On the Forefront

November 28, 2012 10:03 AM
On the Forefront

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.

Eleven other states also use the software, which should facilitate interstate tracing of livestock should a disease outbreak occur.

The software has other uses as well. Because the system is Internet-based, it facilitates the issuing of electronic certificates of veterinary inspection (CVIs)—for example, when a farmer sells heifers for transport across state lines. Some have even used the system to site new livestock facilities. That can be critical not only for disease risk, but feed
acquisition and manure disposal.

The Indiana Professional Dairy Producers support the effort. "We recognize the need for it for biosecurity and homeland security reasons," says the group’s president, LuAnn Troxel.

"We had a bovine tuberculosis incident a while back, and BOAH officials were immediately able to identify herds that were at risk and zero in on the area that they needed to be concerned with," she says.

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