Predicting the costs of a swine fever outbreak in the UK

The government has predicted that African swine fever could cost the UK pig industry £85 million but the NPA believes this figure could be even higher.

20 July 2019, at 9:30am

In a report published by the NPA, it has been detailed by Parliamentary Under-Secretary at Defra, David Rutley, that in a "reasonable worst-case scenario", an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) could cost the UK pig industry up to £85 million at 2019 prices. The total estimate includes the lost value of animals from culling, movement and trade restrictions (or bans), plus the cost of disease control and implementing strict biosecurity.

The NPA says that while this estimate is based on a well informed assessment of the possible impacts of an outbreak, the factors influencing the total costs are broad and many. Geographic location, the type of system, epidemiology of the outbreak and the potential impact on native wildlife - namely wild boar - would be highly influential factors in this scenario.

Ed Barker, NPA senior policy advisor, believes that the real cost could be much higher, "especially when the loss of exports, worth nearly £500 million in 2018, is taken into account".

According to Mr Rutley, the focus is now on efficient communication with passengers travelling through ports and airports when returning from the EU and Asia, and other affected regions.

“Messaging has targeted key audiences including transport operators, tourists to specific regions, and other people returning from affected regions. Additionally, we have been speaking to both professional and backyard pig keepers about the dangers and risk of ASF, to encourage best practice and ensure disease prevention,” Mr Rutley said in an interview with the NPA.

Read the full article here.