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Research comment
Improving the impact of disease control strategies with limited resources: where to invest?
  1. Katharina D. C. Stärk,, PhD, MRCVS, DipECVPH
  1. Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead, North Mymms, AL9 7TA, UK
  1. E-mail: katharina.staerk{at}

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Diseases in livestock have a negative impact on animal welfare but also on the economic performance of farms and entire industry sectors. Diseases are therefore subject to control, often systematically as part of industry- or country-wide programmes.

For infectious diseases, the most common intervention strategies include vaccination, systematic treatments of high-risk animals, removal of affected animals to prevent spread, biosecurity measures and other management interventions, removal of entire herds, and/or trade restrictions. After such interventions are introduced, systematic data collection, in other words surveillance, is needed to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the intervention and the progress of control. However, both intervention and surveillance strategies incur costs. To assess the economic performance of a programme, it is therefore necessary to consider them jointly.1,2 However, only a limited number of programmes have been evaluated using this approach.

Assessing economic performance

The study by Pinior and others,3 summarised on p 257 of this week’s issue of Vet Record, is a notable exception in this respect. The authors conducted an economic assessment of both intervention (ie, vaccination in this case) and surveillance activities to control bluetongue virus in two countries, Austria and Switzerland, over a 10-year period. The ratio of costs for intervention …

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