It is important for food animal veterinarians to understand the interaction among animals, pathogens, and the environment, in order to implement herd-specific biosecurity plans. Animal factors such as the number of immunologically protected individuals influence the number of individuals that a potential pathogen is able to infect, as well as the speed of spread through a population. Pathogens differ in their virulence and contagiousness. In addition, pathogens have various methods of transmission that impact how they interact with a host population. A cattle population's environment includes its housing type, animal density, air quality, and exposure to mud or dust and other health antagonists such as parasites and stress; these environmental factors influence the innate immunity of a herd by their impact on immunosuppression. In addition, a herd's environment also dictates the "animal flow" or contact and mixing patterns of potentially infectious and susceptible animals. Biosecurity is the attempt to keep infectious agents away from a herd, state, or country, and to control the spread of infectious agents within a herd. Infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, or parasites) alone are seldom able to cause disease in cattle without contributing factors from other infectious agents and/or the cattle's environment. Therefore to develop biosecurity plans for infectious disease in cattle, veterinarians must consider the pathogen, as well as environmental and animal factors. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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