FMD: Culling pigs sometimes better than vaccinating

The preventive culling of pigs in case of an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) may sometimes be preferred to vaccination, from an economic perspective, Dutch agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad reports.

This conclusion, drawn up in a study by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), however, does not count for all outbreaks. The institute, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, states that in regions with a relative low livestock density culling may be the best strategy to control an outbreak.

Vaccinating strategy
Should however areas be densely populated, a vaccinating strategy in a 5 km radius around the infection source would be better. In case the livestock density is not extremely high, vaccinating in a radius of 2 km would be sufficient.

The preventive culling of all animals belonging to hobby farmers – a phenomenon often observed in the Netherlands to control diseases – hardly helps to contain an outbreak.

FMD outbreak
From an economic point of view, it is an option not to vaccinate preventively as this strategy would be considerably cheaper. The researchers note, however, that it is wise not to consider the latest FMD outbreak as leading as this particular strain was rather aggressive.

In case of an outbreak, the industries suffering most are the dairy industry, the beef industry and the pig industry. Vaccination may restrict costs for fighting the outbreak, but may also end up causing a problem selling the meat subsequently. Researchers hence advise that any strategy needs proper explanation to any trade partner.

Related websites:
Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI)
Wageningen University & Research Centre (WUR)
Agrarisch Dagblad (in Dutch)

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