As a consumer, I'm concerned about mad cow disease. Can you give me information?
With recent information that has surfaced, it is natural to have concerns about mad cow disease and the affect it may have on consumers. Because this concern involves our food supply, consumers should certainly become informed. However, they should recognize that on the basis of statistics or risk analysis, they are at a much lower risk of any problems related to mad cow disease than they are when they enter the shower, ride in a car or plane or attend a public function. The following are commonly asked questions about mad cow disease.
- What is BSE? Commonly called mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a disease of cattle which causes a degeneration of brain tissue, inability to move or function normally and eventual death.
- What causes BSE? It is caused by a small piece of protein called a prion in the cattle’s brain that interferes with brain functioning and gradually spreads within the brain.
- Does BSE affect humans? Yes. The disease in man is called “new variant CJD” or variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. There have been approximately 150 people affected, most from the United Kingdom where BSE originated. All those afflicted with vCJD had the same genetic structure. This appears to indicate that those who do not carry this specific genetic makeup may have increased resistance to the disease.
- How is it transmitted? The transmission from cattle to humans comes from humans eating infected tissues or contaminated meat products. BSE was amplified in U.K. cattle by feeding rendered meat and bone meal from infected, slaughtered cattle to non-infected, live cattle. The cattle tissues that are infective are brain, spinal cord and the retina of the eye. These tissues may contaminate other non-infected tissues through mishandling or mixing.
- What is the incubation period? The incubation period in cattle is usually 2 1/2 to 6 years, so the peak of disease occurs in cattle 4-5 years old. In man, the incubation period is thought to be 8 to 10 years, but could be twice that long or longer.
- Why is age at slaughter an important consideration in regard to risk of BSE? Because of the long incubation period, infected cattle rarely have been found at less than 30 months of age. Approximately 80 percent of the cattle slaughtered in the U.S. are under 30 months old and would not be potential transmitters, even if the disease were present in this country. Most cattle are slaughtered at 12-18 months of age.
- Why is the concern for BSE different than that of other pathogens in regard to food safety? The protein that causes BSE is not destroyed by the usual cooking methods that would control bacterial or viral foodborne illnesses. Although the protein does not multiply and increase in numbers during storage, it must be kept completely out of the food supply.
- Should I stop serving beef to my family? Beef remains an economical source of valuable nutrients, and the risk of buying beef containing BSE is extremely low to nonexistent. Most roasts and steaks found in stores are from young animals that are not potential problems. Controls are in place for handling meat from older animals.
- What protective measures have been implemented to maximize food safety? Importing live cattle or ruminant animal products has long been prohibited from countries that have BSE. Feeding meat and bone meal from cattle back to cattle has been prohibited since 1997. Brain tissue has been tested for many years on cattle that are most likely to have BSE, especially those showing impaired brain function. More than 20,000 cattle were tested in 2003 and that is how the one case was found. More testing will now be required. Disabled cattle are now prohibited from entering the human food supply. Tissues at risk of contaminating are now prohibited for human food consumption. Butchering methods are being modified in older animals to not include the backbone. This will avoid contamination from the spinal cord. A new system of animal identification will be implemented. This will provide information if an animal tests positive or is even a suspected BSE case. The animal can then be traced to its farm or ranch of origin. Then other infected animals can be prevented from entering the food market.
- Most of the information and regulations have come nationally from the USDA and FDA. What about cattle slaughtered in Utah? Utah has a meat inspection system equal in requirements to the USDA national system.
- What can I do, as a consumer, to protect myself and my family? Become informed. Ask questions about procedures or issues you don’t understand. Your local County Extension office can help you find information. If you become aware of actual or potential violations in the feeding or marketing system, contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to report your concern. Realize, also, that this is a complex topic, and some media reports may have details omitted. Often those details would further explain why some actions were or were not taken.
- Posted on 16 Nov 2006
Food Safety Specialist
Extension Economist, Agricultural Program Leader
Regional Economics Specialist
Do you have tips for pet care in the heat?
In your quest to keep cool this summer, don’t forget to keep your pets out of the heat as well. Since animals can’t tell you if they’re too hot, keep these tips in mind:
- Know where your pet is when the temperature rises. Cats tend to find a cool place to hide in the heat. Dogs don’t do this as much and subsequently end up having more heat-related problems.
- Be aware of haircoat length. Pets do not perspire from the body, so haircoat does not make them hotter. In fact, haircoat can actually act as an insulator and give them protection from the heat. Even Northern breeds of dogs, adapted to colder weather, can get by without a hair clipping this time of year. If the haircoat is matted, a full body clip may be needed to restore the normal coat. If this is the case, use caution immediately after the clipping to avoid sunburn, even though the animal has some hair stubble left. Then brush regularly to avoid hair mats in the future.
- Do not lock your pet in the car. If the temperature is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes or less. Simply cracking the windows does not give sufficient ventilation. It is best to leave your pet at home. If you must take it with you, tie it outside the car with access to shade and water. Check it frequently. Use a rope or chain that your pet can’t chew through or loosen.
- Provide some form of shade for dogs in a kennel. Pouring or spraying water on soil in the shade will also help cool your dog during the afternoon heat. If the kennel surface is concrete or asphalt, shade is even more critical. A small spray or flow of water across the surface will help during the daylight hours. Always make sure there is plenty of fresh drinking water as well.
- Be aware of panting, since this is how dogs get rid of excess body heat. Do not do anything to interfere with this. Be cautious of strenuous activities like taking your dog on hikes or bike rides. Take water and frequently give the dog small amounts. Watch the extent and amount of panting. If panting seems excessive and the dog’s mouth is wide open, heat stroke may be approaching.
- Know the signs of heatstroke. They include excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, anxious or staring expression, rapid pulse and high body temperature. Heatstroke can cause permanent brain damage and death. Emergency treatment includes immersing the animal in cool water or pouring cool water over the body and allowing it to evaporate. Ice packs can be applied to the head. If these suggestions do not help, take your pet to the veterinarian for medical treatment, which includes intravenous fluids and electrolytes to help bring the system back into balance.
- Posted on 18 Jul 2006
How can I keep my pet safe during the holiday hoopla?
The holidays are here — the lights are bright, delicious food abounds and holiday plants and trees are set out. Humans love these things. Unfortunately, so do many pets, and holiday foods and decor can be hazardous to them. To keep your pets safe, watch them carefully this time of year and be aware of the following dangers.
- · Chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine compounds. These are methylxanthines that cause stimulation of the nervous system. Milk chocolate contains about 6 mg of caffeine and 44-56 mg of theobromine per ounce. Baking chocolate contains about 10 times those amounts of each compound. The amounts of caffeine and theobromine in semisweet and dark chocolate fall between milk chocolate and baking chocolate. About 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight can result in tremors or seizures in dogs. Thus, much lower amounts of semisweet or baking chocolate could cause the same effect. A dog that eats a significant amount of chocolate should be taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
- Plants. Poinsettias have a reputation of being very poisonous to pets; however, this is a myth. Poinsettia ingestion by pets can result in digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea), but nothing more. Floral arrangements containing day lilies, tiger lilies, rubrum lilies or lilium-type hybrid lilies can be lethal to cats. Ingestion of as little as two or three leaves or parts of the flower can result in kidney damage leading to kidney failure in cats. However, at worst, it causes only an upset stomach in other animals. Holly and mistletoe are potentially toxic ornamental plants. Natural evergreen trees, if ingested, may cause pets to have an upset stomach, but nothing more.
- Water additives. Water additives for natural trees are generally composed of low concentrations of fertilizers and sugars. These materials are not dangerous to pets unless high amounts of fungus or bacteria are growing in the water. Keep tree water and additives fresh.
- Holiday foods. Ingestion of poultry bones can cause pets to have digestive tract obstructions or perforations. Poultry bones splinter easily, causing sharp points that can be dangerous and even life threatening if swallowed. Ingesting an excessive amount of table scraps or grease can cause pets to have digestive upset or even life threatening symptoms. The ingestion of an excessive amount of fat can cause a dog to develop pancreatitis. Moldy refrigerated foods can contain toxins produced by the molds. Often these molds and toxins attract dogs. Some penicillium and aspergillis molds produce tremorogenic mycotoxins, especially when they grow under colder temperatures. This type of toxin can cause an acute onset of seizures in pets.
- Ornaments. Small moving ornaments may stimulate the curiosity of pets. If ingested, ornaments can cause choking or digestive tract obstructions. If ingested, tinsel can cause obstructions as well. Lights and wiring can be lethal if pets chew into the cords.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006
Utah State University Veterinary Diagnostician/Toxicologist
How can I keep my pet safe in the dipping outdoor temperatures?
Chilling winter temperatures can be harmful and even deadly for domestic animals. To keep pets safe this time of year, watch their behavior closely and be mindful of their physical needs. Consider these tips.
- Watch pets’ behavior. If they are shivering, alternately lifting feet or their body is in a hunched position, they are cold and need to be housed where it is warm. Even if they are frolicking or stretched comfortably in the sun, be aware that winter conditions can quickly change and become dangerous to pets. During severe winter storms or cold periods, observe and check on outside pets often. Bring them into a garage or other partially heated room if necessary for a period of time. Check the area closely, however, so that dangerous items are out of their reach.
- Be mindful of the tolerance level of your pet. Each breed acclimates differently to winter weather. Husky and Samoyed dogs have a thick undercoat that keeps them warm in severe weather. Labradors have a much shorter coat, but it is well designed for both cold and water. These dogs also form an extra thick layer of fat that acts as insulation. Even on the coldest days, they will still jump into open water for a swim. However, all animals can run into danger with the combination of cold temperatures and wetness, and owners should be watchful of this.
- Decide early if your pet will be kept indoors or outdoors. Since acclimation is the key to their comfort, you should decide in the fall where they will be kept. If they are exposed to cold weather as the temperatures change in the fall, their body will respond with increased haircoat growth and additional body fat. The worst scenario for these animals is to be kept indoors during the fall, then get sent outdoors full time when it becomes bitter cold. Their bodies need time to acclimate. The opposite of this is also true. It is almost as bad for owners to get pets acclimated to the cold, then suddenly bring them inside a 75 degree home full time. Drastic changes can be a hardship for animals. Some short-haired, thin-skinned animals are not suited for outdoor winter living, no matter how much acclimation is provided. They should be kept indoors since these animals usually adapt much better to hot weather.
- Keep cats safe. Cats are best kept indoors in winter. However, if they need to be kept outside, provide a bed for them where they are protected from wind, rain, snow and other animals. Most cats can acclimate well to the outdoors if they are provided with some form of protection. Also be aware of two hazards for cats in the winter: antifreeze and car radiator fans. Most antifreeze used in car radiators is toxic to animals if ingested. It also has a sweet taste, so if it drips onto the garage floor, cats will readily drink it and can be fatally poisoned. The car radiator fan is a hazard since cats will often climb up into the auto motor-mount area and stay there, enjoying the warmth. The cat may be injured if it is sitting by the radiator fan when the car is started.
- Be mindful of indoor dogs’ needs. Provide a sweater for indoor dogs when they go outdoors for long periods of time. When temperatures are cold, consider setting a timer as a reminder to let them back inside if you are not with them. Periodic outdoor exercise is beneficial to dogs, but be aware of their behavior to determine the time and distance they can endure cold weather conditions. Protect your dog with a fence or by keeping it on a leash.
- Keep outdoor dogs safe. Provide some type of housing to protect outdoor dogs from rain, snow and cold. An insulated dog house is beneficial in very cold weather, but it must be constructed so the dog cannot chew through to the insulation and ingest it. The dog house should be large enough to allow the dog comfort as it gets in and out and as it lays or sits in the house. It should also be small enough that it is warmed by the dog’s body heat. There must be an adequate bedding of straw, sawdust, shavings or blankets to provide insulation from the undersurface, since cement acts as a conductor and draws body heat away. The doorway should be covered with a flap of thick fabric or plastic to allow the dog to enter and exit while still keeping the wind out. The entrance should be turned away from prevailing wind. Check the house often for dryness, as the dog may carry water in on its haircoat and soak the inside of the house. If the dog is not using the house, it may be a signal that something is wrong and it is more uncomfortable inside than out.
- Regularly provide water, and be sure it does not get frozen solid. Keep electrical cords where dogs cannot get to them, since they can easily chew through the cords and become electrocuted. It is generally best not to use a light or heat lamp to warm the dog house, due to risk of fire or electrocution.
- Outdoor dogs need extra energy in the winter. One way to provide this is by adding one to two tablespoons of fat to a balanced dog food diet each day. Bacon fat drippings are especially good since they contain the essential fatty acids needed for skin health. Be aware, however, that some dogs may have food allergies. During the winter, a small amount of extra fat cover is an important insulator and the extra energy is needed to maintain body heat in the cold.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006
How can I protect my animals against foot and mouth disease?
Although Foot (hoof) and Mouth Disease is still a foreign animal disease, producers
in the United States should be aware of the disease and its symptoms and do what they
can to prevent it from entering the United States.
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) affects all cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, sheep, swine, deer, elk and goats. It does not affect horses or humans. Symptoms of the disease include blisters on the lips, in the mouth and on the feet. Sloughing of the skin then occurs, and the mouth becomes so tender that animals cannot eat. It can also cause lesions on the feet, some so severe that the hooves actually slough off (especially in swine). This becomes so painful to the animal that euthanasia is required, even in countries where FMD occurs consistently.
Consider these tips to protect against FMD. The same principles of caution apply whether you own a producer operation or you are taking your animals to a county fair.
- Control the access of people, animals and products to your animals and operation. The access of non-employees to animals can generally be controlled by fences, barriers and signs. Signs should instruct people not to enter unless authorized to do so, due to concerns for animal health.
- Verbally screen those people coming into your operation. Since two thirds of all countries carry the FMD virus, it is wise to ask everyone who comes into your operation if they have been out of the United States in the past two weeks. If not, they do not pose a threat to your operation. If they have been traveling internationally, find out what countries they have visited and when. The current concern is anyone who has travelled to the United Kingdom within the past 14 days. Other areas of concern are South America, Asia and Africa, as well as Columbia, which has three out of the seven strains of the disease. These areas have low levels of FMD that are always present.
- Do not handle livestock for five days after your return if you have travelled to a country with FMD. Be sure to shower, shampoo, use a disinfectant foot bath, wash all clothes and clean and disinfect shoes and boots. Preferably, shoes and boots used on a farm in another country should be left there and not brought home. Encourage anyone coming in contact with your animals who has travelled internationally to follow these procedures as well. The virus will not live on a person, their shoes or clothing for more than a few days. In spite of this, it is still wise to ask questions of anyone who is around your animals.
- Strictly follow the guidelines of customs or other agents if you travel internationally. Do not bring animal products into the country that are prohibited. Foreign meat and cheese products pose a special threat. The risk occurs when parts of the products are thrown into the garbage and are then fed to animals or put in a place where birds have access to them.
- Immediately begin a lock down program if there is ever an FMD outbreak in the United States. Do not let animals, people or products on your property or near your animals unless you are sure they are safe. Be sure they have gone through the disinfectant process mentioned above. Also be cautious of animal products, since they can pose as great a threat as a person or animal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect an outbreak of FMD in your own animals. Your veterinarian will then notify the state and/or federal veterinarians.
There are other diseases that look very much like FMD, and after collecting tissue
samples, the veterinarians can have a diagnosis within 24 hours for you. During that
time, you would be asked to put up signs to block entry and keep all people and animals
off your operation until you have clearance from state or federal veterinarians.
There is no reason to panic about the possibility of an FMD outbreak in the United States, but anyone involved with animals should be aware of the disease and its prevention.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006
I have a small flock of about 25 chickens. They range in age from 7-10 months. Recently I've had about 8 of them die. The first signs of a problem were blood on the outside of the egg shells. Then I noticed that several of them had bloody areas around the vent and under the tail. All but a couple of those with the symptoms have died. The few that recovered seem to be OK with 1 exception, and that hen no longer lays eggs, and has a very grungy appearance. After death, if you pick up the bird and examine it, the vent is wide open and you can see right down into the center of the bird. The last bird I found I could even see an egg yolk inside the body cavity. Could you give me a best guess as to what might be causing this and what steps I can take to relieve the problem? I noticed on one hen that I lost this week, that in the day or two before she died, she had a white runny diarrhea, didn't seem interested in eating or drinking and shortly before death she seemed to swell and have a puffy appearance. Another is the roosters, one has had all the smaller feathers around the tail pecked out, and has raw looking skin in that area, the other is missing most of the feathering on his breast. Several of the hens have no feathers in the vent area (probably from what you describe) and on the lower back just above the tail. The main thing I was wondering about is the diarrhea...when I noticed that, I did some research online, and kept coming up with pullorum, and I was wondering if that might be a problem. They say it's nearly eradicated, but occasionally shows up in a backyard flock. What are the chances of that, and what other symptoms should I watch for? If it was that, besides getting rid of the flock, what other steps would I need to take to make the coop safe for future use?
This is a problem of vent picking (cannibalism). It usually begins by one hen picking
at the vent of another hen as she is laying an egg. Once blood is drawn, other chickens
will peck incessantly at the wounded chicken. Eventually, the vent picking may become
a contagious habit within the flock and the hens will learn to cannibalize each other.
Unfortunately, once this vicious habit gets started, it is hard to control.
Reasons for vent picking include excessively bright lighting, too hot of an environmental temperature (not the case this time of year in April), perhaps a marginal B vitamin or mineral deficiency, and boredom.
Prevention includes making sure the hens have a fresh supply of lay feed purchased at a reliable feed store, plenty of water, do not crowd the birds, provide nests for the hens to lay eggs in seclusion away from other hens.
Once an outbreak occurs, darken the coop from bright sunlight, clip off the end of the beak perhaps 3 to 4 millimeters, and hang a flake of leafy hay from a string tied from the ceiling to provide entertainment and reduce boredom. If the condition continues, get rid of the affected flock and start over with new hens. Don’t add new birds to a flock that vent picks or there is a good probability the new hens will learn this vice from the others.
There are various causes of diarrhea, pullorum being a possibility, but there are many others also including coccidiosis, other intestinal infections, and even broken eggs in the oviduct. Only through laboratory examination can most causes be diagnosed.
There is a blood test for pullorum; however, most private practicing veterinarians aren’t equipped to do it. Pullorum disease is caused by Salmonella pullorum and is egg transmitted. It has been eradicated in the commercial poultry industry by testing breeder flocks and culling reactors. Occasionally it may show up in noncommercial poultry – the only solution is culling of infected birds.
Another thing regarding picking of feathers and sores on the vent is to look at your rodent and varmint control in the poultry house. Mice will nibble at the lower areas of the birds while roosting at night. Skunks will get in the coop and eat eggs and chew on carcasses. Normally they do not outright kill the chickens, but weasels or raccoons could.
Posted on 14 Apr 2008
My Jersey bull ate some Wal-Mart plastic bags, what can I do to help him get rid of them?
Cattle tend to eat all sorts of strange things. This type of plastic should not be too serious, but that depends on how many were eaten. If just 2-5, he should pass them okay, eventually. If more than that, it is possible they could form a "ball" of plastic in the rumen and remain there for quite some time, and cause some indigestion (off feed). The greatest hazard is that one portion of the plastic get trapped in one section of intestine while another portion move on down and then the "string" of plastic between the two "balls" of plastic can act like a saw and cut through the intestine as it is making its normal movements to move feed down the intestine.
If he ate a lot, you could consider having a veterinarian do a rumenotomy to remove the plastic from the rumen (first stomach). But, since this was sent on April 3, it is probably too late for that anyway as the plastic has probably moved further into the digestive tract. So, if he is eating okay, I would do nothing and just watch the feces for evidence that the plastic is passing on through. If he becomes ill, you had better contact a local veterinarian for an exam and evaluation. I don't know of anything else that can be done to help them pass on through.
Posted on 15 May 2007
Smelling skunk? Tips to achieving olfactory relief
The largest and most common skunk in Utah is the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).
About the size of a large house cat, it weighs four to five pounds. Striped skunks are black with two broad, white stripes running from the back of the head to the tip of the large, bushy tail.
The scent of a skunk can send a quick wave of panic through anyone. In addition to being infamous for spraying when threatened, this nocturnal mammal can also cause other problems. Consider this information:
Skunks will raid poultry houses for eggs and dig up lawns, golf courses and other sodded areas searching for white grubs and earthworms. They are also predators of waterfowl and game bird nests.
Skunks are a public health concern because they are the major wildlife carrier of rabies. This disease is widespread in the skunk population throughout Utah. The incubation period of rabies in infected animals is variable, but can be extremely long. The length an infected animal is actually transmissible also varies, ranging from three days to two weeks before the onset of symptoms. Once symptoms appear, the disease will normally kill the infected animal within a few days.
Diseased animals may display abnormal behavior such as a staggering, blundering walk, aggression toward people or animals or daylight activity. Skunks that display such abnormal behavior may be rabid and should be avoided or destroyed.
Skunks are protected under state law. However, they may be taken at any time without a hunting or furbearer license and by any method, provided local laws and ordinances are not violated, such as discharging firearms within city limits.
The best control for skunks around buildings is prevention. Do not allow them to establish themselves in or under buildings. All holes in foundations or other points of possible entry should be sealed using sheet metal, cement, hardware cloth or bricks.
If a skunk has already become established under a building, all openings but one should be sealed. Sprinkle a 2-foot square patch of flour in front of the remaining opening. Check the flour patch two to three hours after dark for tracks. If the tracks show that the skunk has left, seal the opening at once. When the skunk returns and cannot get back in, it will leave the area. This method should not be used in April, May or June since there is a chance that young skunks may be present and could be sealed in.
A skunk’s odor is its best line of defense — it is one of the most persistent and offensive odors in nature. Diluted solutions of vinegar or tomato juice can be used to remove most of the odor from pets, people and clothing. Clothing can also be soaked in weak solutions of ammonia. If the mishap occurs while camping, clothing can be smoked over a juniper fire.
If you happen to get sprayed in the eyes, a burning sensation and temporary blindness will likely occur. Recovery time can be hastened by rinsing the eyes with cold water.
Walls, rooms or other areas that have been sprayed by a skunk can be treated with neutroleum alpa. If the chemical is not available through local cleaning supply stores, check on-line. Also, many cleaning stores now have products that can remove the odor.
In spite of the problems they can cause, skunks do have some benefit. Their chief economic advantage is that they consume large numbers of harmful pests such as cutworms, armyworms, grasshoppers, white grubs and field mice.
For more information on how to cope with skunks in your area, contact your local county Extension agent for a copy of the Extension bulletin, “Skunks,” or visit the Extension Web site at http://extension.usu.edu/.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006
Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist
The recent storms have caused runoff from my animal feeding operation. What should I do?
The rain and snow of the last few weeks have been a welcome sight in much of our drought-ridden state. However, the precipitation has also brought about tragedies and challenges that have land and homeowners scrambling. In many areas, the amount of precipitation exceeded the 24-hour/25-year storm event.
Because of the precipitation, many farmers and ranchers are now dealing with runoff from animal feeding operations. Owners and operators should be aware that several scenarios can occur. Consider this information.
- Imminent discharge. In this situation, discharge has not yet occurred, but will likely occur within a short time if ignored. This generally happens when liquid or solid manure storages are nearing capacity or when manure has potential to run off an application field. In response, owner/operators should attempt to prevent the release of manure. If this is not possible, options include: adding soil to the berm, increasing the dam’s elevation, beginning an emergency utilization of manure by pumping it onto fields at acceptable rates, stopping all additional flow (waterers, flushing systems, etc.) to the storage, calling a pumping contractor, preventing surface water from entering the storage and maintaining grassland near the storage for emergency manure application. Initiate these activities before storages exceed their temporary storage level.
- Potential runoff from the application field is another problem. This could result from unexpected rains during the field application of manure. Again, try to prevent the release of manure to neighboring areas. To do this you can stop additional manure application, contain the manure on the field by creating a temporary diversion or berm and if possible, prevent further runoff by incorporating the manure.
- Pollution in progress. In this case, the storage or manure handling system is actively discharging. It is important to quickly stop the flow and minimize the discharge’s impact on the environment by doing the following: stop the flow into the pipe, pit or liquid storage; prevent additional discharge by turning off the recycle flushing system, close valves controlling outflows to prevent a siphon effect; dig a holding area or construct a berm to contain discharge waters; repair defective components such as berm leaks caused by animals; trap or remove animals and fill holes with compacted clay soil. Permanent repair of storage problems may require consulting someone who is experienced in manure storage design and installation.
- Pollution discovered after the fact. This occurs when s several days have passed before a discharge is discovered. Because the discovery was delayed, environmental impact may be increased. Thus, response should be swift to minimize damage. Stop additional discharge; contain spilled manure; attempt to apply spilled manure on cropland; notify agencies and local authorities; and assess the environmental impact of fish kills, surface water pollution, well water or groundwater impact, as well as the amount and duration of the manure released. If manure must be applied on fields, increase the application setback distance from water sources (rivers, streams, ponds, irrigation conveyance ditches, etc).
An emergency preparedness and response plan should be in place to mitigate the current or future discharge of manure and excess water. This is a basic, yet thorough, common-sense plan that will help you make the right decision during an emergency. Such a plan shows responsible preparation, protects you and others against environmental damage and should meet state requirements. Emergency preparedness and response plans are needed to minimize the environmental impact of manure spills, discharges or mishaps.
For more information on developing an emergency preparedness and response plan, contact your local Utah State University Cooperative Extension agricultural agent, the local USDA-NRCS or the local Utah Conservation District.
What can I do to prevent vole damage in my yard?
Voles are small, micelike critters that can cause severe damage to orchards, ornamentals and trees by girdling. Sometimes the damage they do is credited to mice and rabbits. Voles usually eat grasses, forbs, roots, bark, snails and insects, and to find food, they build tunnels and surface runways. They prefer heavy ground cover of grasses and grasslike plants or litter. Here are some tips to help control them:
- Eliminate weeds, ground cover and litter around lawns and ornamental plantings.
- Cover should be cleared three feet or more from the base of trees.
- Cylinders of hardware cloth can protect individual plants and should be buried six inches below the ground surface.
- Frightening devices are ineffective.
- Two repellents are approved — Thiram is a fungicide and capsicin is the chemical that makes peppers hot. They alter the taste of plants and make them unpalatable, but their effectiveness is shortlived.
- Lethal control includes two approved toxicants — zinc phosphide and anticoagulants. Both can be effective but there are safety concerns that must be addressed before using them. Information about these toxicants is available through your local USU Extension office.
- If voles invade the home, which is rare, they can be removed with the same snap traps or live traps used for mice.
- While they pose no major public health problems, voles can carry disease organisms and should only be handled with appropriate protective clothing such as leather gloves.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006
Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist
What can I do to protect my animals from West Nile virus?
West Nile virus was introduced to Utah last year, and because it now exists in our resident population (especially in birds), there will likely be an outbreak again this year.
West Nile virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes that become infected when they feed on birds with the virus. The virus stays in the mosquito’s salivary glands, and during blood feeding, it is injected into the animal. The virus then multiplies and may cause illness in the animal. However, there is no reason to destroy an animal that has been infected with West Nile virus. Full recovery from the infection is likely after treatment. There is no documented evidence of person-to-person, animal-to-animal or animal-to-person transmission of West Nile virus.
Consider this information to protect your animals from the disease.
- Horses and mules can be seriously affected with West Nile virus; therefore, vaccination of equine animals is encouraged. There are currently two vaccines that can be used to provide protection. Both are sold through veterinarians only. The vaccine should be given prior to mosquito season. The first year, two doses are necessary with three to four weeks between doses. The animal will not have protective immunity until two weeks after the second dose. After the first year, only one dose is necessary. Equines can also receive a booster dose during peak season (August and September) to provide extra protection if an area is experiencing a heavy outbreak of West Nile virus. Owners should consult with their veterinarian about timing, use in pregnant mares or use in foals.
- Cats, dogs and most traditional house pets are not likely to have problems with West Nile virus. They can be carriers of the virus, but they cannot transmit it to humans or other animals. Veterinarians and pet owners should take normal infection control precautions when caring for an animal suspected of having this or any other viral infection.
- If you find a dead crow or raptor, contact your local health department or the regional office of the Division of Wildlife Resources. They may then sample other birds to determine if West Nile virus is present in the area. The Utah Department of Health will also conduct testing of selected birds for West Nile virus. Testing is conducted by collecting oral swabs and sending them to a testing lab. For further information on dead birds, visit: http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/wnv/dead_bird.html or go to the West Nile virus page at:http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/wnv/
For further information on West Nile virus, visit: http://extension.usu.edu/files/agpubs/WestNileWeb.pdf
The Utah Department of Health has information at: http://health.utah.gov/wnv/
The Utah Dept of Agriculture and Food keeps an updated site on the current status in horses and animals at: http://ag.utah.gov/wnv/wnv_home.html The site also has questions and answers and other informational links.
Posted on 18 Jul 2006