Anni McLeod, Nancy Morgan, Adam Prakash, Jan Hinrichs, FAO (AGAL and ESCB).
FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases Operations (ECTAD)
Estimates of global HPAI loss from the outbreaks since 2003 run into billions1. The cost of the 1997
outbreak in Hong Kong, it is suggested, may have been US$100s of millions including knock on
effects, but the very strict control measures applied may have prevented large scale human infection.
In spite of this, the global poultry sector is dynamic and resilient. Global production and trade have
shown the potential to recover quickly from severe outbreaks that until recently were confined mainly
to East and South East Asia. Why, then, is this disease the focus of so much attention, when other
major transboundary animal diseases (classical swine fever, even foot and mouth disease) and other
important diseases of poultry (Newcastle disease) cause much less interest.?
Four factors contribute to HPAI’s potential economic and social impact, and this paper will briefly
examine each in turn.
1. It is a zoonotic disease, and can cause death in humans.
2. Local effects of the 2003-4 outbreaks were very severe, caused considerable losses of
production, and loss of livelihoods of vulnerable people,
3. Several countries that experienced large outbreaks in 2003-4, and have now seen the disease
move to an endemic status. They face a prolonged financial drain for control costs.
4. The movement of migratory birds has caused outbreaks to emerge in several countries and
regions simultaneously, with rapid spread across central Asia to Europe and Africa. If
widespread outbreaks persisted and were not quickly controlled, they could disrupt the global
poultry population and global trade.
To date, the number of recorded human illnesses and deaths is very small and all have been traced
back to contact with poultry or uncooked poultry products. The direct cost in loss of life and human