Effect of Animal Disease on the Economy

Effect of Animal Disease on the Economy

Taylor et al. (2001) documented that 61% of all human pathogens are zoonotic. And of the 175 newly emerging pathogens in humans, 75% are listed as zoonotic … However, it is also important to remember that some diseases affect animals only, often with economic, environmental and/or societal implications.” – Bender et al., Recent Animal Disease Outbreaks and their Impact on Human Populations. 2006: 133

Animal diseases have both direct and indirect medical and economic effects.

Animal disease outbreaks pose significant threats to livestock sectors throughout the world, both from the standpoint of the economic impacts of the disease itself and the measures taken to mitigate the risk of disease introduction

This diseases have a much broader effects on markets, poverty, and livelihoods, given the diversity of uses of livestock and complexity of livestock value chains.

This was demonstrated during the avian flu epidemic of 2003-2004. Most affected during the outbreak was Vietnam, where 44 million birds were destroyed.

The country suffered a loss of US$120 million, with small facilities losing 50 times their daily income, according to the World Bank.

In addition to economic considerations, many animal diseases can have negative direct and indirect medical outcomes for humans.

Zoonotic animal diseases can directly infect humans.

The loss of human life can be catastrophic, as in the case of the “black” plague and the “Spanish” influenza. Animal diseases can also cause negative indirect medical effects in terms of nutrition.

From an economic perspective, the illness and loss of life from zoonotic diseases decreases productivity and hurts a country’s economy.

Animal diseases that affect the economy, standard of living and livestock are called trans-boundary animal disease.

What is a trans-boundary animal disease? Trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) are defined as animal diseases “of significant economic, trade and/or food security importance for a considerable number of countries; which can easily spread to other countries and reach epidemic proportions; and where control/management, including exclusion, requires cooperation between several countries” [FAO, 1997]

Trans-boundary animal diseases result in several kinds of economic impact. They cause livestock production losses, which may be very high if the disease in question spreads very rapidly.

They can also result in considerable disruption to trade, causing particular concern in countries where export is an important source of revenue for the livestock sector.

The economic impact of a TAD can be assessed at different levels and from the perspectives of different stakeholders. For example:

  1. For the government or a regional coalition, it may represent a threat to national income, a potential drain on budget, and an impediment to international trade.
  2. For livestock producers, traders, and the processors and retailers of livestock products, the presence of a TAD may represent a threat to livelihood, a need to invest in prevention measures, and a source of friction with state veterinary services.
  3. Animal health providers and the suppliers of vaccines and drugs may see a TAD as a source of revenue from drug and vaccine sales.
  4. Consumers may perceive a TAD as a threat to health (if the disease is zoonotic), and may be disadvantaged if a severe disease outbreak affects food prices or disrupts the food supply

Impacts beyond the livestock sector

Human health

 Trans-boundary animal diseases can have direct and indirect impacts on human health. Direct impacts occur when humans are infected by zoonotic trans-boundary animal diseases and become ill.

The costs of human clinical illness are visible, measurable and have been estimated in a number of published reports.

Indirect effects can occur if the presence of trans-boundary animal diseases severely disrupts the food supply or the ability of families to access food.

Zoonotic trans-boundary animal diseases can have economic impacts if they cause mortality in people, or through illness prevent them from doing the things that they would normally do, or oblige them to require medical treatment.

Tourism, wildlife and biodiversity

The presence of a zoonotic trans-boundary animal diseases may have impacts on tourism, if tourists are discouraged from visiting an infected area or restricted access to a country, this can results to a loss of revenue for the tourist industry.

In the event that a zoonotic disease in livestock resulted in an epidemic of human disease, this could cause very widespread disruption of businesses and the operation of public sector services

Food security

In the event that a zoonotic trans-boundary diseases spreads, there would be a shortage in food supply which can eventually lead to an increase in the prices of food.

Impact of Trans-boundary Animal Disease on Livestock

  1. When livestock are affected by a TAD, clinical or sub-clinical disease may result in the loss of animals or may reduce their productivity.
  2. Market disruption – is a component of the economic impact of TADs. It takes two forms, each with economic consequences, namely market shocks and export market restrictions. Market shocks If consumers fear that animal products or exposure in markets will make them ill, this can lead to a sharp fall in consumption of certain livestock products when an outbreak of a TAD is announced.
  3. Trade restrictions in export markets. E.g The animal trade market in Wuhan China was locked down after the Coronavirus broke out.
  4. It distorts the development of the livestock sector, both globally and within countries. For countries that need or strongly wish to export, investments will be needed in facilities and infrastructure, to either process products so that they are deemed to be of negligible risk

If you made it to the end of this article, don’t forget to check out our other post on “livestock roles in the well being of rural communities here.

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