The World Animal Health Information System, better known as WAHIS, is an internet-based computer system that processes data on animal diseases in real-time and then informs the international community. Access to this secure site is only available to authorised users, namely the Delegates of OIE Member Countries and their authorised representatives, who use WAHIS to notify the OIE of relevant animal disease information.
The system consists in two components:
The Early warning system
Whenever an important epidemiological event occurs in a Member Country, the Member Country must inform the OIE by sending an Immediate Notification (terrestrial and aquatic animals) which includes the reason for the notification, the name of the disease, the affected species, the geographical area affected, the control measures applied and any laboratory tests carried out or in progress.
To improve the scope and efficiency of the OIE's early warning system, Member Countries should immediately notify to the OIE Headquarters the events of epidemiological significance according to the reasons laid down in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code for terrestrial animals and in the Aquatic Animal Health Code for aquatic animals (Chapters 1.1 – Articles 1.1.3).
Once they have been received, verified and validated by the OIE, the immediate notifications are published in the OIE's three official working languages (English, French and Spanish) under the heading Alerts and sent to everyone on the OIE-Info Distribution List, an electronic distribution list set up to facilitate and widen the dissemination of animal health information. This list is open not only to the Delegates of Member Countries, the OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres and international and regional organisations, but also, by subscription, to any institutions or individuals interested in receiving such information directly.
After having informed the OIE of a significant epidemiological event by means of an immediate notification report, the Member must send weekly Follow-up Reports so that the event can be monitored as it evolves. In all cases, the country must submit a final report to notify either that the event has been resolved or that the disease has become endemic. In both cases, the country will continue to submit information in its six-monthly reports if the disease is on the OIE List.
To increase the ease and speed with which this animal health information can be accessed, the OIE launched lately the WAHIS Alerts application which enables OIE disease alerts (immediate notifications) and follows-up reports to be sent direct to mobile phones and tablets.
The Monitoring system
Six-monthly Reports (terrestrial and aquatic animals) provide information on the presence or absence of diseases on the OIE List and the prevention and control measures applied. In 2009, a new possibility has been added to differentiate, when relevant, between domestic and wild species using different occurrence codes. This change is an important step forward to improve transparency and the knowledge of the animal health situation worldwide in domestic and wild species, without necessarily putting unjustified trade barriers against countries notifying diseases in wild animals only. For diseases reported as being present in a country/territory during a given six-month period, the country/territory in question must provide quantitative data on the number of outbreaks, susceptible animals, cases, deaths, animals destroyed and animals vaccinated. For diseases that are present and are notifiable in the country, the OIE recommends that countries provide quantitative data by month and by first administrative division. Countries/territories that so wish can enter their data in WAHIS each month during a given six-month period (i.e. without waiting until the end of the six-month period), thereby providing the international community with the most recent information on the diseases that are present and which Member Countries consider are the most important.
In this respect, Member Countries are given other options for entering information in WAHIS on diseases that are present: by month and for the whole country/territory, by first administrative level and for the entire six-month period, and by first administrative level for the whole country/territory. The choice of one or other of these options will depend on the national surveillance and monitoring systems in the country/territory in question and the type of information generated by these systems. These choices made by Countries and Territories will be reflected in the way the WAHID interface is presented whenever a request for information is made.
Annual Reports: the two six-monthly reports of a given year are combined as part of the annual report for OIE-listed diseases. Moreover and in cooperation with the WHO and the FAO, Member Countries are asked to complete it once a year with information on non OIE-listed diseases, the impact of zoonoses on Humans, animal populations, the Veterinary Services personnel, national reference laboratories and their performed diagnostic tests, and, when appropriate, vaccine manufacturers and vaccine production.
As an adjunct to the World Animal Health Information (WAHIS) on-line reporting system, the data and information provided by Member Countries are accessible via WAHIS interface and can be accessed by the public through the OIE Web site.