The Vermont State Veterinarian and Animal Health Section veterinarians and staff are responsible for protecting Vermont's livestock herds and poultry flocks from the introduction and spread of foreign and domestic disease through a delegation of authority from the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture. The statutory authority for this responsibility can be found in 6 V.S.A. Chapter 102-Control of Contagious Livestock Diseases. State and federal regulatory disease programs have been developed in order to implement this responsibility, and the Animal Health Section works closely with the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Region 1 office to provide technical assistance, inspection and prudent enforcement related to these programs.
Choose one of the follow links below to learn more about specific diseases and programs.
- Johne's Disease
- Equine Health
- Poultry Health
- Rabbit Health
- Swine Health
- Tissue Residue Avoidance
Biosecurity - General Information
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' Animal Health Office works collaboratively with the United States Department of Agriculture's Region 1 office and the other New England states to maintain current emergency contact information for Vermont producers and to assist farmers with the implementation of adequate on-farm biosecurity measures.
The term biosecurity refers to a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, quarantined pests, invasive species, and living modified organisms. By implementing proper on-farm biosecurity measures, producers may protect livestock and other agricultural assets. Many of the best management practices that producers can implement to ensure proper biosecurity on farms are easy and inexpensive to maintain.
Questions pertaining to on-farm biosecurity practices and related emergency preparedness issues should be directed to the Animal Health Office (802) 828-2421.
The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets works with private accredited veterinarians to monitor for the presence of Tuberculosis (TB) in Vermont's livestock herd through targeted testing of susceptible animals prior to interstate movement. Additionally, producers who sell raw milk directly to consumers are required to test their animals for Tuberculosis since this milk is not pasteurized prior to consumption. Pasteurization has been proven to destroy the causative agent of Tuberculosis. Vermont, like many other states, is considered to be Tuberculosis free. Periodically, infection is detected in herds in other states, and the movement of any infected animals into Vermont poses a risk to Vermont's livestock herd and citizens.
Tuberculosis is a contagious disease of both animals and humans. It is caused by three specific types of bacteria that are part of the Mycobacterium group: Mycobacterium bovis, M. avium, and M. tuberculosis. Bovine TB, caused by M. bovis, can be transmitted from livestock to humans and other animals.
- Learn more about Tuberculosis.
- Questions regarding Tuberculosis can be directed to the Animal Health Office at (802) 828-2421.
- To review Tuberculosis testing requirements for susceptible species imported into Vermont, review the Vermont importation rules.
Johne's Disease typically affects domestic ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. It is a progressive, incurable, wasting disease caused by bacterial infection of the intestines and other tissues. It is transmitted from an infected animal to herdmates primarily via the fecal-oral route. Please contact the University of Vermont Extension and Dr. Julie Smith to learn more about the prevention and management of Johne's Disease.
The Animal Health and Dairy Sections of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets monitor for the presence of Brucellosis in Vermont's dairy livestock herd through annual testing of bulk milk tank samples acquired from commercial dairy farms. Additionally, producers who sell raw milk directly to consumers are required to test their animals for Brucellosis since this milk is not pasteurized prior to consumption. Pasteurization has been proven to destroy the causative agent of Brucellosis. Vermont, like most other states, is considered to be Brucellosis free. Currently, the Greater Yellowstone Area of the US is the region still contending with Brucellosis, and the nidus of infection is thought to be the susceptible wildlife species in Yellowstone.
Brucellosis is a contagious, costly disease of ruminant animals that also affects humans. Although Brucellosis can attack other animals, its main threat is to cattle, bison, and swine. The disease is also known as contagious abortion or Bang's disease. In humans, it's known as undulant fever because of the severe intermittent fever accompanying human infection or Malta fever because it was first recognized as a human disease on the island of Malta.
- Learn more about Brucellosis at the USDA website or consult this fact sheet.
- Unites States Animal Health Association fact sheet on Brucellois and Brucellosis vaccination.
- Questions regarding Brucellosis can be directed to the Animal Health Office at (802) 828-2421.
- To review Brucellosis testing requirements for susceptible species imported into Vermont, review the Vermont importation rules.
- For instate diagnostic testing support, visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture laboratory's website.
Overview Vermont enjoys a diverse equine population, comprised of over 13,000 horses utilized for work, pleasure, therapy, breeding and competition. As horses move within Vermont and into other states for a multitude of reasons, they are exposed to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that may cause disease. Even horses that stay home may be at risk for disease due to the manner in which pathogens are transmitted. It is imperative that every horse owner and handler familiarize themselves with the principles of equine biosecurity and ensure that these tenets are consistently implemented at home, at boarding facilities and in competitive venues. Equine biosecurity refers to a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk for introduction and transmission of infectious disease.
It is important to remember the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" when identifying ways to protect your equine companions. The following resources contain biosecurity recommendations that you can easily implement at home and on the road, as well as tools that you can use everywhere horses are living, competing, or commingling.
- Receive general equine disease and related updates from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM) by contacting the State Veterinarian at (802) 828-2421 and requesting that your name and email address be added to the equine industry distribution list
- Stay up to date on equine disease outbreaks happening around the country, and sign up to receive automatic email alerts from the Equine Disease Communication Center
- Learn about basic equine facility biosecurity recommendations for horse owners and professionals
- Review the biosecurity toolkit for equine events, and utilize the tools in the appendices at your own event
- Find out your farm's biosecurity score and learn how to improve it
- Review fact sheets pertaining to multiple equine diseases
- Learn about how state and federal animal health officials may respond to a case of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy on your farm or at an equine event you are attending
Equine Infectious Anemia
The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets supports private veterinarians in surveying for the presence of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in the state's equine population. In addition to providing in-state diagnostic support for EIA, the Agency has promulgated rules that require EIA testing prior to moving horses interstate and also require testing in some cases of intrastate equine movement. EIA is a viral disease that affects equine animals and that can be transmitted between horses by biting insects. Since there is no vaccine or effective treatment for EIA, the Animal Health Section regulates the importation of equine animals into Vermont closely in order to ensure that infected horses do not enter the state and pose a risk to resident horses. Although Vermont has not experienced a confirmed case of EIA in a number of years, import regulations in place currently help to ensure that Vermont remains free of this disease.
- Testing requirements for imported horses: In general, all horses imported into Vermont on a temporary or permanent basis must test negative on a Coggin's test for EIA within 12 months of entry into the state.
- Testing requirements for intrastate movement: Any equine animal that is purchased, sold, offered for sale, bartered, exchanged or given away within the state must be tested for and certified as negative to EIA by an accredited veterinarian within 60 days prior to the transfer of ownership of the equine animal.
- Emergency testing authority: Any equine animal may be required to be tested for EIA if the State Veterinarian has reason to believe that the equine animal has been exposed to EIA and may pose a threat to other equine animals.
- For more information on Vermont's regulations pertaining to EIA and equine movement, refer to the equine section of Vermont's import regulations, the full text of the Rules Governing the Control and Eradication of Equine Infectious Anemia or call the Animal Health Office.
- Additional information about this disease and the federal EIA program.
- To obtain information about in-state EIA diagnostic support, visit the Agency of Agriculture laboratory's website.
Initiating a Biosecurity Program
Biosecurity refers to procedures used to prevent the introduction and spread of disease-causing organisms in poultry flocks. Initiating and maintaining a biosecurity program is an important aspect of a poultry health maintenance program. It is important to institute some aspect of a biosecurity program in order to ensure a healthy flock of birds. The primary method of spreading disease causing microorganisms between poultry flocks is the use of contaminated equipment or exposure to contaminated clothing and footwear of humans. Infected animals, such as wild birds and rodents, can also be a source of disease for poultry flocks. Disease causing viruses and bacteria can be transported from one flock to another on bird transporting equipment, trucks, tractors and other farm equipment as well as egg flats and cases. Humans and animals are also important ways of transporting disease causing organisms.
- Step-by-Step Approach to Biosecurity
- Caring for Chickens, Geese, and Ducks
- Poultry Diseases
- Biosecurity for the Birds
Keeping Yourself and Your Flock Healthy
Baby and adult poultry may appear health and clean, but they can carry diseases that may cause illness in people and in other birds. Poultry may shed disease causing germs in their droppings which can then contaminate their bodies, the areas where they live, and even the things they touch. Salmonella is one type of germ spread by live poultry, and it can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in people. Serious complications are not common and are more likely to occur in young children, the elderly, and people with existing health problems. For information about avian influenza, click here. To keep yourself and your poutlry healthy, observe the following best practices:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching live poultry.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.
- Do not allow children under five years old to handle baby chicks or other young birds.
- Wash the materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages, water bottles and food containers frequently.
- Don't let live poultry inside your home, especially in areas where food and drink are prepared, served, or stored.
- Don't snuggle or kiss the birds and don't touch your mouth after handling live poultry.
- Implement biosecurity practices on your property that allow for the quarantine of new poultry and segregation of sick birds.
- Know your birds and monitor for signs of illness.
The Secure Egg Supply Plan and Secure Turkey Supply Plan
The SES Plan promotes food security and animal health through continuity of market planning for a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. This plan makes specific science- and risk- based recommendations that state officials and emergency planners can use to rapidly decide whether to issue or deny permits for the movement of egg industry products during an HPAI outbreak. The Plan also contains a supplemental component on voluntary preparendness.
National Poultry Improvement Plan
The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) was started in the early 1930s to coordinate State programs aimed at the elimination of pullorum disease from commercial poultry. Pullorum is a bacterial disease of poultry that is transmitted from a hen to her chicks via the egg. By testing adult birds and eliminating disease carriers from the breeding flock, commercial chicken and turkey producers have greatly reduced the incidence of this costly disease.
The Plan is administered through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and “Official State Agencies” in each of the 48 participating States. Individual producers in the Plan sign a memorandum of participation with their Official State Agency. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets serves as Vermont's Official State Agency, and as such, Agency animal health specialists test poultry at Bird Swaps and other poultry commingling events throughout Vermont.
Requests for testing of an NPIP certified flock and other Program questions should be directed to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' Animal Health Office.
- To review importation requirements for poultry, refer to the poultry section of Vermont's importation rules.
- USDA NPIP information
- Hatcheries Best Practices Handbook
The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets works closely with USDA to monitor for the presence of Scrapie in Vermont's sheep and goat flocks. As a result of this collaboration, Vermont has achieved Consistent status, which means that Vermont's intrastate identification, reporting, and movement restrictions for infected and source flocks and high-risk animals are consistent with the USDA's standards for State Scrapie programs.
In order to maintain this status, Vermont's state and federal animal health officials must ensure that sheep and goats are appropriately identified. Specifically, any person who presents a sheep or goat at an exhibition, show or fair must provide for the animal official Scrapie identification to its flock of birth. Additionally, any person who transfers ownership of a sheep or goat within Vermont, or who moves off of the farm of origin for any reason, must adhere to the same identification requirement.
- Learn more about Scrapie or to obtain instructions for how to enroll in the national Scrapie Flock Certification Program.
- Review the full text of Vermont's rule pertaining to Scrapie Disease control.
- To review other importation requirements for sheep and goats, refer to sheep and goat section of Vermont's importation rules.
Management plays a large role in how disease is expressed in a swine herd and it can limit the transmission of disease within the farm as well as between farms. Biosecurity is a mindset that farm managers maintain in order to prevent the introduction of new pathogens into a herd and to limit the spread of already established pathogens within a herd. Since each farm is different, there is no “one size fits all” biosecurity plan. However, several science-based best practices have been identified, such as controlled introduction of new stock onto a site, cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicles, all in all out production and the control of vectors, such as rodents.
Please visit the National Pork Board and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians for resources and more information on disease such as African Swine Fever, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrom.
Contact the Animal Health Section at (802) 828-2421 for your free biosecurity kit!
- Feeding Food Scraps to Swine
- Vermont Guidance Regarding Feeding Food Scraps to Pigs
- Biosecurity for pasture-based swine operations
- Measures to minimize influenza transmission at swine exhibitions
- Swine Exhibition Biosecurity
- By-Product Feed Ingredients for Use in Swine Diets
- African Swine Fever Clinical Signs Fact Sheet
Tissue Residue Avoidance
On-farm therapeutic use of animal health care products occurs to treat disease, injury and other maladies of livestock and poultry. In the early 1990s, FDA, in collaboration with states, established a fluid milk screening process to ensure that medications administered to dairy livestock do not result in violative residues in milk consumed by the public. Today, all milk is screened before it is accepted into a processing plant. Milk that tests positive for antibiotic residues is rejected for human consumption and appropriately discarded.
Targeted testing for drug residues is also performed at slaughter in order to help prevent the presence of violative drug residues in meat-based foods. The most common reasons that animals end up at slaughter with illegal and unsafe levels of medications in their organs and tissues include the administration of incorrect drug dosages via inappropriate routes (IV vs. IM), feeding of antibiotic-containing milk replacer to bob veal, and lack of observance of appropriate withhold times once animals have been medicated.
In 2011, the legislature authorized the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to issue administrative penalties against producers whose animals are found to have violative residues at slaughter. It is imperative that Vermont producers work diligently to reduce the incidence of violative drug residues in milk and meat. The links below contain producer educational materials that may assist in this effort. Additionally, producers are encouraged to work closely with their veterinarian to develop best management practices that will lessen the incidence of violative drug residues in milk and meat. The importance of the collaboration with the herd/flock veterinarian is heightened with the FDA's 2015 amendment of the new animal drug regulations to implement the veterinary feed directive (VFD) drugs section of the Animal Drugs Availability Act of 1996. FDA concurrently revised Guidance for Industry #120, Veterinary Feed Directive Regulation. A VFD drug is intended for use in animal feeds, and such use of the VFD drug is permitted only under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Questions regarding drug residues in meat and milk can be directed to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' Animal Health Office.