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Socio-economics

The effects of CBPP include variable mortality and morbidity that results in reduced production, low fertility, loss of capacity to work and trade bans. The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code provides standards for trade in live animals, semen and embryos but specifies that trade in milk and milk products, hides and skins, and meat and meat products other than lung should be free of any restrictions. This international recommendation may, however, be overridden by more stringent national standards. For example, the 1995 outbreak of CBPP in Botswana resulted in loss of access to the EU market, although the product involved was deboned beef. To regain access as soon as possible Botswana resorted to mass culling with compensation to the owners. More than 300,000 cattle were destroyed in the affected area, on the southern boundary of which additional veterinary cordon fences were erected, also with high costs. The massive cull and movement control resulted in eradication of the outbreak, but socio-economic assessments indicated that the effects on the human population were negative and included malnutrition in children who were under the age of five years at the time owing to a total lack of cow’s milk. Apart from its negative effects, such an approach would be financially impossible for most African countries.

The economic burden of CBPP is generally difficult to compute, but a recent study in 12 countries in West, Central and East Africa that reported a total of 2,612 outbreaks to OIE during the period 1996 to 2002, accounting for 96% of the reports of CBPP for that period, suggested an amount of 44.8 million euros in direct losses and control costs. Based on an approach using mass vaccination for five years to attain 80% coverage and including an estimated cost of treating about the same percentage of animals, the cost-benefit ratios of controlling CBPP were favourable for the countries studied. Various studies have indicated that CBPP is regarded as an important disease in the region and most cattle owners were prepared to treat sick cattle at their own expense although willingness to pay for vaccination, which has traditionally been provided by the governments, was more variable. Since rational and prudent use of antimicrobials would involve treating the whole herd and not just sick animals, owners might require some financial assistance to assure effective treatment, at least until control of CBPP had provided tangible economic benefits.