A review of the animal disease outbreaks and biosecure animal mortality composting systems

Tiago Costa, Neslihan Akdeniz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the development of new vaccines and the application of rigorous biosecurity measures, animal diseases pose a continuing threat to animal health, food safety, national economy, and the environment. Intense livestock production, increased travel, and changing climate have increased the risk of catastrophic animal losses due to infectious diseases. In the event of an outbreak, it is essential to properly manage the infected animals to prevent the spread of diseases. The most common disposal methods used during a disease outbreak include burial, landfilling, incineration and composting. Biosecurity, transportation logistics, public perception, and environmental concerns limit the use of some of these methods. During a disease outbreak, the large number of mortalities often exceeds the capacity of local rendering plants and landfills. Transporting mortalities to disposal and incineration facilities outside the production operation introduces biosecurity risks. Burying mortalities is limited by the size and availability of suitable sites and it has the risk of pathogen survival and contamination of groundwater and soil. Portable incinerators are expensive and have the potential to aerosolize infectious particles. Composting, on the other hand, has been recognized as a biosecure disposal method. Research showed that it eliminates bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157: H7, Salmonella spp., as well as viruses including highly pathogenic avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, Newcastle disease, and porcine epidemic diarrhea. This paper summarizes the lessons learned during the major animal disease outbreaks including the 2010 foot-and-mouth disease, 2016 highly pathogenic avian influenza, and recent African swine fever outbreaks. The purpose of this review is to critically discuss the biosecurity of composting as a mortality disposal method during the outbreaks of infectious animal diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Biosecure
  • Composting
  • Disease
  • Livestock
  • Mortality
  • Outbreak

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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