Preventive Measures

Trade of animals, and the transport itself, is one of the most important ways of transmitting diseases. Denmark has introduced regulations on national movement of poultry, cattle, swine, sheep and goats to promote trade patterns and trade practices with a minimum of disease risk.

During the Danish outbreak of Newcastle disease in 2002 and the spreading of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe in 2001 Denmark experienced a spread in the diseases. In the following, various biosecurity measures aimed at preventing disease in peacetime and when disease is threatening are described.

Animal assembly centres are premises where animals are gathered prior to transport to slaughter or intra-community trade to other EU Member States. Live animal markets are assembly centres for trading of animals intended for further production in holdings. All animals are inspected by an official veterinarian before entering the assembly centre. The inspection concerns animal health as well as animal welfare conditions. Animals for slaughter are fully separated from animals for further production at the assembly centres. The assembly centre is cleaned and disinfected at the end of the day after assembly of animals.

Good hygiene practices are generally important in order to prevent the spread of disease in modern farm animal holdings. Good farm biosecurity means that good hygiene practices are in place on the animal holding.

In order to prevent that disease is spread by visitors at animal holdings, the following hygiene measures must be kept:

  • Use boots or other footwear that is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before leaving the premises, or disposable shoe covering that is left on the premises.

  • Clothing available at the holding, or protective clothing washed at 60 °C as minimum before next visit, must be worn.

  • Hands are thoroughly washed after the visit.

  • Equipment used in contact with animals, manure or other similar matter must be cleaned and disinfected before use on another animal holding.

If you have been in contact with an animal holding abroad, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recommends keeping out of Danish animal holdings, until 48 hours after the visit. This is a protective measure against introduction of an infection into Danish animal holdings.

Holdings with more than 500 animal units (e.g. approximately 330 heads of dairy cows and young stock, or approximately 1400 sows and piglets) on the same property must meet the following requirements:

  • Conclude a health advisory agreement with a veterinary practitioner.

  • Develop a biosecurity plan that outlines how the herd is protected against infectious diseases.

  • Purchased breeding stock must be quarantined.

  • Housing for piglets and slaughter pigs to be divided into sections.

  • Veal calves must be inserted in stable sections where the all-in-all-out principle is applied or alternatively in quarantine sections.

  • Large sow herds and dairy herds may have up to three suppliers of animals per rolling 12 months.

The biosecurity plan that is a component of the health advisory agreement must be approved by the veterinary practitioner. When approved, the herd owner must submit the plan for scrutiny to the Regional Veterinary and Food Administration, which, if necessary, may order changes in the plan.

The rules do not apply to herds of poultry, fish and fur. In practice, the rules will apply to herds of cattle and swine as Danish sheep and goat herds at present are smaller than 500 animal units.

The quarantine rules are measures of disease control aiming at slowing down the turnover of animals between holdings in order to prevent the possible spread of disease. After introduction of new animals to a holding, no cloven-hoofed animal must leave a holding until seven days after the introduction. Cloven-hoofed animals that are introduced to a holding have to stay in the holding for at least 30 days prior to the next movement. There are general exemptions for these rules, such as movements of animals to slaughter.

Any person who sells or transports poultry must keep a record of buyers or recipients of the poultry. These records must be kept for two years and may be checked by the veterinary authorities. This is an important tool of traceability during outbreaks of notifiable poultry diseases.

According to Danish order No 1312 of 30.11.2010 on cleaning and disinfection of vehicles to cloven-hoofed animals the transporter must ensure that the vehicle after trade of cloven-hoofed animals from EU or third countries to Denmark is cleaned and disinfected immediately after every transport on a cleaning and disinfection facility in Denmark approved by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The transporter must ensure that a register is kept containing place, date and used disinfectant. The information shall be retained for a minimum period of three years and must be documented to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration on request. The Danish order implements parts of article 12 in Council Directive of 26 June 1964 on animal health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine (64/432/EEC).

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has approved the following cleaning and disinfection facilities  for cleaning and disinfection of vehicles after trade of cloven-hoofed animals from EU or third countries to Denmark: 

Danish Safety Wash ApS
Industrivej 44
6330 Padborg

Megawash A/S
Thorsvej 3
6330 Padborg

Outdoor pig farms must be surrounded by a double fence to prevent the public from feeding the pigs and to keep the pigs in the field. The distance between the inner and outer fence must be five meters; or else at least 3 live wires must be applied directly to the outer fence. Alternative designs of fence may be permitted provided sufficient security. The fence must have warning signs, saying that it is illegal to feed the pigs.

Wild boar has been the source of infection in outbreaks of African Swine Fever in European swine herds at several occasions. Denmark does not have a free-range population of wild boar. Stray animals, possibly from wild populations in neighbouring countries, have occasionally been observed. The current policy states that stray wild boars must be killed.

Early warning of animal disease outbreaks enables national authorities to inform farmers and general population at risk about prevention and control measures for animal and public health threats, as well as to prepare and develop mitigation strategies to minimize the risk of introduction and spread of disease in Denmark.

To assist with a proper and swift implementation of preventive measures contemplated in the Danish contingency plans, the DVFA uses a rapid risk assessment process to estimate the risk of introduction of a disease into the Danish territory. The rapid risk assessment is carried out when there is an outbreak of a listed disease from the notifiable animal diseases listed in List 1, under the "Danish Animal Health Act", with high consequences for Denmark, occurring in the European Union (EU) and/or in countries neighboring the EU. The rapid risk assessment will be published and risk mitigating actions put in place within 3 working days from the time when DVFA received official information of the outbreak.

The qualitative rapid risk assessment for the introduction of disease, in a specific point in time, is based on the available and relevant documentation. It follows the guidelines of the OIE on Import Risk Analysis, in particular the risk assessment steps. The risk analysis process has been well documented as a step‐by‐step process, where hazard identification is the first step and considered separately from the risk assessment. The risk assessment process itself is subdivided into four steps: (1) entry assessment, (2) exposure assessment, (3) consequence assessment and (4) risk estimation. The overall risk estimation is made by integrating the entry, exposure and consequence assessments. Four risk level alerts have been defined:

At the risk level "very low", the "peace time" preventive measures mentioned above are in place. This risk level means that the probability of introduction is so rare that there is no particular risk of introduction of disease into Denmark. Therefore, there is no need for mitigation actions beyond the preventive measures already in place.

The risk level would be raised to "low", if the probability of introduction of a hazard is rare but does occur. This risk level would trigger measures such as increase on the distribution of information about the disease, and how to prevent it by following recommendations for biosecurity, and to remind stakeholders to keep the above-mentioned preventive measures and being vigilant.

The risk level is raised to "medium", if the probability of introduction of a hazard is likely to occur. The immediate preventive steps at this level include tracing imports of animals and animal products from the outbreak area and targeted information to stakeholders about the outbreak area and a recommendation of increased alert. Additionally, this will trigger an increase on the surveillance by the competent authority.

The risk level will be raised to "high", if the probability of an event (outbreak) occurring in the Danish territory is almost certain/expected. Consequently, a full veterinary risk assessment will be conducted with the purpose of targeting the actions and regulation to prevent the introduction of infection by animals, animal products, vehicles or people. National biosecurity preventive measures may include:

  • Temporary ban on transport of susceptible species in risk areas or nationally.

  • No mixing of animals from several farms on vehicles.

  • Cleaning and disinfection checks on all vehicles for animal transport.

  • Restricted access to farms with susceptible species.

  • Requirements for laboratory tests before initiation of antibiotic treatment.

  • Hygiene rules for access to all Danish farms.