White paper warns about vector-borne disease threat

By Georgi Gyton contact

- Last updated on GMT

A range of VBDs can be transmitted via mosquitos
A range of VBDs can be transmitted via mosquitos

Related tags: Infectious disease

The impact of vector-borne disease costs the global livestock sector billions every year, and is an increasing threat, according to the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH).

It has just published a white paper highlighting the growing threat of these diseases (VBDs), which currently account for 17% of the global burden of all infectious diseases.

According to IFAH, trypanosomiasis, for example, accounts for losses in cattle production of up to $1.2bn a year.

The most commons VBDs affecting livestock include: bluetongue and Schmallenberg – both transmitted by the Culicoides midge; Surra (protozoa) – transmitted via biting flies; West and Eastern equine encephalomyelitis – transmitted by mosquitos; Anaplasmosis (Rickettsiae) – transmitted by ticks; and African swine fever – also transmitted through ticks.

One of the main challenges in combating VBDs is that the situation is complex and ever-changing. It is affected by many factors including the impact of climate change, habitat change, and the increasing issue of insecticide resistance.

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director at IFAH, said: "Vector-borne diseases are a topic of international significance that need to be debated head-on."

She stressed that the animal health industry needed to work on developing tools to control neglected VBDs.

"The white paper includes a number of case studies from across the world and suggests proactive strategies for tackling them on a local, regional and global level,"​ she added.

According to the report, management of VBDs must be based on realistic, achievable objectives, "and in general, the eradication of vectors or pathogens from a system is not one of these".​ Rather than a focus on eradication, funding should be targeted at ongoing management of the issue.

The IFAH’s white paper – The growing threat of vector-borne disease in humans and animals​ – was independently authored by Oxford Analytica. It was discussed at a recent roundtable in Geneva, Switzerland, with the specific objective of formulating strategies and partnerships across a variety of organisations.

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