SALEM, Ohio – The Ohio Department of AgricultureOhio Department of Agriculture is responsible for diagnosing animal diseases but it’s also responsible for disposing of the infected carcasses.
In an effort to step up safety, the department recently installed a new carcass disposal system in the Animal Disease Diagnostic LaboratoryAnimal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
This new technology is so effective that it can destroy any bacteria or virus, according to Beverly Byrum, the lab’s director. This includes the difficult-to-kill prions in mad cow disease, she said.
These infectious agents can survive more traditional disposal methods, such as incineration, but the new process inactivates them, Byrum said.
She said the state-of-the-art alkaline hydrolysis unit is the first of its kind in Ohio. It uses heat, pressure and alkali to destroy pathogenic organisms.
Cause of death. The agricultural department’s lab disposes of 300,000 pounds of animal carcasses each year, Byrum said.
Veterinarians and producers send their diseased animals to the lab to determine a cause of death. Once that has been done, the carcasses must be disposed of in a way that doesn’t allow those pathogens to contaminate other animals.
Previously, Byrum said the carcasses were either picked up by a rendering company or by commercial medical waste providers who trucked the remains to out-of-state incinerators.
Not only is the disposal method itself safer, but it is also safer than trucking infectious carcasses across state lines, Byrum said.
It’s also much cheaper, she added.
In addition, the new unit allows the lab to dispose of 7,000 pounds of carcasses in an eight-hour period.
Should avian influenza, hoof and mouth, or any other highly contagious disease break out in Ohio, the unit would allow for large-quantity disposal, she said.
Waste Reduction. The new technology is manufactured by Waste Reduction Inc.
It also neutralizes toxic-fixing agents, cytotoxic agents and eliminates tissues contaminated by radioactivity, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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