Cash Incentive Needed to Control Endemic Diseases

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Dent

ENDEMIC livestock disease such as a Johne's Disease and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis could be better controlled if farmers have a financial incentive to do so, according to scientists.

The UK research councils' Rural Economy and Land Use programme, based at Newcastle University, said that if sellers had to provide more information about their herds' health to buyers, they would work harder to control diseases.

The group argued that if provision of this data was made mandatory, those whose herds carried disease would receive lower prices for their stock and would therefore have a bigger incentive to control infections.

The team of scientists, all drawn from Warwick University, looked at the links between the political, biological and epidemiological aspects of common livestock diseases.

So-called endemic diseases, such as Johne's Disease, caused by contagious bacteria in the small intestine, and the respiratory disease infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, are regarded as "industry problems", the group said. And as such, there is no real concerted action to tackle them.

The group says there are political, economic and biological reasons that such diseases are allowed to continue infecting animals without being checked.

Prof Graham Medley, who led the research, said: "These diseases have economic and welfare implications, but they persist because there is insufficient incentive to get rid of them. …