It is unwise to return to the case of many small cattle farms. This was the view of healthcare professor Arjan Stegmann when answering questions from MPs during the debate on “Zoönoses in the Crosshairs”. According to the report, the risk of a pandemic from the Netherlands is minimal.
The Zoönoses in the visor report was commissioned by the Ministers of Medicare, Sports, Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The translators, experts from Human and Animal Health Care, led by Henk Beckdam, who was a WHO physician who had suffered from outbreaks of SARS in China and H5N1 influenza in China and Egypt. Stegeman is the Vice President of the Expert Group.
Explaining the report, Bekedam stressed that it is not easy to anticipate a new pandemic. This is why a good monitoring system is so important. In the animal sector, this is done very well in the Netherlands. This could be done much better in human health care. Real-time monitoring and reporting are essential, particularly from an international perspective.
A number of critical factors apply to the pandemic caused by zoonotic diseases. This is a lot of contact with wild animals and many animals and people who have stayed together. So the risks are higher in Asian countries where there are still markets for wild animals in the big cities.
Although there are many animals and people in the Netherlands, globally this percentage is only 1% among animals and even lower among humans. This does not mean that nothing can happen in the Netherlands, but the risk is minimal.
improvements in the netherlands
The risk is also small because the situation in the Netherlands has improved significantly in recent years. For example, at its peak there were 15 million pigs on 135,000 farms in the Netherlands. Now less than 12 million in less than 4,000 companies. This reduces the risk of spread between companies.
“Given all the rules that are now being introduced for renewal because of nitrogen, among other things, you shouldn’t want to go back to many small businesses,” Stegeman says. Bigger companies that are spaced better. However, the disease can persist longer on a large farm. So internal biosecurity is very important.
Vaccination is a better solution to bird flu than compulsory incubation, as Stegeman pointed out in the course of the discussion about Report. However, the vaccines developed so far do not work well enough in practice. But a new generation is on its way with better expectations.
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