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On the Forefront

November 28, 2012
By: Jim Dickrell, Dairy Today Editor
p30 On the Forefront 2
Electronic premise and animal ID software allows speed-of-commerce disease tracing, says Marianne Ash, Indiana’s director of biosecurity and preparedness planning.  

Indiana’s ID system leads the nation

While numerous states have geared up animal and premise identification, perhaps none has as integrated a system with as many species as Indiana. Nor, it can be argued, is any other state as prepared to take on an animal health emergency or disease outbreak.

The reason: Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) veterinarians are using USAHerds system software every day. "We use it for everything we do," says Marianne Ash, Indiana’s director of biosecurity and preparedness planning.

"And we probably use it more than any other state, because we have so many species represented—beef, dairy, hogs, poultry, sheep, goats—even fish," she says.

BOAH currently has more than 50,000 livestock sites in its premise ID designation, including more than 1,500 dairy operations.

Premise identification is required for farms that buy, sell or exhibit livestock. Licensed livestock dealers, dairy and slaughter plants, renderers and quarantine facilities also must be registered.

Premise identification uses a geography-referenced, spot-on-the-ground database. "It locates a spot on a map, not an animal and not a person," Ash says. The reason: "If we don’t know your herd is there, we can’t notify you in the event of an outbreak, get you vaccine or protect your animals."

USAHerds is a web-based, fully integrated package that allows state officials to track animal movements in real time. "We have to move information as fast as commerce," Ash says.

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The software allows BOAH officials to rapidly map a disease outbreak and identify its proximity to other farms in the neighborhood. For example, when there was an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, state officials were able to notify neighboring herds. They, in turn, could institute measures immediately to prevent the spread of the disease to their farms.

"In an outbreak, we also need to prove absence of disease so that a herd is not unnecessarily quarantined," Ash says.

"We can map positive and negative test results, and show disease patterns," she says. In the event of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, for example, data can be extrapolated to predict where new infections might occur due to aerosol spread. This defines estimated areas of higher risk where disease monitoring and prevention can be concentrated.

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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - December 2012

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