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Weekly Overview: Disease Control in Farm Animals is Cheaper Than a Pandemic

08 December 2014

GLOBAL - Among the lessons to be learned from the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 in Asia and Europe, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is recommending a strengthening of animal disease surveillance worldwide. Russia has applied trade sanctions on Belarus, blaming the country for poor control of African swine fever, while the Canadians attribute their success against porcine epidemic diarrhoea so far to high farm biosecurity and pig movement tracking.

The Organisation warns of the need to strengthen surveillance and early detection systems for diseases of domestic and wild animals throughout the world and recommends making this a major objective of official health policies.

In this context, the OIE has issued a reminder that poor management of disease control at source in animals, irrespective of whether diseases are potentially transmissible to humans, can have consequences that are often severe for the local population and economy, and even at a regional and global level.

Speaking from experience, Director General of the Organisation, Dr Bernard Vallat, said last week: “The crises of the last 20 years, such as those related to avian influenza H5N1 and H7N9, foot and mouth disease and 'mad cow disease', and now Ebola, show us that while it is true that the policies of combating diseases at their animal source are an expense for the budgets of individual states or the international community, the amount is derisory compared to the costs involved in dealing with a panzootic or a pandemic.”

Biosecurity measures, including against African swine fever, in Belarus have been strongly criticised after a meeting between the chiefs of the veterinary authorities of Russia and Belarus.

In the meeting, head of the the veterinary authority in Russia, Rosselkhoznador, Sergey Dankvert said that over the last three years, Belarus had not been properly supervising and regulating the import and export of meat and food products. This has led to the need for economic retaliation, he said.

In Sweden, the goal for this year's winter hunt is to cut the wild boar population by at least half in order to help control African swine fever.

On control of porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED), the executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians is encouraging pork producers to be aware of the heightened risk of the spread of the disease as the weather turns colder.

The manager of PigTrace Canada says the mandatory reporting of pig movements in the country is already demonstrating its value in terms of tracking the movement of disease.

Meanwhile, efforts to contain PED in Canada are also reducing the threat posed by other infections, according to the executive director of the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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