Dissertation: Avian influenza (bird flu)

Economic effects of avian influenza in a spatio-temporal analysis

The dissertation analyses the economic consequences of three large avian influenza outbreaks in the Netherlands (2003), Germany (2006) and the USA (2015) in a spatio-temporal analysis. With the help of experts, the long-term indirect consequences of such outbreaks are examined in detail.

Author: Harm Böckmann, Scientific and Information Centre for Sustainable Poultry Management, University of Vechta (Germany)

Term: February 2016 - February 2019

Funding: Doctoral scholarship of the university until 2018

Abstract: Wild birds, which often show no symptoms, are considered reservoir carriers for the avian influenza viruses. Through the international flight routes of these wild birds, but also through human-related transports, the pathogens have now spread throughout the world. With few exceptions, outbreaks of various sizes in low-pathogenic (LPAI) or high-pathogenic (HPAI) form have been found in almost all countries. Avian influenza thereby became a global phenomenon.

An outbreak of the highly pathogenic form of the avian influenza virus has a tremendous economic impact on the region and, moreover, on the whole country. The emergence of HPAI has serious short-term consequences for farmers and the upstream and downstream industry. Losses of livestock, empty stalls and production capacity in industry and economic damage must be considered by a movement ban. The indirect medium and long term consequences are, however, generally more serious. These include import and export restrictions that lead to long-term market shifts.

The consequences of an outbreak are also crucial because HPAI can also be transmitted to humans. Although this has rarely occurred before, such a possibility is basically conceivable, and requires special precautions. Consumers are correspondingly sensitive to consumer abstinence and switch to other types of meat. This in turn generally results in a price decline in the domestic market, which leads to further economic damage.

This dissertation aims to analyse the described economic impacts of HPAI in the Netherlands (2003), Germany (2006) and the United States (2015). Particular emphasis is placed here on the distinction between direct and indirect consequences. It also discusses the effects of spatial and temporal factors. The outbreak in the Netherlands occurred regionally concentrated in a very intensive region. In Germany, there were hardly any losses in the area of poultry during the outbreak, but the economic impact was considerable. The outbreak in the United States was the largest so far in the history of the country. However, the direct consequences were limited to a few federal states.

Statistical evaluations are supported by expert opinions from all 3 countries. Conclusions based on these statistics are validated by the experts' assessments to enable well-founded results.

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