MSU Extension is a great resource for research-based, factual information. One resource that has become vitally important over the past month has been a section that can be accessed from the msuextension.org website under a heading titled, “MSU COVID-19 Resources for You and Your Family.” There are different subsections after you click on the link and I would like to share one resource about agriculture.
COVID-19 spreads through relatively close contact but doesn’t survive long outside of the host. Contacting respiratory droplets from someone sneezing close to you or picking up the virus from handling a doorknob that is contaminated with mucus from an infected person, can spread the disease. The good news is that coronaviruses can be killed by many disinfectants and normal handwashing procedures, as well as environmental exposure.
For agricultural producers, it’s important to note that there is no current evidence that this outbreak is affecting livestock or any species besides humans. The recommendations that follow apply to general precautions against introducing or spreading disease on the farm or ranch, which are excellent practices to follow at all times.
Keeping barns and other farm buildings clean is one of the keys
to reducing potential disease spread.
Be sure your farm and family biosecurity is strong. Keep all visitors to your farm, wildlife and new livestock out of direct contact with your animals, as well as their feed and water.
Use good management to keep your family’s and your animals’ innate immunity strong. Good nutrition, housing, ventilation, water and general hygiene will strengthen immune defenses and reduce the chance of serious disease of any kind.
Be a good observer. Report serious illnesses to your veterinarian as appropriate. It’s always good to discuss how to best address illnesses on the farm. Usual occurrences of disease and losses will occur on farms but shouldn’t be confused with more serious disease.
Keep enough resources on hand to be able to manage if backups are needed. You should have replacements for essential items at the farm, as well as at least two weeks’ worth of supplies.
So, what about cleaning and disinfecting? The Centers for Disease Control suggests simple environmental cleaning and disinfecting if respiratory disease is present. These reasonable steps for both in the home and on the farm include cleaning doorknobs, as well as kitchen and bathroom handles and surfaces. Surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface you are cleaning. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.