Veterinary Diagnostics - Epidemiological Update

Veterinary Diagnostics - Epidemiological Update

In Kalorama Information’s last edition of its veterinary diagnostics market study, bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) was estimated to be among the largest food animal infectious disease test markets in the world. The global BVD test market has grown in the past decade largely through European BVD disease control and eradication efforts; the United States has yet to implement a BVD control program nationwide with only regional voluntary programs active. The current state of BVD control activities is illustrative of the individually profound, yet disparate disease factors that determine the course of the global food animal diagnostics market, and of the difficulty facing industry participants seeking to establish core markets with stable long-term sales.

Bovine viral diarrhea can severely impact dairy and livestock operations; BVD infection causes calf abortions, malformations and persistently infected (PI) calves that expose herds to further infection and outbreaks. Productivity losses from BVD in the United States are estimated in the billions of dollars. Regulation is an essentially negligible component to U.S. BVD test demand. Apart from countries with active eradication programs, farm and producer motivation for determining BVD infection and prevalence stems from productivity loss mitigation and the need for guidance in implementing other measures such as biosecurity and PI elimination.

Since 2003, several EU countries have embarked upon aggressive BVD control and eradication programs, with molecular testing a significant activity used to identify and determine the prevalence of strains. The success or progress of such programs in countries like Germany and the United Kingdom - typically evaluated through the elimination of PI individuals - ultimately diminishes BVD test demand.

Once rivaling transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in terms of global test market size, BVD is giving way to emergent disease threats that have severely impacted swine production worldwide. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) was known as an endemic European animal pathogen since 1971 and was responsible for low mortality outbreaks in several European and Asian countries. The pathogenic threat became significantly greater with the outbreak of a significantly more virulent PEDv strain among Chinese pig farms in 2010. The strain was subsequently identified in U.S. outbreaks in May 2013. Another coronavirus or swine enteric coronavirus disease (SECD), porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV), was also likely introduced from China to the United States in 2014. The prevalence of European PEDv is also notable (around a quarter of farms in some european countries), though the endemic strains are less virulent.

Another specter over the global swine industry is African swine fever (ASF) which likely spread from the Republic of Georgia to Russia and in 2014 has been found in Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland. Complicating the diffusion of information and collaboration between authorities in Russia, Eastern European countries and the European Union has been the geopolitical conflict in Ukraine. An apparent vector for ASF in Europe has been the continental wild boar population that likely introduced the disease to domesticated swine in at least Lithuania. An added risk for ASF within the EU is the significantly higher population density of wild boars in the region compared to Russia. For now, the threat of ASF will at least heighten disease surveillance testing of wild boar populations in Europe.

Short-term historical growth in the food animal diagnostics market has been inconsistent with market volume variably affected year-to-year by disease outbreaks, surveillance, and eradication efforts. Industry responsiveness to new testing needs is paramount. Reagent development and production is the first step towards seizing a newly sprung food animal infectious disease test market. The sale of reagents to client labs bypasses lengthier kit and assay development timelines while enabling labs to complete rapid serological and molecular testing. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s recent market acquisitions are notable here as the company first acquired Life Technologies allowing the company to offer molecular ‘home brew’ test kit reagents to clients, as well as test kits and instruments. Thermo Fisher also recently injected some stability into its veterinary diagnostics business with the acquisition of Prionics, the market leader in TSE test products.