A group representing the animal health industry has highlighted the impact of climate change on animal disease and emphasised the need for innovation in veterinary medicines.
IFAH-Europe – the representative body of manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in Europe – believes changes in global weather patterns are increasing the risk of disease.
Its secretary general Roxane Feller said: “With temperatures becoming more clement across the continent, we are seeing incidences of animal diseases in Europe that were not previously reported, such as the introduction of Schmallenberg virus in 2011 from Africa or the threat of Rift Valley fever moving into Europe.
“Climate change and activity such as the creation of wetlands to offset impacts may increase the presence of vectors such as ticks, mosquitoes and fleas, increasing the threat of transmissible diseases.”
Many vector-borne diseases lack effective medicines for treatment and prevention. IFAH-Europe, which promotes a single market in veterinary medicines across Europe, says vaccination has the potential to be one of the most effective methods in dealing with these diseases.
It said investment was often constrained, however, by the huge costs and resources needed for research that was not offered adequate data protection.
The organisation’s spokesman said: “Animal health companies are dedicated to bringing new veterinary medicines to market – a highly costly process, up to €129 million (£90 million) that can take between 5 and 11 years to complete.
“We call for incentives for companies to expand the range of medicines available and to develop innovative solutions for animal disease prevention and treatment.
“Climate change affects us all and may lead to Europe seeing more diseases – new to both us and our animals – than before. We need innovation and vaccine banks to be ready to deal with these.”