OIE presents state of global animal health situation

New disease status officially recognized for 10 countries.

May 24, 2018

5 Min Read
OIE presents state of global animal health situation
Dr. Paula Cáceres Soto, head of the world animal health information and analysis department© OIE / Maurine Tric.

One of the key missions of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is to ensure transparency in global animal health, including zoonoses. The global animal health situation was presented to the 86th OIE General Assembly based on the reports submitted to OIE by member countries as well as non-member countries between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 6, 2018.

Particular attention was paid to specific diseases subject to global control or eradication efforts or diseases of major interest, including:

* The global epizootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in birds. The data collected for HPAI through OIE's World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) for 2017-18 highlights further spread of the disease, with the highest number -- nearly 40% of countries -- reporting presence of the disease since the 2006 crisis.

OIE said these data show that since the beginning of 2017, the world has been experiencing a massive spread of avian influenza in animals, with continuously changing virus behavior. In this context, it is important to collect as much accurate, real-time information as possible. Member countries should also maintain their efforts in disease prevention and monitoring as the most effective way to prevent potential future panzootic events.

* Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is one of the priority diseases identified by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)-OIE "Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases." A global strategy for PPR control and eradication by 2030 was adopted in 2015. Since this date, outbreaks have been reported in previously non-PPR-affected countries, which shows the urgent need to improve the prevention and control measures defined by the global strategy, OIE said.

* Foot and mouth disease (FMD) remained one of the three most frequently notified OIE-listed diseases during 2017 and early 2018. The disease, under five serotypes, was reported as present in 34% of the 184 reporting countries and territories.

* Rabies continues to threaten the health of both people and animals. In particular, dog-mediated human rabies costs the lives of thousands of people every year mainly in Africa and Asia, even though the disease is 100% preventable. A global business plan for the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies was launched in 2017 under the initiative of the “United against Rabies” collaboration composed of the four partner organizations: OIE, the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Between 2017 and early May 2018, the disease was reported as present in 57% of the 183 countries and territories that notified information to OIE.

* Bovine tuberculosis, a zoonosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis is traditionally recognized as a public health issue and is a source of economic damage to livestock owners. It has been successfully controlled or eradicated in domestic animals in many countries. However, the disease remains prevalent in domestic animals or wildlife in parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as some regions in the Americas and Europe. In 2017 and early 2018, the disease was reported present by 43% of the reporting countries and territories and is distributed in every region of the world.

A Roadmap for Zoonotic Tuberculosis was launched in 2017 by OIE and its partners to support the worldwide effort needed to end the global tuberculosis epidemic.

* A significant spread of lumpy skin disease, a devastating disease of cattle, occurred over the last few years in previously unaffected countries, particularly in Europe, which is now considered a newly affected region in addition to the skin disease's traditional range in Africa and the Middle East. Prevention and control strategies in the recently affected areas have proved to be effective since no new country reported the first occurrence of the disease during 2017-18. Nevertheless, OIE encourages its members in at-risk areas to initiate vaccination campaigns ahead of virus entry and to continue timely reporting of all outbreaks through WAHIS. Timely sharing of information on lumpy skin disease serves the purpose of ensuring a good epidemiological understanding of the current risk situation for preparedness purposes, OIE said.

* The global situation of African swine fever is of concern to many regions around the globe due to the current epizootic situation causing substantial losses and sanitary barriers for trade of animals and their products. Since no vaccine exists against African swine fever and none is expected in the near future, risk management should focus on prevention of the disease through reducing the risk of virus introduction and exposure to potential sources as well as by the adequate implementation of biosecurity procedures, OIE said.

* Tilapia lake virus disease, an emerging disease in aquatic animals, has caused substantial mortality rates of up to 70% in farmed tilapia and the wild population over the last years in several regions of the world. In 2017 and early 2018, six countries and territories in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East notified OIE of new outbreaks of this disease, which represents an important risk for the fast-growing worldwide tilapia production sector.

New official disease statuses

OIE’s official disease status can be issued for six priority diseases and are of major importance to OIE members. Recognized by the World Trade Organization as reference standards in the field of animal health, the official status reflects the level of transparency and quality of the veterinary services of the country, increases the value of its livestock sector and facilitates access to regional and international markets.

At this year’s General Session, the World Assembly of OIE delegates distributed 11 certificates to 10 countries for official disease status recognition, including:

* Argentina, Bulgaria and Costa Rica were recognized as being "free from classical swine fever."

* Madagascar, Peru and Uruguay were recognized as being “free from PPR.”

* Nicaragua was recognized as having a “negligible bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk."

* Peru and Surinam were officially recognized as “free from FMD without vaccination,” and a zone in Brazil and one in Taiwan were officially recognized as “FMD free with vaccination."

OIE said no control programs were endorsed this year.

All recognized disease statuses will soon be available online.

In addition to official status recognition, new procedures for self-declarations of disease freedom by countries were recently made available. Under the responsibility of OIE members, self-declarations provide a way to enhance transparency and give visibility, in a timely manner, to the absence of diseases in countries.

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