Assessment of the direct economic losses associated with hydatid disease (Echinococcus granulosus sensu stricto) in beef cattle slaughtered at an Australian abattoir.
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Bovine hydatid disease, characterised by fluid-filled hydatid cysts, is regularly found in the offal of beef cattle at slaughter. Organs found to be infected at slaughter are removed to preclude them from entering the human food chain. The organs are either downgraded to pet food or condemned. Previous studies have focussed on total economic losses, but have not calculated the cost of disease per animal, which would be useful information for producers when determining how best to manage hydatid disease. This study estimated the direct losses associated with hydatid disease in beef cattle slaughtered at an Australian beef abattoir both at the population (all cattle slaughtered) and individual animal level. Data on annual prevalence of hydatid disease in beef cattle were obtained from an Australian abattoir for the years 2011-2017. The direct losses resulting from the condemnation and downgrading of offal infected with hydatid cysts at the abattoir were estimated using data stratified by age, sex and feed-type. Official and literature-based sources of organ weight and price were used to estimate direct losses associated with hydatid disease in beef cattle slaughtered at the abattoir. Uncertainty and variability in input parameters were represented using uniform distributions and Monte Carlo sampling was used to model output parameter uncertainty. Out of 1,097,958 beef cattle slaughtered between January 2011 and December 2017, 97,832 (8.9%) were reported infected with hydatid disease. The median estimated direct loss to the abattoir for the duration of the study period was AU$655,560 (95% confidence interval [CI] AU$544,366-787,235). This equated to approximately AU$6.70 (95% CI AU$5.56-8.05) lost per infected animal. The annual median estimated direct losses due to hydatid disease at the abattoir were AU$93,651 (95% CI AU$77,767-112,462). Direct losses varied each year of the study and ranged from AU$38,683 in 2016 to AU$163,006 in 2014. This estimate of the direct losses associated with bovine hydatid disease most likely underestimates the true extent of the overall losses because indirect losses such as reduced carcass weights were not estimated in this study. Nevertheless, these estimates illustrate the negative economic impact of bovine hydatid disease and demonstrate that improved surveillance to enable control of hydatid disease should be considered both in Australia and globally. It would be worthwhile to estimate the losses in other beef abattoirs for the same time period to compare results, and to investigate the cost-benefit of control programs for bovine hydatid disease.