By Vanessa Meadu
When it comes to tackling animal diseases, it’s surprisingly difficult to know where to prioritise action and what policies work best. Professor Jonathan Rushton tells us about building a new global approach to address the diseases that have the most profound impacts.
Why look at the Global Burden of Animal Diseases?
At the moment, animal diseases are prioritised based on mortality (number of animals that die) and morbidity (the prevalence of disease in an animal population), yet the evidence base for this approach is limited. There is also a tendency to focus on diseases that cause trade restrictions. This approach will always focus on the diseases that appear to cause big impacts – ones that kill animals quickly or create immediate trade barriers, and potentially we end up chasing the sparks from the fire. An example of this is foot and mouth disease (FMD), which I started working on in the mid-1990s in Bolivia. After some time, I realised that a lot of our estimates on foot and mouth are based on anecdotes rather than real data. Defining FMD as the most economically important disease in the world is not evidence based. Read more