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Manure, and the people who wear it

Agriculture.com Staff 07/24/2006 @ 3:16pm

Manure, and the people who wear it

An Interview With "Joe"

Yeah, I work in the animal facility here at XXXXXX (1). Down in the basement.

Manure? It's my middle name. Heh heh. Seriously, it's just part of the routine. I was raised on a farm in Kansas , so what's the big deal? At least here I get to take a shower after I powerwash a pen where ten, fifteen FMD calves have been living for two weeks (2). And you know how pretty that is. Back home? Hah. Meet my dad sometime. He takes out his teeth when he turns on the Hotsy (3). Just a second ... excuse me. (He coughs and blows his nose.) Sorry. Got a little down the wrong pipes today (4).

Plus it's air-conditioned down here. Feel that nice breeze? I do the pens in the East Wing. We get more hogs than cattle; I don't know why. I think maybe our airlocks work better (5). I know our floor drains do.

And I know you're going to ask: Yeah, I put something on when I go from the shower-out to the next pen. At least I do. Not like the old days. So I hear (6). I go through a lot of Tyvek -- four, five suits a day. My busiest day? Ten showers, ten new Tyveks.

I go upstairs for lunch every day. "Inside," of course (7). I get enough showers down here, I'm not gonna shower again so I can go sit outside at a picnic table and look at freakin' Connecticut (8). We've got our own table in the lunchroom, me and the guys. You know how it is.

Hey, I gotta go, okay? I'm going hunting this weekend (9).

Copyright 2006 Kate Iola (10) (11)


(1) Plum Island Animal Disease Center is the only place in the United States where it is legal to work with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus. Reason: The FMD virus does not affect humans, but it is extremely contagious, and the economic consequences of an outbreak in US livestock would be extreme.

(2) At the end of each experiment, the animal pens are thoroughly powerwashed and sanitized. Infected livestock produce large amounts of live, infectious FMD virus in their manure, urine, saliva, breath, and milk.

(3) Hotsy: Popular powerwashing equipment.

(4) Humans that have been breathing the exhalations of infected livestock can carry live virus in their own lungs, and exhale it, for several days. The USDA currently recommends that people exposed to FMD-infected animals (for example: visitors to Plum Island, or to the 30+ countries that currently have FMD outbreaks, such as Brazil) go into voluntary quarantine for 4-5 days before going near livestock.

(5) Hogs infected with FMD are far more contagious than cattle with FMD, breathing out enough air-borne virus in one day to infect thousands of other cattle or hogs. Airborne virus has been documented to travel over 30 miles by wind (more if the wind is humid) to spread outbreaks.

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