To help livestock production groups to rationalise health decisions, and at the request of the Association for the certification of livestock health (Association pour la certification de la santé animale en élevage : ACERSA), an economic study was conducted to assess the possible cost-effectiveness of the eradication of bovine virus diarrhoea in France. The study was performed using a fictitious average region comprising 235,000 cattle belonging to 3,300 farms, which corresponds to one-eighty-fifth of the total cattle population of France. In the first phase of the study, the cost of the disease in this region was estimated to be approximately six million French francs (US$989,937) per year. Subsequently, the cost of an eradication strategy based on the inspection of all animals when introduced into a herd, the screening of permanently-infected immunotolerant animals (IPI) and the elimination of these animals, was evaluated at nearly eleven million francs (US$1,814,884) during the first year. Theories were then formulated regarding the time required to achieve eradication (twenty years) and to reduce the epidemiological parameters (development curve of the eradication of IPI animals and of animals which had given positive results to serological tests). The reduction in the cost of the disease as a result of the eradication policy was then simulated in accordance with the evolution of the epidemiological parameters. Finally, the cost of controlling the disease, together with the residual cost of the disease, were compared with the cost of the disease without control measures. This demonstrated that such an eradication policy would, in theory, only begin to become cost-effective after approximately fifteen years. In view of the long period required to achieve cost-effectiveness, the considerable complexity of implementing an eradication programme and imponderables (particularly concerning virus spread), the recommendation of such a course of action to cattle-breeder groups is questionable. This research demonstrates that a relatively simple economic approach can serve as a useful decision-making aid.
Bovine virus diarrhoea – Cattle diseases – Cost-benefit study – Decision-making – Economic analysis – Eradication – France – Infectious diseases.