The International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) launched a white paper on the social and economic impacts of animal health diseases globally. The report concludes that animal diseases have economic impacts much beyond the direct costs caused by disease itself. In order to achieve progress in the control of animal diseases and in the reduction of these socio-economic impacts, further investments and continued efforts are needed in capacity building, infrastructure development, governance of food safety, good veterinary legislation including appropriate regulation of animal health products, and consistent application of guidelines relevant to animal health and trade.
Human health and animal health are inextricably linked; livestock and companion animals are vital for human health and well-being. More than 61% of animal diseases are zoonotic, which means they have the potential to cause human pandemics; with 75% of emerging infections amongst humans believed to have originated in animals.
Although there are difficulties in estimating the costs of animal disease globally due to variances in livestock production prices and productivity, and regional differences in resources used for disease monitoring and control, meaningful insights were gained by focusing on recent outbreaks in various regions. The economic burden for zoonotic diseases is mainly due to direct and indirect cost related to medical treatment and/or due to mortality.
The report drew together a range of published findings, including:
- Salmonella costs the United States as much as $3 billion annually, where there has been no discernible drop in the incidence of salmonella in humans over the last 15 years.
- The economic burden of rabies in humans is mainly due to mortality, commonly expressed as Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), and direct and indirect costs related to medical treatment. Approximately 80 people die from H5N1 influenza each year, with rabies killing 55,000 people annually. Up to 99% of human rabies cases occur in developing countries.
- One million cattle die of rabies in Central and South America each year.
- Tourism was the worst affected sector in the UK following the 2001 FMD outbreak. One study estimates that the loss of tourism revenue alone in 2001 was as high as £179 million per week or £7.7 billion over the year as a whole.
- An FMD outbreak in California could cost as much as $69 billion.
The report highlights that improved data collection, surveillance and infrastructure are key requirements for effective and proportionate disease control measures. A better understanding of the institutional frameworks and responses to regulation needs to be integrated in control programmes, and a better co-ordinated effort among the various international bodies, health organisations and governments is essential.”
Friday October 5, 2012/ IFAH.