing the communication, training, implementation, and annual review of your biosecurity plan. This is where biosecurity coordinators come in. We recommend designating one biosecurity coordinator and at least one alternate biosecurity coordinator. When considering folks for these roles, in addition to thinking about their ability to fulfill the above responsibilities, also think about their role at the sanctuary and their other responsibilities. While a founder who is directly involved in daily animal care may make sense in the biosecurity coordinator role, one who is more removed from day-to-day operations probably does not. Also consider the schedule – ideally, you want to have your primary and alternate biosecurity coordinators to have different weekly schedules so that there is a biosecurity coordinator on site (or at least available) each day. 

    Step 2: Assess The Risks

    As mentioned in part 1, every sanctuary is going to face some degree of risk when it comes to infectious disease introduction and spread – this is why all sanctuaries should have a biosecurity plan and should have daily biosecurity measures in place. However, a sanctuary’s location, set-up, and activities can increase the degree of risk a sanctuary faces. These differences in risk mean that a biosecurity plan that provides adequate protection for one sanctuary may not be effective for another sanctuary that faces more (or simply different) risks. 

    To get an idea of your sanctuary’s risk factors and degree of risk, consider the following:

    1. Are there specific risks associated with your region?
      • Are certain infectious diseases endemic in your region?
      • Are certain infectious diseases more likely given your climate? 
      • Are certain disease vectors common based on your region and climate? 
      • Is there an active disease outbreak in your area? Or is there an outbreak elsewhere that puts your region on high alert?
      • Have regional or global surveillance programs detected pathogens that could spread to your residents?
    1. Are there specific risks associated with your sanctuary’s location or topography?
      • Do other farmed animals live on neighboring land?
      • Is the terrain such that runoff from neighboring properties that house animals is likely? What about runoff from ponds, streams, or other bodies of water?
      • Are there commercial animal agriculture operations, “hobby farms”, zoos, fairs, auction sites, live markets, slaughter houses, or other places where farmed animals are commonly kept in the vicinity?
      • Is the sanctuary on or near a roadway that is commonly used for farmed animal transport?
      • Are there natural spaces on or bordering the sanctuary that are likely home to wildlife?
      • Are there bodies of water nearby or on the property that attract wild birds or where migrating birds congregate during certain times of year?
    1. Are there specific risks associated with your sanctuary’s resident population and physical set up?
      • Are there certain infectious diseases that are particularly common in the species you care for?
      • Do species who are susceptible to many of the same communal diseases live together or in close proximity?
      • Do very young individuals live with adults (not including their immediate family)?
      • Do you care for residents who have persistent infections they could transmit to others?
      • Are wildlife able to access resident spaces?
      • Do you have a large population of particular wild species? 
      • Are there multiple entry points for vehicles and visitors?
      • Is it easy for visitors to enter the sanctuary without staff noticing?
      • Do vehicles have to drive deep into sanctuary grounds before arriving at the parking area?
    1. Are there specific risks associated with your sanctuary’s activities?
      • Does your sanctuary rescue or otherwise welcome new residents?
      • Are residents brought offsite for things other than veterinary care?
      • Does your sanctuary offer tours or allow visitors?
      • Does your sanctuary host on-site events?
      • Does your sanctuary share, borrow, or rent vehicles or equipment that is used on site?
      • Is resident bedding and/or food delivered by a farm supply store or feed mill?
      • Do care providers who are likely to have been to farms or likely to have had contact with other farmed animals do on-site visits? (think mobile veterinary services, farriers, shearers, etc.)

    Consider each “yes” to be a possible area of increased risk that warrants additional consideration in your biosecurity plan, taking into consideration that not all of the above factors carry the same degree of risk, and that the combination of some of the above factors compounds risk. Based on your answers, have a discussion about the overall degree of risk your residents face – would categorize your sanctuary’s current degree of risk as low, moderate, or high? If you care for more than one species, consider if the overall degree of risk is different for different species based on the above factors. 

    Map It Out
    It can be helpful to print out a map of the sanctuary and identify/mark areas where the risk of disease introduction is highest. This might be your main entrance, a designated quarantine area, a pond, the part of your property that borders a herd of grazing cows, and/or a wooded area that is home to various wildlife. When identifying biosecurity measures, keep these areas in mind and find ways to mitigate risk.

    Step 3: Think About Your Goals

    The most effective biosecurity plan is one that includes measures that protect against different routes of disease exposure and that protect against a range of diseases (rather than focusing on just one infectious disease). However, based on your answers to the questions above, you may have specific goals in addition to generally preventing infectious disease introduction and spread. Perhaps there is a specific disease that is common in your area or in the species you care for and you want to be sure to include measures that specifically mitigate your residents’ risk of being exposed to that disease. Or maybe you are caring for a group of residents who are lifelong carriers of a certain disease that could be spread to other residents and so you want to include specific measures to reduce this risk. As a group, discuss any specific goals you have, keeping in mind that you still want to include measures that offer general protection. A good biosecurity plan can help prevent exposure to a range of infectious diseases, including ones you’ve never heard of or know little about!

    Step 4: Identify Specific Biosecurity Measures

    Now that your team has a sense of your sanctuary’s risks and any specific goals, start brainstorming specific biosecurity measures that you can implement that will help mitigate risks and will help you achieve your goals. 

    To recap information from part 1, a biosecurity plan should consist of the following:

    1. Measures that prevent or limit the introduction of pathogens to sanctuary grounds (bioexclusion or external biosecurity)
    2. Measures that monitor for infectious disease
    3. Measures that prevent the spread of disease at the sanctuary (biocontainment or internal biosecurity

    Be sure to consider how each suggested measure will affect the well-being of your residents and whether or not the protection the measure provides is worth any negative impact on your residents’ well-being and autonomy. These can be complicated calculations that are affected by the degree of risk your residents face, which is why it’s helpful to include both your veterinarian and caregivers in this discussion. Together, you can determine what is most appropriate during times of average risk as well as identifying additional measures you should implement during times of increased risk. Also keep in mind that biosecurity measures should be practical and actionable.

    Remember that no single measure is going to mitigate all risk of disease exposure. Be sure to include measures that address each of the main routes of disease exposure (direct contact, aerosol, oral, fomite, and vector-borne) as well as measures that address your sanctuary’s specific risk factors, as identified above. If you care for multiple species, be sure to consider if there are additional species-specific measures that should be included to reflect the unique degree of risk they may face.

    Below we’ll take a look at the types of biosecurity measures sanctuaries should incorporate into their biosecurity plan, though the specifics of certain measures may vary sanctuary by sanctuary or case by case. It’s important to note that while the following information is broken into different categories, some measures fit into multiple categories.

    This Is Not An All-Inclusive List!
    In addition to the measures described below, be sure to consider everyone and everything that comes and goes from sanctuary grounds and that travel between different areas of the property (especially between different resident groups). Because these can be a source of disease introduction and spread, you’ll want to consider if they are covered by the biosecurity measures below and, if not, you’ll want to consider if additional measures are necessary.

    Human Movement

    Human movement can contribute to infectious disease introduction and spread, so it’s important to identify ways to mitigate this risk. Because folks may be coming into sanctuary spaces for a wide range of reasons, you may find that there are certain biosecurity measures that apply to everyone as well as additional measures that apply to certain folks based on factors such as whether or not they will have contact with residents or enter resident spaces, what areas of the sanctuary they (and their vehicles) need access to, the likelihood they have been in contact with other farmed animals, and their understanding of infectious disease and respect for biosecurity. 

    Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate this point:

    • In terms of introducing an infectious disease to sanctuary spaces, an electrician who needs to come out to address an issue in your office area probably doesn’t present the same degree of risk as a hay supplier who operates a dairy, makes deliveries to numerous farms, and must drive through the sanctuary to get to your hay storage area.
    • In terms of spreading infectious disease from one group of residents to another, a visitor who is only allowed to interact with groups of healthy residents (as determined by sanctuary personnel) likely doesn’t pose the same degree of risk as a volunteer whose daily tasks requires them to work with infectious and healthy individuals during the course of one shift.
    • In terms of both the risk of a person introducing or contributing to the spread of an infectious disease, their understanding of infectious disease and respect for biosecurity also factors in. For example, if you work with a farrier or shearer, they almost certainly have other clients, which requires them to travel to different properties where farmed animals reside. When considering care-related service providers such as this, it’s best to have a chat about the measures they have in place to prevent infectious disease introduction. A service provider who has no measures in place (and/or who acts as if there is no risk associated with them working with other farmed animals) is likely going to carry more risk than someone who takes reasonable precautions and seems to have a firm grasp on the importance of biosecurity. 

    Be Sure To Consider Zoonoses
    The focus of this resource is on measures that protect your sanctuary’s residents from infectious disease, but you also need to take steps to protect the humans who come onto your property from zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted between human and non-human animals). Some of the measures in this resource will help protect humans from zoonoses, but we encourage you to check out this resource to learn more about ways to protect folks from zoonotic disease.

    General Biosecurity Measures To Mitigate Infectious Disease Introduction And Spread Via Human Movement
    1. Clearly communicate biosecurity measures to folks coming onto the property, ahead of time, if possible
    2. Use clear signage to communicate important biosecurity measures (entrance, directions to parking areas, identifying restricted areas, etc.)
    3. Limit vehicle traffic onto sanctuary grounds
    4. Provide parking as close to the entrance as possible 
    5. If possible, have one clear access point onto sanctuary grounds (with other access points blocked by a gate, for example)
    6. Keep major roadways, access roads, and walking paths clean
    7. Encourage frequent handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer and provide spaces and supplies necessary to do so. Ask folks to wash or sanitize hands upon arrival/before making contact with residents.
    8. Do not allow humans to eat or bring food into resident spaces
    Biosecurity Measures Related To Sanctuary Personnel (Staff, Volunteers, Interns)
    1. Encourage personnel to stay home when they are sick
    2. Consider asking personnel to wear footwear that stays on site (rather than wearing work boots home and to other locations). If you opt for this, be sure to provide personnel with space to store and change footwear.
    3. Consider ways to divide daily responsibilities so as to reduce the likelihood of personnel contributing to disease spread between different groups of residents. This may include measures such as:
      • Limiting the number of resident groups each person works with on a given day, perhaps focusing on avoiding contact with species that share many of the same communicable diseases 
      • Arranging daily responsibilities so that staff work with the most vulnerable residents (such as babies) before working with other residents, and so that they work with individuals who are sick last
    4. Instruct personnel to wear appropriate personal protective gear as needed and provide necessary gear. For example, personnel should be expected to wear gloves when coming into contact with a resident’s blood or an open wound.
    5. If possible, keep vehicles that travel around sanctuary grounds (tractor, spreader, skidsteer, etc.) restricted to sanctuary grounds and away from the areas where vehicles coming from off site drive. 
    6. Ensure staff receive initial and ongoing training in biosecurity protocols
    7. Have a designated area for personnel to store food that is separate from resident areas. Any appliances or dishes personnel have access to for their snacks/meals should be for human food only (i.e. do not use the same refrigerator to store lunches and resident medications or diagnostic samples)
    8. For folks who come into close contact with animals off sanctuary grounds (for example folks who spend time at other sanctuaries, share their home with companion farmed animals, and/or work in wildlife rehabilitation), have a plan in place for them to notify you if they come into close contact with a sick individual so that your team can make an informed decision about how to prevent disease introduction to your residents. Depending on the situation, this may entail asking the person to stay off sanctuary grounds for an appropriate amount of time to mitigate the risk of fomite and/or vector-borne exposure (for example, if a volunteer came into contact with a pig suspected of having porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome, you’d want to wait a minimum of 72 hours following exposure before the volunteer comes onto sanctuary grounds again in order to prevent disease introduction to your residents)

    A Note About Food For Humans
    Many farmed animal sanctuaries have policies in place that prohibit folks from bringing non-vegan food items onto sanctuary grounds. In addition to this policy being aligned with a farmed animal sanctuary’s philosophy about animals, it is also an effective biosecurity measure. Because certain animal products can harbor harmful pathogens, some animal agriculture operations enforce biosecurity measures that prohibit bringing certain animal products on site.

    Biosecurity Measures Related To Service Providers

    As described above, this is a broad category that includes folks with different degrees of associated risk. While other service providers could, in theory, introduce an infectious disease to your sanctuary’s residents, it’s helpful to focus on those service providers who carry more risk due to whether or not they enter resident spaces, whether or not they have had contact with other farmed animals, etc.

    1. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to limit vehicle traffic onto sanctuary grounds, but this may be difficult in certain situations. Consider the following for each service provider:
      • Are there ways to eliminate the need for them to drive onto sanctuary property? For example, instead of having bagged food and grain delivered by your local feed mill or farm supply store, can you pick it up?
      • Can you set things up so that providers who must come out to the sanctuary do not have to drive far past the main access point? For example, if you do opt for deliveries of bagged food, can you have personnel unload the delivery at the main access point and then bring it to your food storage area rather than having the delivery truck drive their vehicle to the food storage area? Or, can you position the food storage area so that it can be accessed easily without having to drive on the roads where sanctuary vehicles travel regularly? Can you do the same with hay/straw storage?
      • Can service providers who need access to resident spaces or need to work with residents keep their vehicles in the main parking area or, if this is not necessary due to the supplies needed, can they at least park outside of resident living areas?
    2. Always have service providers check in upon arrival so you can communicate any important biosecurity measures they may not be aware of (knowing who is on site at any given moment is also a good safety measure in case of emergency). 
    3. Particularly for service providers who must enter resident spaces, can you accompany them to where they need to go and get them set up/walk them through any necessary biosecurity measures? If service providers are working with your residents (i.e farriers, shearers, veterinarians, etc.) we recommend having a staff person assist with or at least be present for the visit to ensure everyone’s safety and to record important notes from the visit.
    4. For service providers who must enter resident spaces and have also visited other locations that house farmed animals, can you provide shoe covers and hand sanitizer or take other measures to mitigate the risk of infectious disease introduction?
    5. For service providers who work with residents, have a discussion about ways to mitigate the risk of infectious disease introduction (such as by disinfecting their equipment prior to using with your residents or by scheduling visits so that your sanctuary is their first stop of the day).

    What About Foot Baths?
    You may have noticed that we keep mentioning shoe covers but have not mentioned foot baths. Foot/boot baths commonly come up in discussions of biosecurity, but some experts have raised concern that due to the likelihood of incorrect use, foot baths may not be as effective as we need them to be. First, you must use an appropriate solution and concentration. Second, this solution must be changed regularly. Third, in order to work effectively, shoes must be thoroughly cleaned, with all organic material removed, before using the foot bath (which can be very difficult in outdoor settings). And lastly, it is imperative that shoes be soaked for an appropriate amount of time (following package or veterinarian instructions). If you opt to incorporate foot baths in your biosecurity plan, be sure to do so thoughtfully to ensure efficacy. Quickly dipping shoes that are covered in feces and/or mud into a foot bath is not an effective biosecurity measure.

    Biosecurity Measures For Visitors
    1. Use clear signage to relay instructions to visitors (where do they go upon arrival, what can they do, what areas are restricted?)
    2. If visitors are allowed in with residents, be mindful about which areas they are allowed to enter, avoiding giving them access to quarantine and isolation areas and preventing contact with babies or residents who are showing signs of illness
    3. Only allow visitors to walk sanctuary grounds when accompanied by sanctuary personnel with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis
    4. Be prepared to restrict visitor access during times of high risk

    Animal Care

    Consider the ways in which your care practices can mitigate the risk of infectious disease introduction and spread.

    Intake Protocols

    Intake of new residents is fairly common among farmed animal sanctuaries and is often one of the “highest risk” activities in terms of possible infectious disease introduction. In order to keep other residents safe, it’s important to implement biosecurity measures that mitigate the risks associated with intake. This includes the following: 

    1. Implement and adhere to robust quarantine protocols for all new residents, regardless of if the new resident appears healthy (we recommend new residents be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days). You can read more about quarantine for new residents here, but this includes:
      • Preventing contact between established residents and new residents (as well as their secretions, excretions, and fluids)
      • Keeping as much physical distance and separation as possible between new residents and other residents to mitigate disease spread via aerosols or vectors
      • Preventing spread via fomites by having designated quarantine supplies and/or disinfecting anything that comes and goes from the space 
      • Mitigating the risk of disease spread via human movement by limiting access to the quarantine area to essential personnel only and requiring anyone entering the space wear personal protective gear
      • Using clear and prominent signage to identify quarantine areas and that communicate the requirements for entry
      • Keeping manure and old bedding that is removed from quarantine areas during the cleaning process away from other residents or their living spaces
      • Working with your veterinarian to determine when it is safe to discontinue quarantine (based on things like clinical signs, time since intake, diagnostic testing, etc.)
      • Disinfecting quarantine areas/ensuring they are not harboring dangerous pathogens before using the space for others
      • Understanding that some circumstances will necessitate more robust quarantine measures than what is standard practice at your sanctuary and having mechanisms in place to identify when more robust quarantine, such as quarantine off site, is required
    2. Conduct intake evaluations on all new arrivals. If a new arrival is showing signs of illness, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
    3. Establish incoming testing protocols for each species in your care, in consultation with your veterinarian. At a minimum, we recommend new residents be evaluated for internal parasites via fecal testing, but there may be additional testing that is recommended for specific species (such as testing all new ruminants and camelids for Johne’s disease). Keep in mind that if new arrivals are coming from out of state, there may be specific testing and veterinary documentation that is required. 
    4. Stay informed about regional disease outbreaks as well as outbreaks globally, recognizing that there may be times when more robust intake biosecurity measures are necessary or when intake needs to be temporarily suspended to ensure your residents’ safety.
    Care For Infectious And Clinically Ill Residents

    Residents who are clinically ill or infectious (including lifelong carriers) can contribute to disease spread to other residents. Therefore, it is important to establish protocols for caring for these individuals while also mitigating the risk of disease spread.

    1. Have individuals showing signs of illness evaluated by a veterinarian and discuss appropriate diagnostics to have done
    2. Isolate sick individuals if contagion is a concern and/or quarantine residents who may have been exposed to an infectious disease in consultation with your veterinarian and your Philosophy of Care. Read more about isolation here.
    3. Use antimicrobials and anthelmintics responsibly and in consultation with your veterinarian
    4. If dealing with diseases that cause an individual to be infectious for life, create separate groups for positive and negative individuals (and implement other biosecurity measures to mitigate the risk of spread to other residents) or find alternative living arrangements
    5. Implement additional measures based on the specific route of disease transmission.
    Resident Living Spaces

    Consider ways in which your residents’ living spaces can mitigate the risk of disease introduction and spread. Also consider ways in which living spaces can promote health and immune function.

    1. Ensure resident housing is able to be maintained at a comfortable temperature for the species it houses. Avoid exposing residents to extreme temperatures and extreme temperature fluctuations.
    2. Ensure resident housing provides ample ventilation
    3. Keep heating/cooling and humidity control equipment (fans, heat sources, humidifiers, dehumidifiers) clean. If using portable devices, store them so that contamination from wildlife is unlikely and thoroughly clean them before use.
    4. Avoid overcrowding of resident living spaces
    5. Have robust fencing that prevents residents from leaving their living spaces 
    6. Prevent physical contact with farmed animals living on neighboring land and provide as much physical distance and separation between them as possible (such two well-spaced fence lines between the two or opting not to use land boarding neighboring property for resident living spaces)
    7. Discourage wildlife from inhabiting resident spaces and prevent (as much as possible/necessary) wildlife from entering resident spaces*
    8. Watch for signs of mice or rats in resident spaces and use compassionate practices to prevent/discourage them
    9. Implement fly mitigation strategies
    10. Discourage wild birds from congregating at ponds residents have access to and/or prevent residents from accessing those ponds
    11. Regularly clean living spaces and make sure personnel are trained in proper cleaning procedures
    12. Purchase bedding from a trusted supplier with quality control programs
    13. Store bedding so as to prevent mold growth and contamination from wildlife
    14. Consider having designated cleaning tools for each location/resident group
    15. Breakup or collect manure in pastures
    16. Consider if you can create physical distance and separation between different species that share many of the same infectious diseases
    17. Prevent contact with toxic plants
    18. Depending on the parasites and other infectious diseases of concern in your area, as well as your topography, consider restricting your residents’ access to areas that are consistently swampy/wet year-round or seasonally.
    19. Prevent drainage and run-off from high risk areas from flowing into resident spaces (for example, run off from a pond, from a neighboring herd/flocks of animals, or from areas where vehicles are cleaned)

    *Wildlife In Resident Spaces
    Depending on the species for whom you care, fully excluding all wildlife from both their indoor and outdoor living spaces may not be possible. Be sure to consider the degree of risk posed by different wildlife species, as well as feasibility. For example, wild birds pose a greater risk to farmed bird species than they do to ruminants. Therefore, it will be more important to exclude wild birds from indoor and outdoor avian living spaces than from your goat residents’ living space.

    Resident Food And Water

    Consider ways in which food and water, as well as related supplies, could be a source of infectious disease exposure and find ways to mitigate this risk.

    1. Purchase dried forages and other resident food from trusted suppliers with quality control programs
    2. Store dried forages so as to prevent mold growth and contamination from wildlife
    3. Store bagged or bulk resident food (pellets, grains, etc.) in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space and prevent wildlife from accessing stored food.
    4. Before feeding out, inspect food sources for signs of infestations, mold, spoilage, etc.
    5. Use dedicated equipment and supplies for food and drinking water storage, handling, and prep (i.e. do not use equipment and supplies that are also used for habitat cleaning)
    6. Provide food using bowls, troughs, feeders, etc. instead of feeding hay, pellets, grains, etc. directly on the ground
    7. Regularly dispose of old/soiled food (including dried forages) and replace with new
    8. For grazing species, use careful pasture management and rotation to reduce exposure to parasites while grazing
    9. Test drinking water at least annually. Avoid using surface water as a drinking water source.
    10. If residents have access to water sources that cannot be regularly cleaned (such as a pond), in addition to providing clean drinking water daily, closely monitor the water source for contamination or cyanobacteria, and restrict your residents’ access as needed
    11. Clean drinking water vessels (autowaters, bowls, founts, tanks, etc.) and replenish water at least once per day
    12. Identify ways to prevent residents and wild animals from defecating or urinating in food and water sources. 
    13. Help keep drinking water sources clean by providing drinking water out of vessels that prevent residents from climbing into them 
    14. Move feeding and water stations as needed to keep residents away from wet, muddy areas. 
    15. Consider having designated food/water dishes for each location/resident group
    General Care Practices

    In addition to measures related to the categories above, consider other care practices that can mitigate the risk of infectious disease exposure as well as other measures that can promote health and immune function.

    1. Keep resident stress to a minimum. This includes offering ample space and resources and creating healthy social groups (making changes when necessary). For activities that are necessary but tend to cause your residents stress (for example, transport to the vet or routine health checks), find ways to make these activities neutral or even positive by taking time to provide compassionate learning opportunities for residents.
    2. Implement a vaccination program in consultation with your veterinarian 
    3. Do not reuse needles
    4. Disinfect any reusable supplies that come into contact with a resident’s blood before using them again (hoof trimmers, clippers, forceps etc.)
    5. Properly label all toxic substances and store away from residents
    6. If caring for babies, make sure you meet their specific housing, diet, and care needs in order to start them off on the right foot. Give very young residents time to build up their immunity before introducing them to adult residents (besides their family or adopted parent)
    7. If residents are brought off site for things other than veterinary care, identify ways to mitigate their exposure to infectious disease and consider if they should be quarantined upon arrival to mitigate the risk of them spreading disease to others. (There are many important things to consider when taking residents off site, you can read a bit about this here.)

    Don’t Be A Source Of Disease Spread To Others!
    Speaking of bringing residents off site for things other than veterinary care, be sure to think about activities and practices that could result in your sanctuary being responsible for the introduction and spread of disease beyond sanctuary grounds. Think about who and what leaves your sanctuary and ways to reduce the risk that they will be a source of disease exposure to others. This includes encouraging everyone to wash and/or disinfect their hands upon leaving, carefully packaging up (and if shipping, labeling) diagnostic samples, and if you adopt out residents, ensuring they are healthy prior to adoption.

    Monitor Residents For Infectious Disease

    Your biosecurity plan should also include measures that monitor your residents for infectious diseases. The earlier the detection, the sooner you can implement measures to mitigate the risk of further disease spread.

    1. In order to catch signs of illness early, make sure staff are trained to observe residents daily, can recognize signs of concern, and know who to contact if they have concerns about a resident
    2. Perform routine health checks and discuss concerning findings with your veterinarian
    3. Work with your veterinarian to establish parasite screening protocols for your residents
    4. Work with your veterinarian to determine if there are specific diagnostic tests that should be conducted regularly to screen residents for infectious diseases
    5. Identify ways to stay informed about the risk of infectious disease outbreaks in your region and beyond. Your veterinarian will be a good source of some of this information, and they can also point you in the direction of other sources of information.
    Protocols Following The Death Of A Resident

    Unfortunately, providing lifelong care means being prepared to say goodbye at the end of a resident’s natural life or when euthanasia is deemed necessary due to a poor quality of life. Therefore, it is important to establish protocols to respond to the death of a resident.

    1. When appropriate and feasible, have your veterinarian or area diagnostic laboratory perform necropsy exams. This is particularly important in the case of an unexplained death or illness. Some infectious diseases can only be confirmed via post-mortem testing.
    2. Have a plan for the safe handling and respectful disposition of the bodies of deceased residents. If residents are buried on site, this must be done thoughtfully (and in accordance with local regulations).

    Additional Measures To Prevent Disease Introduction And Spread Via Fomites

    While many of the measures listed above address infectious disease exposure via fomites, consider other things that come and go from your sanctuary and that move between different resident spaces and implement measures to mitigate the risk of them being sources of disease introduction and spread. 

    1. Keep all animal care supplies clean, disinfecting when needed.
    2. Launder fabric items such as coats/blankets, leg wraps, booties, crop bras, slings, etc. regularly and always wash before using on a different resident.
    3. Launder protective gear and other fabric items used in quarantine or isolation spaces separately from other laundry and disinfect the washer regularly.
    4. If you use rope halters, consider having designated halters for each resident group that remain in or near their living space (rather than using one halter in many different resident groups). Using a different color halter for each group can help prevent mix-ups.
    5. Disinfect animal transport vehicles and crates.
    6. Avoid sharing or borrowing equipment that is likely to have come into contact with other animals or their secretions, excretions, or fluids. 
    7. If buying equipment second-hand, consider where it came from and the risk of disease spread. Clean and disinfect as much as possible.
    8. Have a plan in place for the safe disposal of used needles, being sure to follow regional guidelines.

    Additional Measures To Prevent Disease Introduction And Spread Via Vectors And Other Wildlife

    While some of the measures we’ve already discussed address wildlife and vector-borne exposure, be sure to consider additional measures to prevent this route of disease spread. 

    1. Avoid practices that attract wildlife as much as possible, or at least keep them contained to areas that are away from resident spaces.
    2. Clean up spilled food as soon as possible.
    3. Keep compost areas away from resident areas.
    4. Have a manure management plan.
    5. Prevent standing water as much as possible.
    6. If you come across a deceased wild animal, remove their body from resident spaces.
    7. Contact professionals if you notice illness or large die-offs in wild populations.

    Personalize It!
    Revisit your sanctuary’s unique risk factors, as identified in Step 2. Take time to think about whether there are additional biosecurity measures that are necessary in order to responsibly protect your residents.


    Recordkeeping is an essential aspect of biosecurity. In the event of a serious infectious disease outbreak, you may need to demonstrate your biosecurity measures and specific care practices. There may also be times when you need to know who entered your sanctuary and on what date. Important records associated with biosecurity include:

    • Animal records (identifying who residents are/where they came from and demonstrating that their health is closely monitored)
    • Incoming/outgoing animal logs
    • Regularly updated animal census
    • Tracking of resident movement (moving from one resident area to another and/or leaving the property)
    • Visitor logs
    • Vehicle logs
    • Cleaning protocols

    Step 5: Plan For Times Of Increased Risk

    While some of the above measures are imperative at all times, there may be certain measures listed above that aren’t necessary when your sanctuary’s risk is low, but are essential during periods of high risk. We recommend having a conversation with your veterinarian about the enhanced biosecurity measures you should be prepared to implement during times of high risk. The specific measures that are necessary will depend on the situation, but may include restricting sanctuary access to essential personnel only and suspending intake. 

    High risk times that warrant enhanced biosecurity measures include the following:

    • An active outbreak in or near your region.
    • Based on outbreaks abroad, experts are sounding the alarm that your region is at risk.
    • One of your residents is suspected or confirmed to have a serious, communal infectious disease.

    To get an idea of what an enhanced biosecurity plan might entail, check out our Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Biosecurity Plan And Checklist.

    Step 6: Communicate, Implement, And Train

    Clear communication and proper training are key to ensuring that biosecurity measures are followed correctly and consistently. When first implementing a biosecurity plan (or when making changes to your current plan, discussed more below), be sure to share the details with all personnel and, if necessary, service providers. When communicating this information to sanctuary personnel, it can be useful to do so during a scheduled team meeting. This will allow time for everyone to hear about the biosecurity plan and, for measures that require training, gives you time to either conduct the training or alert the team to upcoming training. It’s also a great time to offer an overview (or refresher) on infectious disease and the main exposure routes which can help folks understand why biosecurity matters in the first place. Consider sharing your sanctuary’s specific risk factors (from Step 2) and the goals you identified (from Step 3). Be sure to allow time for questions so folks leave with all the information they need. Also communicate where they can go with future questions, comments, or concerns regarding your biosecurity plan (likely to your biosecurity coordinator).  

    It’s a good idea to keep a log of who has received the necessary information and training so that no one falls through the cracks. If someone is unable to attend the meeting or follow-up training, be sure to schedule a way for them to get the information they need. You’ll also need to have a plan in place for onboarding new personnel.

    Be clear about when each measure will be implemented. Some may be implemented immediately, others may need to wait for certain arrangements to be made (such as securing certain supplies), and some may only be implemented in response to a specific circumstance (such as implementing new quarantine measures for incoming residents). Also be clear about any associated procedures and protocols and everyone’s responsibilities in keeping things running smoothly. While many things may fall to the biosecurity coordinators, there may be other things that need to be a team effort. For example, who launders fabric coveralls? What procedures and protocols are necessary to ensure that protective gear is always available in the areas where it is needed? When a new resident arrives, who sets up the necessary protective gear and quarantine supplies and posts associated signage?

    Speaking of signage, be sure to use clear and prominently placed signage to reinforce the information shared in your meeting. It is not enough to say “blue halters need to stay in goat house A and red halters need to stay in goat house B.” You also want to post a sign in an area where it is likely to be seen (in the case of the color-coded halters, perhaps posting the sign directly above or next to the place where halters are stored).

    For signs that will be posted permanently (for example a sign directing folks to the parking area), it’s a good idea to invest in a sign that is made from materials that will last and to post it in a secure manner. Simply pinning up a piece of paper or propping up a sign rather than mounting it could lead to the necessary information not actually being visible. When ordering or making a sign, be sure that both the sign itself and the information on it are appropriately sized for the circumstances. For example, a sign indicating where the parking area is should be large enough to be read from inside a vehicle and should be located where it is most likely to be seen. This sign may need to be larger than a sign posted on a door reminding folks of quarantine procedures, for example. For signs that are posted on a temporary basis, consider making commonly used signs ahead of time and storing them in a filing cabinet or tote for easy access. These signs may not need to be made of the same materials as a more permanent sign, but you do want to ensure it is durable and that the information it displays is not likely to fade or run. For indoor use, a laminated piece of paper may work just fine, but for outdoor use, you may need something more durable.

    Step 7: Monitor And Reassess 

    Once you’ve implemented your biosecurity plan, be sure to monitor and reassess. If folks are confused about certain measures or you are finding that certain measures are not being followed correctly, try to figure out why. Perhaps folks are struggling to adhere to a certain measure due to time constraints, in which case a look at how daily responsibilities are divided may be necessary. Or maybe there’s confusion about protocols and procedures leaving folks without the tools they need to adhere to a certain biosecurity measure. It’s helpful to approach this from a place of curiosity rather than blame so that you can identify the issue(s) and address them.

    Step 8: Review And Update

    At a minimum, we recommend reviewing your biosecurity plan annually, reconvening the original team if possible/appropriate. If this isn’t possible, be sure to include other folks following the guidelines from Step 1 regarding including folks with different perspectives/knowledge about day-to-day operations. During your review, revisit the risk factors and goals you identified previously and consider if and how they have changed. Has the overall degree of risk your sanctuary faces changed? Do certain species face a different degree of risk than what is reflected in your biosecurity plan?

    As with before, it’s helpful if your veterinarian is able to participate in this discussion, but if this is not possible, we recommend asking them to review your plan on their own annually. They may have specific recommendations for changes to your plan based on things such as increased concern about a certain infectious disease or new information about how a certain infectious disease spreads. Any changes to your plan should be communicated to sanctuary personnel, but even if the plan does not change, it’s a good idea to review your biosecurity measures as a team once per year. 

    In addition to an annual review, be sure to review your biosecurity plan when your sanctuary’s risk factors change or when you make a change to your sanctuary’s operations. You’ll want to take time to determine if additional measures are necessary based on these changes to ensure your biosecurity plan continues to offer appropriate protection.


    Biosecurity | Health Farms, Healthy Agriculture 

    Biosecurity Plan Example | Health Farms, Healthy Agriculture

    Movement Risks And Biosecurity | Center For Food Security And Public Health (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Biosecurity (Chapter 13) | Veterinary Preventative Medicine (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Biosecurity in Livestock and Poultry Production: Basic Course | Center For Food Security And Public Health (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Self-Assessment Disease Prevention Checklist | Center For Food Security And Public Health (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Non-Compassionate Source?
    If a source includes the (Non-Compassionate Source) tag, it means that we do not endorse that particular source’s views about animals, even if some of their insights are valuable from a care perspective. See a more detailed explanation here.

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