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Part 3: Decontamination procedures(Contd.)

Chapter 4
Battlefield strategy - disinfection procedures


The aim of personal decontamination is to remove safely any contamination of the body or clothing. The process minimizes the risk of cross-contamination so that people can confidently leave a contaminated environment with little or no dissemination of the disease organism. These procedures must be rigorously applied.

Personnel may become heavily contaminated while working on infected premises or dangerous-contact premises and when active disease is found by diagnostic and surveillance teams.

The heaviest contamination will occur:

Personal decontamination site

A site designated for personal decontamination (PDS) should be arranged near the exit from an IP or DCP. This site may be moved further into the IP as necessary during decontamination. The site supervisor will be responsible for selecting the area.

Critical inspection and questioning of the owner/manager of the property will determine the extent of property contamination with regard to animal and effluent contact. The PDS should be placed on the limit of this contamination or in an area that can be easily and safely disinfected. It should allow for future expansion and may be in use over a considerable period of time. Once determined, the site area should be sprayed with a disinfectant applicable to the disease. It must be possible to leave the IP directly from this PDS without becoming recontaminated. Ideally, it should be on an impervious surface and include a building with a water supply and drainage. The building should not have been previously used by animals or have been grossly contaminated. If there is no hardstanding available, a 10 × 10 m plastic ground cover can be used. Hessian sacking and star pickets round the area can be used to maintain privacy for changing. Each person should have a change of clean clothes kept in plastic bags or in a caravan at the outer point of the area; there should be a store of clean overalls in case of mishaps.



Technical staff visiting farms need to carry out personal disinfection to minimize the risk of spreading disease agents to other farms.

Other more effective equipment for personal decontamination are emergency service shower vans and, in cold climates, two-room vinyl marquees can be used for shelter, washing and privacy.

Consideration must be given to any sloping ground. Runoff water from the contaminated area must under no circumstances flow to the clean area. If no adequate drainage is available, a pit must be dug as soon as heavy machinery arrives, to ensure that no effluent escapes beyond the decontamination site.

Personal decontamination: procedure

The following procedures will apply to all personnel before leaving an IP or dangerous-contact property or any quarantined area which is grossly contaminated with the disease organism.

On arrival at the decontamination site, a disinfectant solution safe for skin contact should be ready in buckets. This will be used throughout the operation. It must be noted tht antiviral disinfectants that are both effective against all virus families and approved for use on human skin are not available. Warm, soapy water is recommended for washing face, hair, skin, etc.

Alternatively, the washing solution pH can be raised by adding sodium carbonate or lowered by adding citric acid to enhance antiviral action. The latter is recommended for decontamination from foot-and-mouth disease virus (Table 4). If other skin decontaminants are used, care must be taken to ensure they are effective against the virus, as many brand products containing quaternary ammonium compounds or phenolics are not active against category B viruses.

Heavy-gauge plastic garbage bags are used for disposable items that can be buried or burnt on the site or for items to be removed from the site for further disinfection and cleaning.

Industrial hard hats must be scrubbed and set aside. If a neck cloth is worn, it must be removed and soaked in disinfectant - for example 1 percent Virkon® for 10 minutes - then wrung out and placed in a plastic bag. Hair should be washed/sponged down with shampoo. Disposable gloves must be decontaminated before discarding; reusable gloves must be decontaminated before reuse. Hands must be washed in disinfectant and scrubbed.

Plastic overalls. Using a sponge or low-pressure pump, wash the overalls thoroughly and completely to remove gross material, paying particular attention to the back, under the collar, zips and fastenings and the insides of pockets. Jackets must be removed and placed in disinfectant. Trousers must be treated similarly, paying attention to crutch, pockets and the inside of the bottom of the trouser legs. The trousers must then be removed, inspected and placed in disinfectant. Wellington boots should be scrubbed down, with particular attention paid to the soles.

Personnel returning to the site on a subsequent day can remove hats, gloves and plastic overalls from the disinfectant and can remain on site. If personnel are not returning, the equipment should be placed in plastic bags and the outsides of the bags disinfected. Personnel can then walk across the area, treat the soles of footwear again, change into street shoes and leave. If underclothing has been soiled, especially above boot level, it must be removed and placed in a plastic bag, the skin washed and a clean pair of overalls used for leaving the site.

Cotton overalls. Overalls can simply be removed, soaked in disinfectant, squeezed out and placed in a plastic bag for removal. Underclothes and rubber boots are similarly treated. Personnel should then wash down their bodies, walk across the area, wash the feet in a footbath, change into clean overalls and street shoes and leave directly, without re-exposure to contaminated areas.

Plastic bags containing used overalls and other articles should be sealed, given a second wash in disinfectant and placed at the outer limit of the area for collection by courier. The overalls must then be cleaned.

On returning home or to lodgings, personnel should have a shower.

Personnel leaving an IP or DCP for other duties must not have contact with susceptible stock for a period of time determined by the LDCC.

Personal decontamination in difficult circumstances

Visitors on properties where disease is suspected. It is possible that when a disease is suspected on a property, there will be visitors or private veterinarians present. These people should be requested to remain on the property until the government veterinary officer arrives. If this is not practical, they should be asked to undergo personal disinfection, particularly if they have had contact with livestock or contaminated areas.

Use of the following substances as personal disinfectants can be recommended where no other approved disinfectant is available:

Any area of the body and parts of vehicles contaminated with animal matter should be washed down with one of the above solutions. People must not contact any animal and must be questioned in detail regarding their movements from the time of contact with suspect disease to the time the officer requests the information. People should be requested to dry clean/wash clothes on arriving home and to have a hot bath or shower. There must be no visits made to properties with livestock until the situation has been resolved. If the suspect property proves positive, people will be directed to present the vehicle for appropriate decontamination.

Accident cases from an IP or DCP. The level of initial decontamination of a person injured while on an IP will vary with the extent of the injuries. Obviously, human life must not be prejudiced and every care must be taken to minimize discomfort or pain.

If, in an emergency situation, a risk of contamination is deemed to exist because of incomplete personnel/vehicle procedures, the LDCC must be informed and an officer dispatched to the ambulance destination. Hospital authorities should be informed of the risk and appropriate personal disinfection of the patient carried out as circumstances permit. Personal protective clothing worn by the casualty must be secured in plastic bags; any area thought to be contaminated should be washed with approved disinfectant. The ambulance wheels, underside and interior should be washed with approved disinfectant. Personal clothing and boots of the ambulance attendants should be removed for drycleaning and disinfection if they had to enter the IP or DCP.


The IP site supervisor must ensure effective property decontamination, including decontamination of people, equipment and vehicles.

Efficient and effective property decontamination will only result from:

The following regime is recommended:

  1. Inspect the IP or DCP and prepare a map of the property.
  2. Start a log book to record all events.
  3. Indicate areas not requiring special decontamination action.
  4. Indicate areas or sites requiring specific decontamination action; consult with the officers-in-charge of slaughter, disposal and epidemiology.
  5. List procedures in chronological order to be undertaken in each area.
  6. Estimate the duration of the decontamination programme.
  7. Seek approval from the LDCC operations manager for the proposed programme.
  8. Implement the agreed decontamination plan, maintaining liaison with the IP operations manager at the LDCC and submitting a daily progress report.

The composition of a typical property decontamination programme is as follows:

Continuous close liaison with the owner/manager is essential to achieve an effective programme.

Property assessment

The initial property assessment must be thoroughly detailed. This assessment will be used throughout the decontamination process. Mark relevant details on the property map. Identify overhead high tension electricity power lines, underground cables, telephone lines, electric fuse boxes, power points and meter. Where necessary identify underground water pipes. Locate and mark all drains and their outflows. Any drains which run free must be blocked with hessian or plastic bags and only allowed to run when the effluent has been thoroughly mixed with disinfectant. If effluent is running freely into watercourses, arrange to dig a pit or make a dam across the drainage line. Where possible, check water authority drainage maps to determine subsequent flow of effluent. If drainage is to a septic tank, examine the tank, estimate and note the spare capacity. If the tank is full, block the drains.

Examine the decontamination site. If a temporary one has been set up, it may require moving because of the potential increase in effluent. The site must be marked out and disinfected. Detail an unloading area outside the decontamination area where materials and equipment can be unloaded without having to decontaminate a vehicle. Detail an area where the workforce will eat or have rest periods. There should be provision for heating water and preferably cover or shade. The rest area must not be at the decontamination site.

Estimate the degree of contamination in the dwelling house and the adjacent area. Detail disposal and/or cleaning to be done in the house to remove all sources of contamination. Special attention should be paid to verandahs and offices. If possible, without prejudicing disease control, detail a decontamination procedure to allow the household to move safely on to and off the premises. This will depend on the siting of the house and the possibility of disinfecting to a point outside the designated contaminated area.

Arrange for infected premises notices to be posted at the entrance(s) to the property.

On intensive piggeries and poultry farms, turn off all extractor fans. This is particularly important for disease agents that are easily dispersed as aerosols, such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and Newcastle disease virus.

Assess the amount of animal effluent to be removed for disposal. Assess the amount of food that will be needed for the animals. It may be necessary for welfare reasons to arrange delivery of more food before disposal of stock is completed. The delivery vehicle must be decontaminated before leaving.

Detail structures and articles that cannot be effectively decontaminated, such as wooden buildings, floors and cattle yards, roof insulation, doors and linings. Assess the degree of contamination of non-animal areas such as grain and food stores, machinery sheds and workshops. Assess the likely contamination of animal feed: open sacks of food, stores of loose grain and hay and straw stacks, especially if animal effluent runs under them. Detail electrical and electronic equipment requiring decontamination on advice from electrical contractors. On extensive properties, designate an area at the airstrip as a decontamination site for the pilot and any essential visitors. This can be a scaled-down version of the decontamination site.

Preliminary disinfection

The aim of preliminary disinfection is to reduce rapidly the amount and distribution of the infective agent on the IP or DCP up to the time of completion of slaughter and disposal, when thorough disinfection can be undertaken.

Preliminary disinfection should be commenced as soon as possible after the presence of disease is confirmed on the property. Any area known to be contaminated should be sprayed with disinfectant solution to reduce the chances of inadvertent spread of the infective agent. When the disease agent has the capability of airborne dissemination, the importance of pre-slaughter spraying cannot be overemphasized. The process should continue area by area until the first clean-up operation starts. Particular attention should be paid to the property's vehicle entrance/exit roads, overflows of animal effluent on to roads, tracks and the area around the dwelling-house.

Slaughter site. This area should be disinfected at every long break, probably five times a day. Disinfection should include buildings and pens housing animals and, as the animals are successively removed for slaughter, the area they occupied.

Disposal site. This area must be thoroughly decontaminated but only when disposal has been completed, because wetting some soils makes traction difficult and would cause problems with vehicles on the site.

Allow all heavy machinery to return to a central point in the IP. Heavy machinery not required on the property after completion of carcass disposal must be carefully disinfected. Spray along the track to the disposal site and follow with a heavy spray where carcasses have been slashed open. Where carcasses are burnt, the spraying will have to wait until the fire has died down. When all the animals have been destroyed, any wood used for temporary slaughter pens must be buried or burned. All metal gates and panels at the slaughter site must be scrubbed down with disinfectant and stacked for complete disinfection. The slaughter site can then be thoroughly decontaminated.

Rodent control. While the preliminary disinfection is being carried out, the IP site supervisor will arrange with the LDCC for the laying of baits for rodent control if this is considered necessary to limit the spread of disease. It must be carried out before there is movement and/or disinfection of food stores.

Clean-up process

The aim of the clean-up process is to remove all manure, dirt, debris and contaminated articles that cannot be disinfected. The surfaces of all buildings, pens, fittings and equipment must be exposed ready for the first disinfection. This is the most important phase in the decontamination procedure, because the presence of organic material reduces the effectiveness of disinfectant.

Encrusted dung, dirt and grease shield the underlying permanent surfaces from the effect of the disinfectant. Remove large accumulations of faeces, litter and bedding. This material will have been lightly disinfected at the preliminary disinfection, so avoid the use of water or disinfectants at this stage. This minimizes the volume and weight of material to be handled. The easiest method of disposal of solid and semi-solid faecal material is burial. When animal houses have been cleared of dung, start cleaning the building, starting with the roof and working downwards.

All old insulation materials, such as polystyrene, fibreglass and press boards, are removed for burial or burning unless they have sound impervious surfaces which can be effectively decontaminated. All unsound, rotten and underrun wooden fittings, flooring and other structures which cannot be effectively disinfected should be removed for burning or burial. Remember that all material destroyed must first be valued. All fixtures and fittings should be dismantled and stacked for cleaning and disinfection. Delicate electronic equipment must be protected for later specialist treatment.

Earthen floors in buildings may need to be broken up and soaked in disinfectant. Accretions and encrustations of material on permanent surfaces must be removed. This is most easily achieved by low pressure spraying with water or detergent and water, using steam cleaners or scraping with hand tools. Particular attention should be paid to corners and wall/floor junctions. The surfaces are then hosed down with plain water at high pressure. All permanent surfaces must be free of visible contamination. All feedstuff considered contaminated must be removed and buried after valuation. Feeding and water troughs must be emptied and cleaned out.

First full disinfection

The aim of the first disinfection is to inactivate the disease agent with physical and chemical agents. The necessity for disinfection depends on the disease agent involved. This process must be carried out in a systematic fashion to ensure that areas which have been disinfected are not recontaminated by people or machinery. A recommended order of cleaning is to work from the roof to walls to floors. This should be adopted in each building. When the disinfection of each building or area is completed, it should be cordoned off with marking tape. Once an area is dry, it will not be obvious where the disinfected area starts and finishes.

The disposal site must be periodically inspected. Burial pits will emit large quantities of noxious gas and fluid. Once this emission has stopped, the ground around the site must be broken up and liberally soaked with disinfectant. Treat cremation sites in the same way. Care must be taken to disinfect personnel, machinery and vehicles close to the site and not to allow recontamination of previously disinfected areas near buildings.

First inspection

Depending on the disease agent involved, this may be the only inspection. The aim of the first inspection is to ensure that all tasks detailed on the property assessment have been performed. The property should be inspected by the IP site supervisor from the LDCC.

Important aspects to be checked are that:

Preparation for second disinfection

There can be a potential residue of contamination, particularly under old, cracked concrete and under rundown buildings.

Areas of underrun or loose concrete should be examined carefully and a cost assessment made as to whether they should be repaired or the area destroyed. Earthen pathways and walls of animal houses constructed of porous brickwork or breeze blocks should be similarly inspected and assessed.

If repairs are to be done, a written agreement with the owner must be obtained before any work is commenced.

Second full disinfection

The processes to be carried out must be finished or in such an advanced stage of progress that the second disinfection process will not be hindered.

The second disinfection is a repeat of the first and can be started approximately 14 days after the first disinfection, depending on the disease agent involved and provided no repair work needs to be done.

Final inspection

This is carried out in the same way as the first inspection. The premises must be meticulously checked, preferably by an experienced officer not previously involved in an earlier inspection. If there are any doubts, work must be repeated. If there are no questionable areas, the workforce should be removed from the premises. All equipment and personnel must be finally disinfected at the decontamination site before removal. If the final inspection is satisfactory, reconstruction work can be carried out and the premises made habitable for stock. The premises must be left empty for a prescribed time before restocking with sentinel animals, depending on the specific disease strategy.



Sentinel animals
Trial repopulation should be carried out using sentinel animals.

Restocking sentinel animals

Depending on the local disease situation, sentinel animals may be allowed back into the premises at a time determined in accordance with the relevant disease strategy. They must come from a disease-free area of the country. Sentinel animals must be inspected by a government veterinary officer before loading. They should be housed in the areas that had the highest degree of contamination.

The vehicle and driver should be disinfected when leaving the receiving property. This is because the driver may have subsequent contact with other animals and if there has been any breakdown in decontamination, the consequences would be serious.

The animals will require regular clinical inspection. The inspecting officer must disinfect off the premises at each visit. If there is no sign of disease at the end of the sentinel period, the premises may be declared free of disease and quarantine lifted, depending upon any local disease control measures in force at the time.


Contaminated cars, livestock, animal feed or product haulage vehicles with their drivers carry a disease dissemination risk. The first priority is to ensure that no vehicles leave the IP without thorough decontamination. A second priority in any disease outbreak is to trace urgently vehicles that have been in contact with the disease agents and to take them off the road and decontaminate them thoroughly. Inquiries should be made about the origin and occupation of drivers and passengers and any contact they may have had with livestock.

Most vehicles should remain off IPs or DCPs. If the numbers of vehicles warrant it, a local area with a hard standing, drainage and a good water supply should be designated as a local vehicle disinfection station. A carwash facility is ideal for decontamination of surveillance vehicles, if one is conveniently located. A carwash can do the job quickly and more effectively than a team of people and has the advantage of being able to wash under vehicles. Although this cleaning may be unnecessary from an epidemiological point of view, it is effective public relations to have clean vehicles visiting suspect private properties.



Thorough disinfection of vehicles is essential during an emergency disease outbreak to prevent the disease from spreading to other premises.

From a disinfection point of view, there are four categories of vehicles, needing:


Any rubber floor mats on the driver's side should be removed for scrubbing with disinfectant. The dashboard, steering wheel, handbrake, gearstick and driver's seat should be wiped liberally with appropriate disinfectant. If the boot (trunk) is considered contaminated, the contents must be removed and the interior of the boot wiped with disinfectant. The contents of the boot must be treated similarly before being replaced. The wheels, wheel arches and underside of the car should be sprayed with disinfectant, not plain water. The wheel arches, wheels and bodywork should be sprayed with a non-corrosive disinfectant.

Plain water should not be used with high-pressure hoses, because the process will release contaminated aerosols of the pathogen. A mixture of disinfectant and water should always be used with high-pressure hoses. Cleaning heavily contaminated vehicles should only be done on the infected rural IP, because most cleaning processes, including high-pressure hoses, spread the infectious agent.

Cleaning by brushing with disinfectant/soap and water to dislodge encrusted dirt and organic matter is preferable to washing with high-pressure water streams. Caustic soda should not be used on paintwork.

Livestock vehicles

All solid debris should be removed from trailers and bodywork. Vehicles should then be soaked in disinfectant and scrubbed down to bare metal or wood with a detergent.

When the crate structure of a trailer has been decontaminated, it should be lifted from the chassis so that the undersides and mounting points can be decontaminated. Vehicles must be closely inspected to check whether there are double layers of metal or wood. If there are, the top layer must be removed to reach areas where contaminated material could be trapped. Any metal flooring which appears solid must be weight tested to ensure that welding is not cracked and that there is no rubbish under the flooring. Some trailers may carry extra equipment under the chassis; this must be treated. Outer wheels and spare wheels must be removed to ensure adequate decontamination of wheel hubs and to inspect the spare wheel hangers, which can be hollow and contain contaminated material.

The driver's cab and, where fitted, the sleeping compartment must be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated. Enquiries should be made of the driver as to what clothing and boots were worn when in contact with suspect stock. These articles must be identified, decontaminated and arrangements made for dry cleaning where applicable (see Personal decontamination, p. 91).

Animal faecal matter and bedding must be removed. Water, feedstuff and litter carried in the vehicles must be disinfected and burnt or buried. Fixtures and fittings must be dismantled to ensure that infected material has been removed. Surfaces must be cleaned down to metal and then disinfected. Wooden surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected where appropriate or valued before removal and destruction. Wheels, wheel arches, bodywork and vehicle undersides must be cleaned of detritus and disinfected. Drivers' cabins and sleeping compartments must be cleaned and disinfected.

Specialized stock vehicles usually carry their own water, food and litter supplies for the animals.

If a vehicle is known to have carried diseased or suspect stock, every effort should be made to find out where these materials were disposed of, particularly if they have been removed before departmental officers have identified the vehicle as being contaminated. Once identified, these materials must be disinfected and disposed of by burial or burning.

Other livestock vehicles include horse boxes, racing-pigeon carriers and vehicles carrying stud and show stock. For any vehicle known to have carried stock susceptible to the disease organism, the principles of vehicle and trailer decontamination are the same.

Milk tankers

These vehicles can become contaminated and disseminate the disease organism in the following ways:

Disinfectants used inside the tank must be those which do not leave a taint. Every dairy factory must have a disinfection point for tankers/drivers and an approved disinfectant against the disease organism. Vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day.

When picking up milk in a control area, tankers must be disinfected away from any potentially contaminated area, with particular attention given to wheels and hose inlets. The tanker exhaust vent must be fitted with hydrophobic membrane filter elements rated at 0.2 μm. The filter elements should be selected to permit air displacement flow rates during tanker emptying and filling without exceeding tanker vessel design pressures. Filter housings should be selected to permit cleaning and decontamination in place. Filter housing outlets should be protected against rain, hose water and insects.

Any spillage of milk must be disinfected. The drivers must disinfect themselves after leaving each property. If the disease does not affect cattle, the decision to allow a milk tanker into a mixed animal enterprise will depend on:

The vehicle and driver must be decontaminated before leaving.

If a tanker is carrying infected milk, the volume of milk must be determined and the milk mixed with the correct strength of disinfectant using a disc plunger. It must be left standing for one hour and then discharged to a drain or pit. The interior of the tanker must be decontaminated, along with all hoses and fittings. The principles of vehicle decontamination discussed previously must be observed.

Animal feed delivery vehicles

The visits of feed delivery vehicles to an IP or DCP will be identified from the epidemiology report. The path of the vehicle through the IP or DCP must be traced and the degree of contamination of vehicle and driver ascertained. If a vehicle is known to have visited another property, the path of the vehicle and driver and the area of possible contamination and contact with susceptible animals must be traced. When a suspect vehicle has been detained, decontamination will require removal of all encrusted material in wheel arches, wheels and the underside of the body and decontamination of the cabin, the driver and the driver's clothing and footwear.

An epidemiology report could identify bulk or bagged food material of animal origin, for example meat and bonemeal carried by a suspect vehicle, as being contaminated. Residual food material in the vehicle must be sprayed with disinfectant and removed for disposal. The insides of bulk trailers must be decontaminated with approved disinfectant.

If it is necessary, on animal welfare grounds or in a mixed animal enterprise, to allow a food vehicle into an IP or DCP, the route within the IP or DCP should be specified to the driver so as to minimize contamination of the vehicle. The vehicle and driver must be thoroughly decontaminated before being allowed to leave.

Wherever practical, animal feed should be delivered to the outer limits of a property and then transferred to the animals, so that the vehicle and driver do not become contaminated.

Vehicles at alternative disposal sites

Carcasses, offal and other contaminated material may in some cases have to be moved off the IP or DCP for disposal elsewhere. This would occur if, for example, the land area on the IP or DCP is limited or the topography is unsuitable or environmental factors preclude the use of normal disposal methods.

The vehicle freight compartment should be drip proof, preferably with a rear opening, capable of tipping and of being sealed at the top. If such conditions cannot be met, there must be a crane at the disposal site for lifting carcasses out. The disposal site should be as close as possible to the IP or DCP and the access route such as to avoid danger to susceptible stock. The disposal site should be designated as a quarantined area. The vehicle should be loaded using a suitable crane and cargo net or front-end loader. Once the vehicle is loaded, the carcasses or contaminated material must be sprayed with disinfectant. The driver, vehicle body, wheels and undersides must be decontaminated thoroughly before departure. The cover of the container must be strapped down tightly and decontaminated.



Alternative disposal site
A truck disposing of carcasses and fomites at an alternative disposal site.

The vehicle's speed must be limited to 40 kph. This slow speed is recommended to minimize aerosol release.

At the disposal site, there must be sufficient equipment, water supply, drainage and materials to decontaminate the expected number of vehicles. The facilities should be arranged at a specific decontamination site. Each driver and vehicle must be decontaminated before leaving the disposal site.

On completion of the exercise:

Aircraft decontamination

Aircraft construction prohibits the use of strong alkaline disinfectants such as caustic soda because of corrosion problems with metals such as aluminium. A mild alkaline disinfectant suitable for use on aircraft is sodium carbonate with 0.1 percent sodium silicate. Care is required with specialized equipment in the aircraft.

Helicopters should not be used in close proximity to an IP where aerosol disease spread is suspected; foot-and-mouth disease virus is an example.

Other machinery and vehicles used on an IP or DCP

Heavy machinery used on an IP or DCP will be grossly contaminated. Such machinery includes:

Such equipment must remain on the IP until needed elsewhere.

Once carcass disposal has been completed, machinery must be decontaminated. When a vehicle has been decontaminated, it should be moved to the decontamination site and the wheels or tracks disinfected again. All ancillary equipment must be treated similarly. Drivers must be decontaminated and must take care not to re-contaminate vehicle cabs. Low-loader vehicle transporters must not be allowed onto the IP; vehicles to be transported should be loaded outside the IP limits.

Chapter 5
Areas of special consideration



The amount of spare space in the slurry tank will govern the course of action. Identify where previous loads of slurry have been disposed of and the disease risk. If the slurry tank is almost full, an alternative pit can be dug, if necessary lined with plastic sheeting, into which slurry can be pumped for treatment. Slurry pits may be tanks beneath buildings or tanks in the farmyard. Any covers should be removed.

Estimate the capacity of the tank. Use chemicals to modify the pH to <2.00 or >11.00 and test using universal indicators. Mix the slurry and chemicals, using a slurry-tanker pump or agitator, and maintain the required pH for seven days. Neutralize the mixture and spread it on non-grazed agricultural land.

Safety. The following are essential safety considerations:

Semi-solid slurry tanks. Often, it is not feasible to liquefy this material. Most of the material will be non-infective. Add caustic soda 2 percent to the surface and allow to stand. Further additions of material to the tank must be treated beforehand. Quarantine the tank for up to three months, depending on the disease agent involved.


If the volume is not great, spray with an acid disinfectant. Manure tends to acid pH and this can be enhanced by acid treatments. Note that hypochlorite has limited effectiveness in the presence of high organic loads.

Remove treated manure and bury it in a pit.


There may be varying amounts of milk in bulk tanks on the IP or DCP. Depending on the disease, the milk must be made safe with a disinfectant that must be added to the milk and agitated. The milk is held for one hour and then released into a pit. It must not be released into the slurry tank.

Milk from properties in a restricted or control area may be removed from the property, provided the driver and vehicle are disinfected on leaving contaminated areas and the milk is subjected to appropriate treatment for the disease.

Milking machines

These machines need to be stripped to their components and then boiled or scrubbed with disinfectant. All instruments and gauges must be removed from the milk lines and disinfected. The apertures are blocked and all lines filled with non-taint disinfectant. This is left in contact for one hour. The joints of the pipeline are then loosened to allow seepage. The lines must then be run through with plain water followed by chlorine dairy detergent.


There will be varying amounts of animal feed on the IP or DCP. Some may be unaffected and some can safely be decontaminated; other feed may have to be destroyed. The destruction of large quantities of animal feed is expensive. Manual labour costs of treating the feed may outweigh the benefits of keeping it. Depending on the disease agent involved, keeping the feed or treating it may be judged as too great a risk to contemplate. Most exotic viruses inactivate spontaneously with time and certain temperature and humidity conditions, however, so in some cases feed can be quarantined for a period determined by epidemiology, then used again with confidence.

Hay and straw stacks

The length of time the disease has been present on the property will be determined from the epidemiology report. New stacks may have been contaminated throughout by the footwear of the workers who stacked them.

Designate a new stack area and start disinfecting it. As the new stack progresses, spray it with 2 percent caustic soda. Leave it for 30 days, then re-stack, re-treat and leave it for a further 30 days. The material can then be spread on arable land. Bury the material whenever possible.

Given the amount of time and labour required to treat and re-stack, it may be more economical to destroy the whole stack and compensate the owner. The contaminated bales can be used by the disposal team, if appropriate. If the disease is affecting only one species of animal in a mixed enterprise, the stack may be used for bedding/feed until the time of the second disinfection.

Grain stores

There may be many tonnes of grain on a mixed farm enterprise. The owner/manager must be carefully questioned as to the likely degree of contamination on the floor before the grain went down. Seek epidemiological advice as to the length of time the disease agent has been present. If no underlying contamination exists, remove approximately 7 cm of the surface of the grain and spray the new surface with disinfectant. The removed grain and scrapings must be buried or burnt. Grain may sprout after this treatment or go mouldy, which must be taken into account in the long term.

With bins of grain incorporated into home-mixed rations, the floor of the bin can be easily contaminated by farm workers clearing out the last grain before refilling the bin. If this is found to be the case, remove the grain and destroy it.


Silos can hold many tonnes of grain or prepared feed. If it is determined that there is or has been no disease contamination, remove approximately 25 kg of the contents through the chute. Wipe the inside and outside of the chute with disinfectant. Cover the chute mouth with a plastic bag and secure it. When first disinfection is complete (see First full disinfection, p.99), spray the outside of the silo with disinfectant. Tip 50 kg of a desiccating agent such as calcium chloride (quicklime) into the top of the silo to preserve the contents. If epidemiological investigations suggest that a food supply is contaminated, however, the silo must be completely emptied, the contents buried and the inside and outside of the silo disinfected.

It may be feasible to use formaldehyde gas in this situation, depending on the construction of the silo outlet and whether it can be completely sealed (see Aldehydes, p.86 and Appendix 3)

Feed in sacks

Depending on the nature of the disease agent, opened or hessian sacks of feed may be deemed contaminated and destroyed after valuation. Porous sacks of feed should always be destroyed when the disease agent is resistant or easily transmissible. Porous sacks would in this case be considered high risk, because the feed will in future be exposed directly to susceptible animals. Unopened paper bags can be wiped with disinfectant and restacked in an area which has been disinfected.

Silage clamps

Well made grass silage should have attained a pH of 3–4 but above-ground silage clamps are usually close to the animals. Silage clamps should be left until first disinfection. If the face and top are not covered with plastic sheet, remove 30 cm from these surfaces and bury the scrapings. Spray the exposed surfaces with disinfectant, ensuring that cross-contamination does not occur with the workers doing the spraying. If the top is covered, estimate possible contamination at the edges of the sheet. If there are gaps, scrape the exposed area, remove the cover from the edges and spray with disinfectant.

When feedstuffs are being dealt with, it should not be policy to destroy everything. Considerable quantities of feed can be safely decontaminated. The decisions must be taken in consultation with the LDCC.


On some properties there is equipment such as control panels, electronic gear, electric motors and computerized equipment, which could be damaged by some of the direct methods of decontamination previously discussed.

Electric motors and switchboards

If there is doubt, consult an electrical contractor. Consider whether decontamination of such equipment is a priority. It is unlikely that covered electrical equipment will be heavily contaminated. Such items are best considered at the end of the decontamination process, when specialists can be more readily consulted.

The most practical method of decontamination is to make an airtight tent of plastic sheeting around the equipment or, if the equipment can be easily dismantled, place all the separate items in a small enclosed space for fumigation. Some items will be airtight, in which case they can be safely decontaminated by wiping down with disinfectant.

The only other method is to use formaldehyde gas. Serious consideration must be given to the practical and safety aspects of this procedure, however (see Aldehydes, p. 86 and Appendix 3). Most exotic viruses will inactivate spontaneously with time. Exposure to sunlight may be a good option for complex equipment.

Radios, tape recorders and cameras on IPs/DCPs

Hand-held radios are useful on an IP. They enable efficient communication between officers in different areas of the IP. Tape recorders are used by some officers for recording epidemiology and property assessment data. They can also be used as a recording method for damage claims. All of the above can be used while protected inside plastic bags. Inexpensive waterproof cameras can be used to record lesions and symptoms.

When it is necessary to remove such equipment from an IP, the following procedure must be carried out at the decontamination site:

There is a small residual risk of contamination. These items of equipment should only be used on specific IPs or DCPs for the duration of the outbreak.

Captive-bolt pistols and firearms

These items will be grossly contaminated. After completion of slaughter, the weapons should be scrubbed with disinfectant on the IP. When the weapon requires servicing, it must be taken to a gunsmith in a disinfected plastic bag. The weapons should be stripped down and the gunsmith made aware that the mechanism should be disinfected. When decontaminated they may be serviced and re-oiled.

If the outbreak of disease includes a number of premises, the weapons can be delivered to the next IP after disinfection enclosed in disinfected plastic bags.

Appendix 1
Equipment checklist





The equipment above will vary according to circumstances.

Appendix 2
Suppliers and distributors of disinfectants

This manual recommends disinfectants that are effective against viruses, because most exotic disease agents of concern are viruses. It concentrates on well-known chemicals rather than trade names.

The eight major disinfectants listed have been chosen for the following reasons:

The table gives suggested suppliers for the major recommended disinfectants. The list is rudimentary and operators responsible in regional areas will be in a better position to identify the best local suppliers.

Disinfectant/chemical suppliers

(to be added as appropriate for each country)
Citric acid
Formalin (formaldehyde solution)
Glutaraldehyde (aidal)
Hydrochloric acid (spirits of salts)
Hypochlorites (calcium and sodium)
Sodium carbonate (washing soda)
Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)

Key for suppliers

(to be added as appropriate for each country)

Appendix 3
Practicalities of decontamination with formaldehyde gas

There are limited ways of decontaminating large spaces or electronic equipment on rural premises. Formaldehyde gas can be used with limited safety only in certain environments and in the hands of experienced operators.

Effective decontamination with gaseous formaldehyde requires a favourable combination of gas concentration, temperature, relative humidity and contact time. Most procedures suggest formaldehyde concentrations of 2–10 g/m3 and relative humidity values of 70–90 percent at temperatures of 20°C for periods of 15 to 24 hours.


Notwithstanding the problems associated with formaldehyde decontaminations, there are two possible ways of generating the gas in non-laboratory situations.

Formalin solution (20 ml/m3 space) can be mixed with potassium permanganate (16 g/m3) but it causes a violent and potentially dangerous reaction that produces heat and boiling. Large vessels of ten times the volume of the formalin must be used to contain the boiling reaction. A number of smaller vessels is preferable, each of which must be in a metal tray and well clear of combustible material. The enclosure must be prepared in advance so that the operator, wearing protective clothing and a full face respirator, can mix the ingredients and leave the enclosure quickly. A second, similarly equipped person must wait at the open door to ensure no mishaps occur. The last action in the enclosure must be to add the measured amount of formalin to the potassium permanganate in each reaction vessel, commencing with the vessel furthest from the exit door.

Alternatively, paraformaldehyde powder may be sublimed by heating to 200°C in an electrically heated device such as a frypan to produce an active concentration of 5 g/m3. This method is safer than the former but requires a remotely controlled method of supplying the heat.

Formaldehyde gas can be neutralized by reaction with ammonia gas produced by heating ammonium carbonate (7.5 g/m3 space) to 120°C after the decontamination is complete. Again, a satisfactory remotely controlled heating device is required. The space must be thoroughly ventilated upon completion of the decontamination and neutralization process.

Gaseous formaldehyde decontaminations should only be carried out by experienced personnel with appropriate safety equipment. It is recommended only if no suitable alternative options are available to achieve the desired result.


Agent: see Disease agent.

Amplification (of virus): Increase in the amount of virus; some infected animal species produce much larger amounts of virus than others and are known as amplifying hosts.

Animal by-products: Meat products and products of animal origin such as eggs and milk for human consumption or for use in animal feeding.

Animal products: Meat products and products of animal origin such as eggs and milk for human consumption or for use in animal feeding.

Control area: A bigger area than a restricted area, possibly as big as the state initially, where restrictions will reduce the chance of the disease spreading further afield; the control area may be reduced in size as confidence regarding the extent of the outbreak becomes clearer but it must remain consistent with OIE codes; in principle, animals and specified products may only be moved out of the control area into the free area by permit.

Dangerous-contact animal: An animal showing no clinical signs of disease but which, by reason of its probable exposure to disease, will be subjected to disease control measures.

Dangerous-contact premises: A premises that contains dangerous-contact animals.

Declared area: A temporarily defined tract of land subject to disease control restrictions under exotic disease legislation; types of declared areas include restricted area, control area, infected premises and dangerous-contact premises.

Disease agent: The organism that causes the disease.

Disposal: Sanitary removal of animal carcasses and material by burial, burning or some other process so as to prevent the spread of disease.

Enterprise: see Risk enterprise.

Exotic animal disease: A disease affecting animals that does not normally occur in the country; also called foreign animal disease.

Forward command post: A field operations centre, subsidiary to a local disease control centre.

Infected premises: A defined area, which may be all or part of a property, in which an exotic disease or agent exists or is believed to exist.

Job card: A written list of tasks to be carried out by an individual in the early stages of an emergency response.

Lipid envelope: see Viral envelope.

Local disease control centre: An emergency operations centre responsible for the command and control of field operations in a defined area.

Movement control: Restrictions placed on movement of animals, people and things to prevent spread of disease.

OIE code: International Animal Health Code 1992; see References.

Quarantine: Legal restrictions limiting movement imposed on a place, animal, vehicle or other things.

Restricted area: A declared area around an infected premises, small compared to a control area, that is subject to intense surveillance and movement controls; movement out of the area will in general be prohibited, while movement into the restricted area would only be by permit; multiple restricted areas may exist within one control area.

Risk enterprise: Livestock-related enterprise with a high potential for disease spread or economic loss.

Role description: Statement of functions of a position within the overall operation.

Sentinel animals: Animals of known health status, monitored for the purpose of detecting the presence of an exotic disease agent.

Setting (meat): The hardening of carcass tissue during the process of chilling, immediately following slaughter.

Silage clamp: Structure in which silage is stored.

Slurry tank: A tank that contains a suspension of solids in liquid, usually animal manure.

Stamping out: Eradication procedures, based on quarantine and slaughter, of all infected animals and animals exposed to infection.

Surveillance: A systematic examination and testing of animals or things to determine the presence or absence of an exotic disease.

Suspect: Describes materials or things considered to be contaminated by an exotic disease agent.

Suspect animal: An animal that may have been exposed to an exotic disease such that quarantine and intensive surveillance but not pre-emptive slaughter are warranted; or an animal not known to have been exposed to a disease agent but showing clinical signs requiring differential diagnosis.

Suspect premises: Premises containing suspect animals that will be subject to surveillance.

Swill: Food scraps of placental mammal origin that have not been obtained from approved slaughter facilities or treated by an approved process.

Swill feeding: Feeding of swill to pigs; unlicensed swill feeding is illegal in Australia.

Tracing: The process of locating animals, persons or things which may be implicated in the spread of disease.

Vector: A living organism, frequently an arthropod, that transmits an infectious agent from one host to another. A biological vector is one in which the infectious agent must develop or multiply before becoming infective to a recipient host. A mechanical vector is one that transmits an infectious agent from one host to another but is not essential to the life cycle of the agent.

Vector control area: An area in which the containment, control or reduction of vector populations is conducted.

Viral envelope: The lipoprotein outer covering of virions of some viruses; derived from cellular membranes but containing virus-specific proteins, usually glycoprotein peplomers.

Zoning: The process of defining disease free and infected area in accord with OIE guidelines, in order to facilitate trade.

Zoonosis: A disease that can be spread between animals and people.



Maps are an important resource in planning and defining zones.


CA: Control area
CVO: Chief veterinary officer
DCP: Dangerous-contact premises
IP: Infected premises
LDCC: Local disease control centre
NDCHQ: National disease control headquarters
OIE: International Office of Epizootics
PDS: Personal decontamination site
RA: Restricted area
SIT: Sterile insect technique


Dychdala, G.R. 1991. Chlorine and chlorine compounds. In S.S. Block, ed. Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 4th ed., p. 131–151. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.

Geering, W.A., Forman, A.J. & Nunn, M.J. 1995. Exotic diseases of animals: a field guide for Australian veterinarians. Canberra, Bureau of Resource Sciences, Australian Government Publishing Service.

Klein, M. & DeForest, A. 1981. Principles of virus inactivation. In S.S. Block, ed, Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 3rd ed., p. 422–434. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.

Kostenbauder, H.B. 1991. Physical factors influencing the activity of antimicrobial agents. In S.S. Block, ed., Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 4th ed., p. 59–71. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.

Prince, H.N., Prince, D.L., & Prince, R.N. 1991. Principles of viral control and transmission. In S.S. Block, ed., Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 4th ed., p. 411–444. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.

Quinn, P.J. 1991. Disinfection and disease prevention in veterinary medicine. In S.S. Block, ed., Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 4th ed., p. 846–870. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.

Scott, F.W. 1980. Virucidal disinfectants and feline viruses. American journal of veterinary research, 41: 410–414.

Scott, E.M. & Gorman, S.P. 1991. Glutaraldehyde: disinfection and disease prevention in veterinary medicine. In S.S. Block, ed., Disinfection, sterilization and preservation, 4th edition, p. 596–616. London and Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger.


Cleaning it up - decontamination of properties and equipment. (Video.)

AAHL 1993 (available from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory).

See the Summary document for a full list of training resources.


OIE. 1992. International animal health code, 6th ed. Paris.

OIE. 1992. Manual of standards for diagnostic tests and vaccines. 2nd ed. Paris.

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The Faxon Company Inc.
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Libreria Agropecuaria S.R.L.
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Tecni-Ciencia Libros
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Fudeco, Libreria
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Libreria FAGRO
Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV)

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Tel.: +263 4 79 31 82
Fax: +263 4 72 62 43

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