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Estimating the economic impact of a possible equine and human epidemic of West Nile virus infection in Belgium

Humblet M.F., Vandeputte S., Fecher-Bourgeois F., Léonard P., Gosset C., Balenghien T., Durand B., Saegerman C.. 2016. Euro Surveillance, 21 (31) : 14 p..

DOI: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.31.30309

This study aimed at estimating, in a prospective scenario, the potential economic impact of a possible epidemic of WNV infection in Belgium, based on 2012 values for the equine and human health sectors, in order to increase preparedness and help decision-makers. Modelling of risk areas, based on the habitat suitable for Culex pipiens, the main vector of the virus, allowed us to determine equine and human populations at risk. Characteristics of the different clinical forms of the disease based on past epidemics in Europe allowed morbidity among horses and humans to be estimated. The main costs for the equine sector were vaccination and replacement value of dead or euthanised horses. The choice of the vaccination strategy would have important consequences in terms of cost. Vaccination of the country's whole population of horses, based on a worst-case scenario, would cost more than EUR 30 million; for areas at risk, the cost would be around EUR 16¿17 million. Regarding the impact on human health, short-term costs and socio-economic losses were estimated for patients who developed the neuroinvasive form of the disease, as no vaccine is available yet for humans. Hospital charges of around EUR 3,600 for a case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease and EUR 4,500 for a case of acute flaccid paralysis would be the major financial consequence of an epidemic of West Nile virus infection in humans in Belgium.

Mots-clés : Épidémiologie; analyse économique; Évaluation de l'impact; flavivirus; genre humain; animal; transmission des maladies; analyse du risque; habitat; culex pipiens; enquête pathologique; modèle de simulation; modèle mathématique; santé publique; belgique; fièvre du nil occidental

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