20 October 2017 - As part of FAO’s effort to enhance the One Health approach, EMPRES organized awareness raising sessions on Emergency carcass management: risk reduction and environment sustainability, aimed at providing guidance on low cost methods of carcasses disposal for countries with limited resources. This can ensure not only the containment of animal disease spread but also human and environmental health together.
FAO’s Emergency Prevention System in Animal Health (EMPRES-AH) is actively working on improving preparedness capacities of countries along with strengthening operational capabilities for response and recovery in animal health emergencies. Strategies for reducing risks from carcass management during Animal Diseases outbreaks retains a significant importance to address issues related to diseases emergencies and environmental sustainability.
On 4th October 11, 2017 Dr Lori Miller, Environment Engineer from USDA visited FAO and did presentations on ‘Strategies for Reducing Risk and Expediting Recovery from Avian Influenza and other outbreaks’. Her presentation aimed at raising awareness on risks and challenges associated with managing infected animal carcasses as a result of animal disease outbreaks such as avian influenza or Foot and Mouth Disease virus affecting small ruminants, poultry or cattle. It also covered traditional carcass management approaches including burning and burial, and how these approaches have had adverse impacts on the environment and human health when used on a large scale.
“Whether agents are introduced intentionally or accidentally, animal disease outbreak response includes destroying affected animals, disposing of infected material, and decontaminating affected people, premises, and things, ” She said, adding that “globally, all our countries will benefit from using more sustainable options that contain inactivate pathogens, protect public health, and conserve valuable resources such as protein and nutrients in carcasses.”
To mitigate the overall risks, she recommended a consideration of alternatives to burial such as sustainable carcass management, particularly composting and vaccination, euthanisation of infected animals quickly to reduce virus production, ensuring a quick carcass management implementation after euthanasia to minimize vector spread and where carcasses must be stored, to make sure they are covered and leaking liquids are properly contained. Dr Lori highlighted the fact that composting provides a sustainable solution to carcasses disposal and can be done with local material in the poultry house or adjacent to it. She added, the compost material can be used after about 28 days as fertilizers when the poultry house can be repopulated.
The awareness raising session also detailed the physical and chemical mechanisms related to burial which can have severe public health consequences depending on the specific location. It also provided insights on how the consequences can best be addressed through engineering design.
Dr Gary Flory, Agricultural Program Manager for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, presented selected ways that can be implemented to undertake carcass management through Composting and Aboveground Burial practices as Disposal Options in a broader arena. “We need to consider impacts on the communities, what the outcomes would be if that burial facility is built over drinking water supply, and what impact would it have on the environment, in technical and financial terms, Pathogen and scale of the event; all of which need to be factored in the methodology.” Gary said.
Dr Eran Raizmen, head of Emergency Prevention System in Animal Health (EMPRES-AH), headquarter of FAO, said, “this is a very important topic because as we work with many countries and across the world, we often face the need to better approach emergencies in terms of animal disposal. This is also classical example of One Health since it involves Animal health, Human Health and of course the environment.” He concluded by saying FAO continues its collaboration with both researchers and others on raising awareness among countries on the importance of disposal methods to mitigate risks associated with spread of diseases and maintain environmental sustainability.