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CLASSICAL SWINE FEVER A CONTINUING THREAT

The Office International des Epizooties has just held a Symposium on Classical Swine Fever (Hog Cholera) in Birmingham (United Kingdom) from 9 to 10 July 1998, with the scientific and financial participation of the European Commission (DG VI) and the World Animal Health Industry Confederation (COMISA). The symposium followed immediately the 15th International Pig Veterinary Society Congress.

Classical swine fever (CSF), or hog cholera, is an important contagious viral disease of pigs. The presence of CSF has serious consequences for productivity. The national and international quarantine measures that are necessary to stop the spread of the disease also severely restrict the movement of swine and trade in pork and pork products.

Despite efforts by many government veterinary authorities to stamp out the disease and to eliminate the virus from national pig populations, the disease remains widespread in some regions, and continues to be of economic significance in many countries of Asia, Europe and Latin America. The recent resurgence of CSF in western and central Europe has had dramatic economic effects on pig breeding there and raised some questions regarding disease prevention and control strategies.

Although eradication and maintenance of disease-free status in the absence of vaccination is possible and has been accomplished in several countries, concerns remain about disease control policies in areas of high density pig populations and on large livestock units. Recent developments in diagnostics and in vaccinology offer prospects for new approaches to these problems.

This OIE symposium was held to present an international forum where these important issues could be discussed. The themes of the sessions included the trade and economic implications of CSF, control and eradication strategies in different regions of the world, and the application of molecular biology to the epidemiology and control of CSF. The symposium included presentations from all regions of the world, and speakers from different disciplines and with different kinds of involvement with this disease. 

Participants recognised the importance of updating legislation to prevent and control the disease, as well as to increase public awareness of the danger of feeding uncooked food wastes to swine. For severe epidemics, countries that normally prohibit vaccination should consider the advantages of the emergency use of newly developed vaccines that enable vaccine reactions to be distinguished from infection. Information from ongoing studies of the disease in highly concentrated pig populations, as well as in wild swine, whose numbers are increasing in many areas, should assist in the control of this important disease.

The symposium was attended by 250 participants from Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Far East and Oceania, representing national Veterinary Services, scientific researchers, and trade and industry.

OIE, the world organisation for animal health, was created in 1924 and has its headquarters in Paris. The Delegates of its 151 Member Countries form the ‘International Committee’, which is supported by the work of four Specialist Commissions and five Regional Commissions. The OIE’s purpose is to inform and advise the Veterinary Services of its Member Countries so as to contribute to the eradication of animal diseases that are the most dangerous to animals and humans, and to determine the health standards for international trade.

Contact : Maria Zampaglione

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