John C. Gordon, D.V.M., MPH
Associate Professor, Veterinary Preventive Medicine
Teresa Y. Morishita, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Extension Poultry Veterinarian and Associate Professor
Having an effective cleaning and disinfection program is a crucial step in every poultry-biosecurity program. A cleaning and disinfection program should be instituted after a poultry building has been depopulated and before restocking occurs on the farm. The main purpose of a cleaning and disinfection program is to reduce the number of pathogens (disease-causing agents) in the environment. By reducing pathogen numbers, we can reduce the potential for diseases to occur in our poultry flock.
The disease agents we are concerned about include viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. It is important to identify the pathogens we want to eliminate, as certain disinfectants are ineffective against certain disease agents. Hence, to maximize an effective cleaning and disinfection program, it is important to identify what disease agent(s) we want to eliminate or reduce on the farm.
The first step in any cleaning and disinfection program is cleaning. Cleaning is the physical removal of organic material (i.e., manure, blood, feed, and carcasses). It is important to remove these organic materials before the disinfection process begins because disease agents are often protected in these materials and can survive the disinfection process. Hence, it is important to thoroughly clean a building before the disinfection process. The cleaning process can include a dry cleaning and a wet cleaning step.
Dry cleaning involves the physical removal of organic material, such as the removal of feed, litter, and manure. The process of dry cleaning physically removes the organic material before the actual wet cleaning can occur. Wet cleaning, as its name implies, involves the use of water. There are four basic steps in the wet cleaning process soaking, washing, rinsing, and drying. Although not necessary, detergents (wetting agents) can be used in the wet cleaning process. However, it is more important to have pressure washers with the proper pressure (500-800 psi) to ensure all the organic materials are removed from the facilities.
The final step of ensuring a proper clean-up is having the wet areas of the building dried quickly. If the building is not dried properly, the excess moisture can result in bacteria multiplying to higher levels than seen before cleaning. Thus, if you are going to clean, make sure the cleaning procedure is done properly, as an improper cleaning can actually do more harm than good! If done properly, a good cleaning can remove 90% of the pathogens.
The last step in a cleaning and disinfection program is the disinfection process. This process involves the use of a disinfectant that will reduce or kill the pathogens. There are several types of disinfectants, and the one chosen should be effective against the disease agent(s) you are targeting. What are the main types of disinfectants that can be used?
The main types of disinfectants that can be used are:
Aldehydes, like formalin and formaldehyde, are considered sterilants, are carcinogenic, and require special precautions. Peroxygens, at the recommended dilution for their use, are caustic and dangerous. Some of the newer formulations of peroxygens and peracetic acid compounds are becoming more utilized because of the European foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in 2001. Some of these compounds are considered non-irritants and are approved for specific uses. It is suggested that one should always follow the recommended usage provided by the manufacturer.
Disinfectants are effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Disinfectants were not designed to be effective against parasites. In general, the descending order of resistance of disease agents is:
Thus, spore-forming bacteria are harder to destroy by disinfectants than viruses. Table 1 illustrates the effectiveness of the different disinfectant groups against the various classes of avian pathogens. Avian parasites (i.e., lice, mites, and endoparasites) are best treated using insecticides or by means of parasiticides. However, it has been reported that ammonia and phenolic disinfectants have been effective in reducing the numbers of coccidial oocysts.
Yes, there are certain conditions that can maximize the effectiveness of the disinfectants you use. As mentioned earlier, the presence of organic material can influence the cleaning and disinfection program. Other factors include temperature, pH, and the use of soaps or detergents. Table 2 illustrates the effect of different factors on disinfectant effectiveness.
The key to a proper cleaning and disinfection program is that both cleaning and disinfection should occur. Cleaning should be done properly by following both dry and wet processing steps. Remember that an improper cleaning actually does more harm than good. In addition, the disinfection program should use the correct disinfectant for the disease agent you want to eliminate from the farm. With these two principles in mind, you can develop your own cleaning and disinfection program and help keep your flocks healthy.
Seymore S. Block. 2001. Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation. 5th Ed. Lippincott, Williams, & Williams, Philadelphia, Pa.
A. D. Russell, V. S. Yarnych, and A. V. Koulikovskii, Eds. 1984. Guidelines on Disinfection in Animal Husbandry for Prevention and Control of Zoonotic Diseases. World Health Organization (Veterinary Public Health Unit), Geneva, Switzerland.
W. Stellmacher. 1966. The Testing of Heavy-Duty Disinfectants Against Bacteria. National Veterinary Medicine Testing Institute, Berlin, pp. 547-575.
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