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General Animal Bio-security & Quarantine

 

| Introduction | Bio-security | Quarantine | Levels Of Isolation | Important Factors | Quarantine Facilities | Related Topics | References |
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Introduction:

Infectious diseases are diseases caused by life disease causing organisms (pathogens) such as helminths (worms), viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. These pathogens can be contagious in origin (i.e. from another animal), result from nosocomial infections (i.e. from animal hospitals or clinics), or can be due to the uncontrolled multiplication of the animals endogenous organisms. All animals are exposed to pathogens and are prone to obtain diseases even in their natural environment. Infected or carrier animals that move from one area to another are responsible for spreading diseases. Carrier animals may or may not be diseased (or show clinical signs) at the time or even long after infection. Stress are the main factor for pathogens to take over and cause disease.

It is often difficult to tell whether an animal is harbouring a potentially dangerous pathogen. Affected animals may appear and act completely healthy for long periods (weeks or months) before showing clinical signs. This is complicated even more with the fact that non- and semi-domesticated animals can disguise clinical disease particularly well until they cannot compromise anymore. During this apparent healthy period, also called the incubation period, affected animals may continue to appear healthy while at the same time is also spreading the infection to all other close, or in-contact animals.

Some of the main reasons for stress in pets and captive kept animals include:

  • Abrupt changes in environment

  • Environmenation with faeces

  • Handling

  • Transportation

  • Overcrowding

  • Food and water deprivation

  • Introduction or removal of fellow animals

  • Challenge with disease

Importation/exportation and the introduction of new animals to private collections share a lot of these stressors. Diseases poses the threat of being transmitted between animals (same or different species and between animals and humans (zoonosis).

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Bio-security:

Bio-security is any practice that prevents the spread of infectious agents from infected animals to susceptible or in-contact humans or animals, or that prevents the introduction of diseases via infected animals into a country or private collection in which the agent is not yet present.

Bio-security is divided into internal and external measures. Internal measures prevent the spread of diseases already present in a country or collection where external measures prevent the entering of diseases into a country. In the pet trade good hygiene and husbandry are both internal measures while quarantine and the proper specimen selection are some of the external measures which aim to prevent the introduction of diseases into disease free populations. Quarantine will also prevent the spread of an disease within a country or collection.

Unstressed pet or captive animals kept in a suitable, clean environment has a much lower chance of becoming ill when compared to a stressed animal.

Avoid buying diseased or stressed animals. Always choose the biggest, healthiest looking animal possible. If possible choose vaccinated or dewormed animals. Avoid animals that have a combination of the following:

  • Looks lethargic, i.e. excessive sleeping and do not show interested in its active environment

  • Have eye or nasal discharges

  • Have a poor body condition

  • Show signs of diarrhoea or dehydration

Only buy from reputable pet shops and breeders. Avoid buying animals from crowded or unhygienic situations. Try to buy animals that are captive bred in your own country and that is not illegally imported or caught from the wild.

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Quarantine:

Quarantine ('kwrun'teen') can be defined as the restrictions placed on the entering or leaving of enclosures, premises, regions or countries where a case of infectious disease exists or is suspected. It is usually done by enforcing isolation for certain periods of time.

A quarantine station is an institution which houses animals that have to serve out an mandatory period of quarantine because they have came from an infected area or have been exposed to, or affected by one or more exotic (i.e. from other countries) diseases.

Before animals are allowed to enter any level of quarantine they should be examined by a specialized exotic veterinarian. These animals should be handled with latex gloves. Animals must be thoroughly inspected for external parasites and a faecal float will identify internal parasites. Problems must be promptly treated.

While animals are quarantined they should be observed for any signs of disease. If any signs are observed it should be treated accordingly and the quarantine period should be extended to the original period extending from when the animal is healthy.

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Levels Of Isolation:

Isolation should be carried out at two different levels:

  • National level

  • Local level

National level quarantine regulations are (or should be) in place to prevent exotic diseases from entering a country, i.e. when importing a new or already established species to a country. National and international quarantine stations are supposed to be active at all importing airports or harbors. Illegally imported animals or importations that bypassed national quarantine facilities and  regulations pose big threats to the rest of a country's established indigenous and exotic populations. National quarantine stations are usually manned by state veterinarians.

Local level quarantine prevents diseases (local, wild or exotic) from entering private collections. This is usually done by local quarantine facilities (i.e. a separate cage or container in a separate room). It is the responsibility of every keeper to quarantine all newly obtained animals to prevent diseases from spreading to and within private collections. Local isolation prevent exotic and local diseases from entering collections and should thus be enforced even if national level isolation was enforced. It is recommended to quarantine each and every animal, including local bred, apparent healthy and wild caught animals.

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Important Factors:

The idea of effective quarantine is to keep animals long enough in isolation for all potential exposed diseases to develop and show clinical signs or symptoms. Infected animals can thus be identified and treated or euthanased. The incubation period of a specific pathogen is the time from infection to when the pathogen causes disease or clinical signs. This period should be used as effective quarantine period. Different diseases have different incubation periods, but by isolating animals according to the longest potential disease incubation period, all potential diseases can be excluded. After quarantine the chance of still harboring a disease is minimal and animals can generally be declared free of diseases.

Herptiles should be quarantined for at least two months, but up to three months is preferable

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Quarantine Facilities:

The following should apply to quarantine and quarantine facilities:

  • The facilities should be separate from existing collections preferably with no air communication i.e. a separate room with different air conditioning

  • Quarantine enclosures should be set according to normal/minimal husbandry standards for the species

  • Quarantined animals should be housed separately, i.e. one animal per enclosure

  • Handling of quarantined animals should be kept to a minimum to prevent contamination and stress

  • Latex gloves should be wore when handling quarantined animals

  • After handling quarantined animals hands and arms and all other in-contact parts should be washed and disinfected immediately

  • Quarantine facilities should only be visited/inspected after the normal collection

  • Quarantine areas should be isolated to prevent free movement of unauthorized people to prevent contamination and stress

  • Quarantine enclosures should be set up for easy regular cleaning, i.e. smooth waterproof surface with an easy disposable substrate and washable cage furniture

  • Droppings and contaminated substrates should be removed at least twice a day

  • Enclosures should be disinfected between animals

  • Food and water containers should be washed and disinfected on a daily basis

  • Fresh food and water should be supplied on a daily basis

  • No prophylactic medication should be given to quarantined animals to prevent the masking of diseases or clinical signs

  • All animals should be easily identifiable

  • Animals showing any signs of disease should be isolated immediately and examined by an experienced reptile veterinarian and treated accordingly

  • Transport containers / materials should be disinfected or disposed of

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"If you think I should add more information to this section or think that something is incorrect, contact me and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas or methods you might use that is different than mine."

Last updated 7 August 2007 by Renier Delport

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"Always remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught from the wild."

 

Related Topics:

Reptile Related Zoonoses In General
Most Important Points To Remember When Feeding Insectivorous Lizards
Metabolic Bone Disease In Lizards (MBD)
Lizard Quarantine Practical Aspects Of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

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References:

Mader, Douglas R. 1996. Reptile Medicine & Surgery. W.B. Saunders Company.

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| Introduction | Bio-security | Quarantine | Levels Of Isolation | Important Factors | Quarantine Facilities | Related Topics | References |
| Email This Page |

 

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