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Arresting Contagion: Science, Policy, and Conflicts over Animal Disease Control

Author

Listed:
  • Olmstead, Alan L.

    (University of California, Davis.)

  • Rhode, Paul W.

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Over sixty percent of all infectious human diseases, including tuberculosis, influenza, cholera, and hundreds more, are shared with other vertebrate animals. Arresting Contagion tells the story of how early efforts to combat livestock infections turned the United States from a disease-prone nation into a world leader in controlling communicable diseases. Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode show that many innovations devised in the fight against animal diseases, ranging from border control and food inspection to drug regulations and the creation of federal research labs, provided the foundation for modern food safety programs and remain at the heart of U.S. public health policy. America’s first concerted effort to control livestock diseases dates to the founding of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in 1884. Because the BAI represented a milestone in federal regulation of commerce and industry, the agency encountered major jurisdictional and constitutional obstacles. Nevertheless, it proved effective in halting the spread of diseases, counting among its early breakthroughs the discovery of Salmonella and advances in the understanding of vector-borne diseases. By the 1940s, government policies had eliminated several major animal diseases, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and establishing a model for eradication that would be used around the world. Although scientific advances played a key role, government interventions did as well. Today, a dominant economic ideology frowns on government regulation of the economy, but the authors argue that in this case it was an essential force for good.

Suggested Citation

  • Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2015. "Arresting Contagion: Science, Policy, and Conflicts over Animal Disease Control," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674728776, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:hup:pbooks:9780674728776
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    Cited by:

    1. Vicente Pinilla, 2018. "Agriocliometrics and Agricultural Change in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1803, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    2. Rob Fraser, 2018. "Compensation Payments and Animal Disease: Incentivising Farmers Both to Undertake Costly On-farm Biosecurity and to Comply with Disease Reporting Requirements," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 70(3), pages 617-629, July.
    3. Hennessy, David A. & Zhang, Jing & Bai, Na, 2019. "Animal health inputs, endogenous risk, general infrastructure, technology adoption and industrialized animal agriculture," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 355-362.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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