Biosecurity assessment of commercial chicken farms for highly pathogenic avian influenza infection in Wakiso District, Central Uganda
Bayo, Maliyamungu Richard
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This study assessed the biosecurity level of commercial chicken farms for highly pathogenic avian influenza infection in Uganda with a case study of Wakiso district in the central region of Uganda. A cross-sectional study method that involved both qualitative and quantitative survey approaches was used. A total of 110 commercial chicken farms were sampled using non-probability, purposeful, and snowball sampling techniques. The biosecurity scoring system developed and used consisted of two categories: internal and external biosecurity, each with four sub-categories. The minimum score of "0" represented the total absence of any biosecurity measure on the commercial chicken farm, whereas the maximum score of "100" meant full application of all investigated biosecurity measures. All statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 22 (IBM). The overall mean biosecurity score of the commercial chicken farms was 61.9. The commercial chicken farms scored better for internal biosecurity (mean score of 66.9) than external biosecurity (mean score of 55.7). There was variation in the mean biosecurity score for the different commercial chicken farms, ranging from 37 to 90 for internal biosecurity and 26–79 for external biosecurity. Within the category of external biosecurity, the sub-category "other livestock and animals" had the highest mean score (74.9), while the sub-category with the lowest mean score was related to biosecurity procedures for "Traffic on and off farm" (43.6). Within the category of internal biosecurity, the subcategory "House cleaning and disinfection" had the highest mean score (75.7). The mean overall biosecurity scores for commercial chicken farms varied further due to differences in bird populations between farms. The farms with 50-200 (n = 1796, mean score 31.7), 201–500 (n = 12175, mean score 50), 501–1000 (n = 35561, mean score 60), 1001–2000 (n = 34503, mean score 81), and >2001 (n = 3521, mean score 84.5). The poultry management system, the experience of the farmers, and the education level of the farm owners and managers had a significant influence on the biosecurity levels of the commercial chicken farms. The most significant risk factors observed in commercial chicken farms that could lead to HPAI infection were related to husbandry practices such as not vaccinating the chickens against HPAI, allowing poultry dealers free entry into the farm, allowing egg crates into farms without disinfection, and trading crates. It was therefore recommended that MAAIF strengthen farmer information through poultry biosecurity trainings, enforce chicken farm inspections to encourage farmers to practice best biosecurity practices, and build the capacity of poultry farmers to encourage them to develop biosecurity plans, which will ensure that all three separate but often blended sets of actions and overlapping components of biosecurity, namely bio-exclusion, bio-containment, and bio-management, are practiced to elicit biosecurity.