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Dairy Today Healthline

Establish a Biosecurity Plan against Salmonella

May 19, 2014

Four steps to improve control of the tough-to-recognize, disease-causing bacteria on your dairy.

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By Gary Neubauer, DVM, senior manager, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis

It’s hard to keep Salmonella bacteria off dairies. If it enters a herd, it can be tough to recognize. With warmer summer temperatures just around the corner, now is the time to review your control program to safeguard your herd from potential Salmonella access points.

Salmonella is an intestinal bacterium that can cause significant disease in dairy cattle. It typically is spread from the waste of one animal, then ingested by another. A cow infected with subclinical Salmonella can be a carrier of the disease and appear healthy while shedding the bacteria to others. The disease can have devastating effects on a dairy, and there are limited prevention and treatment products to manage the disease.

Here are four simple steps to help improve Salmonella control on your dairy.

Step 1: Stop the spread

Whenever cattle from another source enter the dairy, pathogens can tag along. Commingling and allowing nose-to-nose contact with heifers from other dairies can allow disease transmission. Bacteria could be living in the cattle or on the trailer or the truck transporting the cattle.

Proactive plan - Establish testing and quarantine protocols before allowing cattle to commingle with your herd. Clean and disinfect trailers transporting cattle after every shipment. Work with the company transporting cattle to discuss their biosecurity measures.

Step 2: Keep rodents, wildlife, pets and other livestock away

Rodents and wildlife can drop by unexpectedly and carry diseases such as Salmonella. Many operations have pets, such as cats or dogs, while others are home to other livestock.

Proactive plan - Although it might be impossible to keep wildlife and pets off the property, take steps to keep animals away from cattle. Wildlife and rodents often are looking for food. Keep feed storage clean and protected to deter animals from those areas.

Step 3: Develop a biosecurity plan for employees, consultants and visitors

People also can bring Salmonella and other diseases to a dairy. Every day, employees, veterinarians, nutritionists and visitors travel on and off operations, as well as to and from cattle pens. They could be bringing Salmonella with them.

Proactive plan - Visitors should not be allowed to enter or go near the feeding areas or pens unless they adhere to biosecurity measures, using footbaths and wearing protective clothing. Veterinarians and artificial insemination technicians also should wear clean coveralls and boots before entering cattle pens.

Step 4: Develop a prevention plan

Evaluate risks and stop the disease from entering dairies. A good first step is to take a risk assessment, such as the short questionnaire found at

Proactive plan - After you take the assessment, your veterinarian can help develop a Salmonella prevention and biosecurity plan. Vaccination is a key component of any Salmonella control program. Vaccines can help prevent a clinical outbreak of Salmonella Newport, as well as help limit economic damage due to subclinical disease.1 Take proper steps to help reduce your risk of a devastating Salmonella outbreak.

Visit to learn more about limiting your dairy’s risk of Salmonella and controlling the disease. Contact Dr. Neubauer at

1 Hermesch DR, Thomson DU, Loneragan GH, Renter DR, White BJ. Effects of a commercially available vaccine against Salmonella enterica serotype Newport on milk production, somatic cell count and shedding of Salmonella organisms in female dairy cattle with no clinical signs of salmonellosis. Am J Vet Res 2008;69(9):1229-1234.

All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. ©2014 Zoetis Inc. All rights reserved.

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