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More international support for vaccination

16 December 2004 - An international conference on animal disease control held in Brussels concluded today that there is growing international support for vaccinating animals during outbreaks of infectious animal disease. The conference conclusions were presented to Director-General Bergkamp of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and Deputy Director-General Husu-Kallio of the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate.

The conference also concluded that the products of vaccinated animals should not be labelled to distinguish them from other products; that livestock farmers and other stakeholders share responsibility for disease prevention and dealing with problems in marketing the products of vaccinated animals; and that new financing schemes, such as insurance and contingency funds should be stimulated at the European level.

Minister Veerman, who opened the conference on Wednesday, is satisfied with the conference conclusions which will be discussed by the European agriculture ministers at the December Agriculture Council.

At the close of the conference, the Commission announced the launch of a Technology Platform for Global Animal Health. The platform is an industry-driven partnership covering the whole chain, from research and innovation to delivery of new vaccines and tests.


The Material and Immaterial Costs of Animal Disease Control

Brussels, 15 & 16 December 2004



              1. The measures taken to control outbreaks of major epidemic animal diseases should take into account epidemiological as w ell as economic and social factors.

                 2. Socially accepted control of major epidemic animal diseases needs a strong involvement of external stakeholders in the policy process.

                 3. Increased aw areness and good surveillance are fundamental to ensure early detection and rapid control of disease.

                 4. In view of the enormous consequences of major epidemic animal disease outbreaks, the Community as well as individual Member States should provide more support to the control of these diseases outside the EU.

                 5. Import controls, concerning illegal introduction in the EU of live animals or animal products by travellers, should get renewed attention.

              6. All keepers of animals and related stakeholders (transport, trade) should be stimulated to take their responsibility as regards the prevention and control of the spread of major epidemic animal diseases.

                7. One of the starting points of control strategies for major epidemic animal diseases should be to limit, to the extent possible, the killing and destruction of healthy animals.

                  8. Vaccination should be accepted as one of the regular options for the control of animal disease outbreaks.

                 9. In case of vaccination adequate surveillance should be implemented to ensure that possible circulation of the disease agent is rapidly detected.

            10. All stakeholders involved should take their responsibility in solving the problems related to the trade of products of vaccinated animals.

            11. The aim should be that products from vaccinated animals are not discriminated by distinctive labelling or marking.

              12. Differentiated disease control measures may be appropriate for animals not kept for commercial p urposes and other special categories.

             13. Industry and authorities should work together for the development and the licensing of new vaccines and diagnostic tests designed for specific (strategic) purposes.

            14. Producers should bear more responsibility for the financial aspects of the control of epidemic animal diseases.

             15. Differences between Member States in their approach towards the financing of animal disease costs and losses should not lead to distortion of competition.

           16. The EU should stimulate the establishment of insurance schemes, private or public/private funds to face animal disease financial risks, while continuing to ensure financial support for the implementation of Community measures for disease control.




Prevention and control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever and Avian Influenza in the European Union: An integrated analysis of epidemiological,

economic, and social-ethical aspects

Ruud Huirne, Marcel van Asseldonk, Mart de Jong, Koos de Vlieger,  Monique Mourits, Thomas Hagenaars, Elsbeth Noordhuizen-Stassen

Consortium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Wageningen University and Research Centre, and Utrecht University


Executive summary

1. Introduction

The recent outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), Classical Swine Fever (CSF), and highly pathogenetic Avian Influenza (AI) in the European Union (EU) have shown that such contagious animal diseases can have a devastating impact in terms of animal welfare, economics and societal outcry and disturbance. Insights into the three interrelated, aspects of epidemiology, economics, and social-ethics are crucial in order to better prevent and control contagious diseases in the future. Because of the sometimes conflicting aspects a broad spectrum of stakeholders received a prominent position in the national public debate during and after the recent outbreaks. In order to quantify the impact of alternative views by alternative stakeholders science-based models are a prerequisite. The main goal of the project is therefore to conduct an integrated analysis of epidemiological, economic and social-ethical aspects of (potential) control strategies. 

First the results of a survey are presented which focused on prioritising epidemiological, economic and social-ethical aspects. Subsequently, an integrated analysis is described in order to obtain insight into the impact of the above mentioned differences between stakeholders. A detailed analysis is presented for six EU member states and three contagious diseases (FMD, CSF and AI).


2. A stakeholders survey

Different stakeholders are likely to have different ideas about the strategy to be chosen based on their views and their mission, which is to represent the interests of for example the farming community, the commercially involved secondary industry, the animals, or the consumer of food or recreation. This may create a situation of conflicting interests between stakeholders. Economic motives may prevail in the views of some, animal or human welfare motives may be prominent in the views of others. By means of a survey the relative importance of conflicting criteria and indicators per criterion were elicited. In total 81 stakeholders responded, of which 20 Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) and 61 other stakeholders.

For the stakeholders sample as a whole the epidemiological criterion was the most important one. CVOs weighed the epidemiological criterion with a relative importance of 53%. Corresponding average weights for the economic and social-ethical criteria were 30% and 17% respectively. The social-ethical criterion was more important for the non-agricultural stakeholders (35%) then for the agricultural stakeholders (18%). The economic criterion was considered as less

An integrated analysis of epidemiological, economic, and social-ethical aspects

important by the non-agricultural stakeholders (15%) compared to agricultural stakeholders (33%). The two clusters comprising the value judgements of CVOs and veterinarians were almost alike.

Only CVOs weighed epidemiological and economic indicators. Duration of the epidemic (28%) and the size of the affected region (25%) were regarded as the two most important epidemiological indicators. Direct farm losses (15%) and consequential farm losses in the affected region (14%) were regarded as the two most important economic indicators.

The relative weights for the social-ethical indicators differed between the clusters of stakeholders. In general, non-agricultural stakeholders weighed the indicators animal health and animal welfare as more important than agricultural stakeholders and CVOs.


3. Member state studies: epidemiological analysis

Depending on the density of herds in an area and the disease under consideration the outcome of an outbreak while applying different intervention strategies can be estimated. Density of herds has been shown to be the important characteristic explaining differences in spread during the disease-combat period (i.e. under conditions of movement regulation and increased biosecurity) Only effective strategies and the consequences of applying different effective strategies are reported, while consequences of non-effective strategies are disregarded. The results of epidemiological scenario analyses were categorized as follows. The outcome fell into one of only three categories: 

1.Relatively swift control of the outbreak: occurrence of relatively short and small epidemics only. 

2.Elaborate control of the outbreak: epidemics may last for several months during which a large number of herds are culled or vaccinated. 3.Failure to control the outbreak: a high probability that the outbreak spreads throughout

most of the region included in the calculation. Areas that fell into in the last two categories were defined as Densely Populated Livestock Areas (DPLA). In DPLA the basic intervention measures required by EU regulations are not sufficient.

Our results indicate that, for most EU member states, control of FMD outbreaks with basic EU measures is not possible. Most or even all EU member states have (large) high-risk areas (DPLA) for spread of FMD. In contrast our results indicate that in several of the six member states analysed, CSF and AI epidemics can be controlled by employing the minimum EU requirements for intervention. However the available data might underestimate the amount of farm clustering at a local level. Note that DPLAs also exist for CSF and AI susceptible animals, as was also experienced from past outbreaks. These areas are only less extensive in most member states than the DPLA for FMD susceptible animals. 


4. Member state studies: economic analysis

Net exporting member states of the relevant products (like milk, beef, pork and mutton) are more affected by export bans then net importing member states. Therefore net exporters as well as net importers were represented in the member state studies. In each member state a certain area of interest is chosen. The reason for this is to reduce the need for data of farm structure and to have regions in which the relevant animals are in an adequate numbers present. However, the size of the regions, expressed in percentage of the total number of animals present in the member state

An integrated analysis of epidemiological, economic, and social-ethical aspects

varied. The percentage ranged from 0,033% to 30%, but was in most cases between 2% and 5%. This implies that the results of the economic analysis are not comparable between regions, only the results of different control strategies within a region are comparable. 

Animal productivity, costs of production and gross margin were calculated on basis of data comprising zootechnical aspects (e.g. production per animal), financial aspects (e.g. prices and costs) and the farm structure in the selected regions. Subsequently, direct farm losses, operational costs of control measures and indirect costs of farmers were estimated by combining the economic components with the output of the epidemiological model. Net income effects of an outbreak on the rest of the economy were calculated with the Global Trade Analyse Project (GTAP) model. The input for this model is the change in production, and if relevant export impacts, due to the outbreak.

The economic analysis showed that the optimal control strategy chosen was affected by the region and disease under study. Furthermore, the relative importance of the direct farm costs, indirect farms costs, organizational costs and income effects in agribusiness and recreation differed per control strategy. In a number of cases the impact of price effects, induced by a change in supply, exceeded the impact of a change in quantity. Income gains were realised in the agricultural sector in the non-affected regions and in other sectors of the economy.   


5. Member state studies: multi criteria analysis

Decision making in controlling contagious animal diseases is a complex, conflicting process, characterized by a mixture of epidemiological, economic and social-ethical value judgements. An integral evaluation framework is developed to illustrate the potential support of evaluation techniques such as the Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA) in choosing the control strategy that best meets all conflicting judgements.

MCA establishes preferences between alternatives to an explicit set of objectives and measurable criteria to assess the extent to which the objectives have been achieved. A key feature of the analysis is its emphasis on the judgement of the stakeholders involved. The performed MCA deals with the control decision problem by breaking the problem into more manageable pieces (i.e. epidemiological, economic and social-ethical objectives) to allow data and judgements to be brought to bear on the pieces. Then the technique reassembles the pieces to present a coherent overall picture.

The presented MCA is based on the average judgement values of the CVOs, as elicited by the survey. Results show a general tendency towards the ranking of control alternatives, which in most of the cases appears to be independent of the evaluated disease. In the Moderate Populated Livestock Areas (MPLA), the basic EU control strategy and the protective vaccination (EUdef+Vac_live) strategy are generally appreciated over the other control strategies. In the DPLA situations, preference is mostly given to the pre-emptive slaughter (EUdef+Pre) strategy, followed by the protective vaccination (EUdef+Vac_live) strategy as second best option.

Individual CVOs - or in general individual interest groups often differ in their views of the relative importance of the criteria. Using the MCA framework to examine how ranking of alternatives might change under different preferences or weighting systems can show that, for instance, two alternatives always come out best. Their order, however, may shift. If the differences between these best alternatives under different weighting systems are rather small, accepting a second best option can be shown to be associated with little loss of overall benefit.

An integrated analysis of epidemiological, economic, and social-ethical aspects