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Measure  –  Infections

Food animals

This section provides information and resources to measure the prevalence and impact of diseases in food animals and for prioritization among diseases. You can also access selected data sources and relevant reports.

Diseases are one of the key constraints to animal productivity and antibiotics are often the treatment of choice without proper prior diagnosis. Understanding which diseases are highly prevalent or lead farmers to decide to use antibiotics helps to design interventions for prevention and with that remove an important driver of antibiotic consumption in animal production.

Mapping key diseases

There are different methods to learn which the key diseases are in a specific location or production system:

  • Systematic literature reviews give a good indication on what diseases are likely to be of importance in a certain setting.
  • Surveillance data collected at national level give an indication on occurrence of important transboundary or zoonotic diseases, but may not include production diseases.
  • Multi-pathogen prevalence studies can help to generate reliable data on various pathogens, but do not address impact of the diseases and livestock keepers’ response.
  • Participatory tools can be used to involve farmers and understand practices and thus complement prevalence surveys. See also page on Knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices.

The resources below have been sorted into the following tables:

  • Tools and guidelines
  • Databases and reports

For monitoring foodborne diseases in humans, see also humans, and for measuring antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens/zoonotic diseases, see Antibiotic resistance.

Selected Resources

Tools and guidelines

Resource Description
Economic analysis of animal diseases Guidelines on how to conduct analysis on economic impact of animal diseases from FAO.
A Manual for Participatory Disease Surveillance Practitioners (PDF 2,4 MB) Manual that describes how to perform participatory disease epidemiology, including semi-structured interviews and ranking and scoring. Example application provided for avian influenza, but methodology and tools of general relevance.
Monitoring and analysis of food-borne diseases Information portal of the European Food safety Authority providing information, manuals and reporting instructions on monitoring of foodborne diseases (publications at bottom of page, for example Manual for reporting on zoonoses and zoonotic agents).

Databases and reports

Resource Description
WOAH-WAHIS portal: Animal Health Data Information portal. Access to world animal health data through tools such as the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) database with information on the animal health situation worldwide, including outbreak reports and control measures, and List of real-time alert notices (significant epidemiological events).
Information on aquatic and terrestrial animal diseases Information portal from WOAH (founded as OIE) with resources and information on more than 100 diseases affecting animals. Diseases are listed in alphabetical order and for type of animal.
World livestock 2013: changing disease landscapes Report that explores the changing disease landscape by applying the three-tiered Pressure-State-Response framework, which includes discussions on economic and social developments, climate change and the need for sustainable development and development of a One Health approach.
The impacts of livestock diseases and their control on growth and development processes that are pro-poor Journal article that discusses poverty reduction and the importance of disease control in livestock in low income countries, reviews disease prioritization attempts and describes challenges in assessing such parameters.
“Sheep are like fast-growing cabbage’: Gender dimension of small ruminant health in Ethiopia Book chapter describing a participatory project on disease prioritisation by farmers in small holder systems in Ethiopia. Includes gender dimension (men and women may prioritize differently). See also slideshow with information and results.
ProMED-mail, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases Database. This online reporting system offers rapid information dissemination on infectious disease outbreaks and acute exposures to toxins that affect human health, including livestock.
Surveillance reports of infectious diseases in animals and humans in Sweden Reports: Example of country work – Annual update on the surveillance activities carried out in Sweden, for animal diseases and zoonotic agents in humans, food, feed and animals.

More from "Infections"

World Organisation for Animal Health - OIE. Animal diseases [Internet]. OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health. [cited 2019 Aug 14]. Available from:
World Organisation for animal health - OIE. OIE-WAHIS portal: Animal Health Data [Internet]. [cited 2019 May 17]. Available from:
Monitoring and analysis of food-borne diseases [Internet]. European Food Safety Authority - EFSA. [cited 2019 May 20]. Available from:
Perry B, Grace D. The impacts of livestock diseases and their control on growth and development processes that are pro-poor. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci [Internet]. 2009 Sep 27 [cited 2019 May 20];364(1530):2643–55. Available from:
McLeod A, Pinto J, Lubroth J, Martin V, Rushton J, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Economic analysis of animal diseases. [Internet]. 2016. Available from:
Cameron A, Interafrican bureau for animal resources, African Union. Manual of Basic Animal Disease Surveillance [Internet]. 2012. Available from:
Wieland B, Kinati W, Mulema AA. “Sheep are like fast-growing cabbage’: Gender dimension of small ruminant health in Ethiopia". In: A different kettle of fish? Gender integration in livestock and fish research [Internet]. Volendam; 2016. Available from:
International Society of Infectious Diseases. ProMED Mail - the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases [Internet]. Pro-med mail. [cited 2016 Apr 14]. Available from:
National Veterinary Institute Sweden - SVA. Surveillance reports [Internet]. Disease Surveillance. [cited 2016 Apr 5]. Available from:
Slingenbergh J, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO. World livestock 2013: changing disease landscapes [Internet]. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2013 [cited 2016 Mar 17]. Available from: