New Issue Paper on Animal Disease Risk

February 18, 2005 — A new issue paper, which includes a historical review of animal diseases and an overview of their significant global effects, was released this week by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST).

The issue paper, titled “Global Risks of Infectious Animal Diseases,” also includes an outline of the diverse ways animal diseases enter a country, as well as an evaluation of contemporary practices that exacerbate disease spread.

The CAST issue paper was written and evaluated by an international Task Force of 13 authors and four reviewers from France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Specific topics include patterns for animal diseases and their control programs; effects of animal diseases on human health; national and international economic effects of animal diseases; effects at the industry level; social and political effects; and national and international monitoring, surveillance and response.

According to a CAST press release, “upon a disease outbreak, the social and political impacts can outgrow the technical and scientific considerations. Consequently, the need for effective risk communication to minimize unwarranted anxiety concerning animal disease crises becomes an important consideration.”

Because of the challenges facing animal agriculture, there are related issues that must be understood to counter these challenges. One of these important issues is the confluence of the worlds of animal and public health, which is evident currently in the area of food security and agriterrorism. “The recent devastating outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, Newcastle disease, and highly pathogenic avian influenza demonstrate the global risks of foreign animal and emerging diseases,” notes Jim Pearson, task force co-chairman and international consultant. “These outbreaks have had severe economic, social and political impacts.”

For more information or to read the issue paper in its entirety, visit the CAST Web site at

Editor’s Note: This release was provided by the American Meat Institute (AMI). For more information visit

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