Publications IFAH white paper underlines the economic and social costs of animal diseases

IFAH white paper underlines the economic and social costs of animal diseases


Call for integrated health surveillance and disease control measures

Brussels/London, 5 October 2012 – Today 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.

IFAH commissioned global analysis and advisory firm Oxford Analytica, who were supported by a group of independent experts in animal health, to compare international social and economic impacts of three well-documented animal health diseases – 1) an animal-only disease, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD); 2) a disease in animals and people transmitted through food, salmonella; and 3) a zoonosis, or disease that can be transferred between animals and humans, rabies.

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.

Barbara Freischem, Executive Director of the International Federation for Animal Health said: “The causes of disease do not stop at national borders and many different societies are confronted with comparable threats. Animal disease costs change as societies evolve, so it is important to monitor these changes to ensure that we are in a position to respond to outbreaks in a timely and proportionate manner.

With a rapidly expanding global population, and with nine billion people expected by the year 2050, there is an urgent need to produce and distribute an ever-expanding global supply of nutritious foods and, meet the rising global need for high-quality animal protein. A wholesome, sustainable food supply begins with healthy animals. And in terms of zoonoses, the direct connection between healthy animals and healthy people is abundantly clear.

IFAH commissioned this white paper as a launch point for wider collaborative discussions with international stakeholders on what future efforts would be required to establish effective disease control and preventative activities based on their technical merits, but also to consider their socio-economic impact on the systems on which they are being imposed.

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.”

The full report is available for download here.

Notes for editors
The International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) is an organisation representing manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in both developed and developing countries across five continents. The mission of IFAH is to foster a greater understanding of animal health matters and promote a predictable, science-based regulatory environment that facilitates the supply of innovative and quality animal medicines, vaccines and other animal health products into a competitive market place. These products contribute to a healthy and safe food supply as well as a high standard of health and welfare for animals and people.

For further information on IFAH, please visit

Oxford Analytica
Oxford Analytica is a global analysis and advisory firm that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance. Our insights and judgements on global macro issues enable our clients to succeed in complex markets where the nexus of politics and economics, state and business is critical.

For further information on Oxford Analytica, please visit