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All animal diseases have the potential to adversely affect human populations by reducing the quantity and quality of food, other livestock products (hides, skins, fibers) and animal power (traction, transport) that can be obtained from a given quantity of resources and by reducing people's assets. Of these, transboundary animal diseases tend to have the most serious consequences.

Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) may be defined as those epidemic diseases which are highly contagious or transmissible and have the potential for very rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, causing serious socio-economic and possibly public health consequences.

These diseases which cause a high morbidity and mortality in susceptible animal populations, constitute a constant threat to the livelihood of livestock farmers.

Furthermore, their potential consequences are of such a magnitude that their occurrence may also have a significant detrimental effect on national economies.

Transboundary animal diseases have the potential to:

threaten food security through serious loss of animal protein and/or loss of draught animal power for cropping;

increase poverty levels particularly in poor communities that have a high incidence dependence on livestock farming for sustenance;

cause major production losses for livetsock products such as meat; milk and other dairy products; wooland other fibers and skins and hides, thereby reducing farm incomes. They may also restrict opportunities for upgrading the production potential of local livestock industries by making it difficult to utilise exotic high producing breeds which tend to be very susceptible to the transboundary disease;

add significantly to the cost of livestock production through the necessity to apply costly disease control measures;

seriously disrupt or inhibit trade in livestock and livestock products either within a country or internationally. Their occurrence may thereby cause major losses in national export income in significant livestock-producing countries;

cause public health consequences in the case of those transboundary animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans (i.e. zoonoses);

cause environmental consequences through die-offs in wildlife populations in some cases, and;

cause pain and suffering for affected animals.

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