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Fighting viruses not new to ranchers Reduce your risk


By David Anderson


The coronavirus has impacted enormous numbers of people, but the disease is suspected to have started in animals. While the specific animal source hasn’t been identified, the virus originated at a wet market – where both dead and live animals are sold – in Wuhan, China. Such outdoor markets with insufficient hygiene practices increase the risk of viruses being transmitted from animals to humans. Unsanitary settings also have been the origin of other viruses,


such as Zika and West Nile, that have long been infecting livestock across America – and, like the coronavirus, can be transmitted to humans. David Anderson (www.horsedrinker.com), President and CEO of Bar-Bar-A, a company that produces automatic livestock drinkers, says stagnant water – which collects bacteria and where mosquitoes gather and become virus carriers – is a big source of the problem.


“When you have standing water out in the fields from rain or irrigation, stagnant drinking troughs in the heat, or any places livestock such as horses or cattle drink, it attracts mosquitoes,”


Anderson suggests the following ways to reduce the risks of people, pets and livestock getting viruses such as the West Nile and Zika: • Reduce the amount of standing water. This is where mosquitoes breed, but there are many places they gather besides ponds, puddles, and drinking troughs. “Many homes and yards are sitting ducks for mosquitoes and the disease they carry,” Anderson says. “Dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water- holding containers. Empty standing water from discarded tires. Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if the leaves tend to pile up and plug up the drains. Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Don’t allow water to stagnate in birdbaths or wading pools. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.” • Avoid sharing equipment. “Animals often gather in packs to drink and eat, but to decrease exposure or chances of a virus spreading, avoid letting them share feed tubs and water troughs or buckets in herds,” Anderson says. “This also includes being careful not to share things like pitchforks, halters, and brushes.” • Practice good landscaping. “Very weedy and shallow waterways that receive a good amount of excess runoff from fertilizers or manure can be havens for mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “Prevent such runoff through proper drainage, minimal fertilizer use, and buffer zones between open fields and wetlands. Control the weeds and keep old leaves from piling up.”


COVID-19


As COVID-19 continues to unfold the Board of the AGA would like our members to know that we are committed to providing as much information as possible to reduce any potential impact on producers as well as providing support to members in their regu- lar operations.


While we are not qualified to practice veterinary medicine, we are able to give lay advice for minor questions. More importantly we are here with a friendly ear. We have been trying to contact our members to see if anyone is in need of assistance but if you have not heard from us please call. The AGA office phone, as al- ways, is available at 403-443-2874 at any time.


For current local information contact the public health unit in your community or go to Alberta Health Services online, https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/


For current information on COVID 19 and the Alberta agricultural industry please check out the monthly AGA e-newsletter Goat- Droppings.


26 Goat Rancher | May 2020


Anderson says. “Algae-infested ponds are another. The more mosquitoes, the more risk of contracting a virus. “What we don’t ever want to see in regard to these livestock viruses is the hysteria we’re seeing about the coronavirus because of a general lack of knowledge about it. With Zika and West Nile, we need to educate the public on how horses and other livestock attract the viruses, which people can get, too, and what the preventive measures are that we can take.” “It’s impossible for agriculture to occur without water, and the same is true of mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “Any standing body of water represents the perfect spawning ground for mosquitoes, so you have to know how to reduce them to reduce your animals’ risk – and your risk – of a serious virus.”


(David Anderson is an animal advocate, entrepreneur and


President/CEO of Bar-Bar-A Horse & Livestock Drinkers. A proponent for horse and livestock safe keeping, his company has pushed to eliminate the potential for shock and electrocution of livestock, stemming from the use of water and electricity and the standing water that can contribute to viruses and unhealthy drinking water for animals.)


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