Europe Funds Animal Disease Programs

The European Commission (EC) has earmarked 275 million Euros (€) to support programs to eradicate, control, and monitor animal diseases in 2010, up from €186.5 million last funded for 2008. The 224 annual or multi-annual programs that were selected for European Union (EU) funding will tackle animal diseases that impact both human and animal health. The large EU contribution reflects the high level of importance attached to disease eradication measures, for the protection of both animal and public health.

“The motto of our animal health strategy is ‘prevention is better than cure,’” said EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. “If the spread of certain animal diseases is not prevented, it can affect both animal and public health. That is why we are prioritizing programs covering diseases that might be transmitted to humans.”

Each year the commission approves programs for the eradication and monitoring of animal diseases and transmissible spongiform encepha-lopathies (TSEs), for the control of zoonoses such as Salmonella, and for avian influenza surveillance. These approved programs receive financial contributions from the EU.

Animal Disease Eradication Programs
For 2010, 76 annual or multi-annual programs to eradicate 10 animal diseases have been granted a total EU contribution of around €174 million. The increased budget is due to allocations to counter bluetongue disease in many member states and the approval for the first time of a bovine tuberculosis eradication program for the United Kingdom, with the EU providing €12 million for Ireland, €10 million for the United Kingdom, and €7.5 million for Spain.

Diseases that might be transmitted to humans are prioritized with significant sums being spent on the eradication of brucellosis, tuberculosis, and rabies. Following the success of the programs in recent years that have virtually eradicated rabies in the western part of the EU, most of the activity in 2010 will be focused toward the member states on the eastern border of the EU, with almost €12 million allocated to this task. The programs aim at producing immunity in wildlife by orally vaccinating them with baits containing vaccine.

TSE Programs
The overall trend for TSEs is positive and improving year after year due to good implementation of the monitoring and eradication programs in most member states. The commission has agreed to make €67 million available from the EU budget to assist member states in the compulsory monitoring of TSEs, and for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie eradication measures. Requests from member states for BSE eradication (i.e., culling of cohorts of BSE infected animals) have dropped in line with the reduction in new BSE cases. The second year of the special multi-annual program for scrapie eradication submitted by Cyprus is included and over eight million Euros has been allocated as foreseen.

Zoonoses Control Programs
Salmonella programs have further expanded in 2010 with the inclusion of activities in turkey farms (now turkey, broilers, layers, and breeders are covered). Historically, the use of Salmonella funds has been difficult to predict and have often been underused as a large part of the cost depends on the slaughter of infected flocks, whose value varies considerably depending on the stage of production. A financial contribution of €26 million has been allocated to control zoonotic Salmonella in poultry and turkey flocks in 25 member states.

Avian Influenza Surveillance
Member states will also continue surveillance for avian influenza in poultry and wild birds in 2010 with financial assistance from the EU of more than four million Euros towards laboratory testing and wild bird sampling costs. This surveillance is the most effective way to detect early outbreaks of both high and low pathogenic influenzas and was extremely useful in previous years, allowing early detection of avian influenza in wild birds before commercial flocks became infected.

February 2010 RENDER | back