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Glanders poses a serious health risk to both animals and humans in the Middle-East

An OIE mission visited Bahrain, Syria and Kuwait to assess the situation on glanders in horses



Paris, 13 October 2010 – In the Middle-East the incidence of glanders, an infectious disease that mainly affects horses and poses a serious health risk to animals and even humans must be increasingly monitored by official national Veterinary services in the region, concluded a high-level OIE expert mission that visited, respectively Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain, (October 2nd - 8th 2010). The investigation found that sometimes weak early detection and laboratory diagnosis capacity combined with under reporting of the disease, facilitated spread of glanders in the region.

“Glanders is a re-emerging disease against which many countries in the Middle East are not armed. The OIE stands for strengthening national Veterinary Services and urges the concerned governments to rely on them in the fight against the disease,” Dr Vallat, OIE Director General, said. “We particularly appreciated Bahrein's transparency in quickly notifying the presence of the disease to the OIE earlier this year and we are confident that the country's huge surveillance efforts will lead to a very quick restoration of its freedom disease status, once the last investigations currently in progress in a small part of the country are completed”, he added.

The OIE mission indicated that disease investigations carried out by private veterinarians independently often prevented official veterinary authorities from monitoring the circulation of the disease in the Region, thus preventing timely and appropriate action.

The mission recommended that the preliminary disease surveillance programme carried out in Syria be strengthened through the procedures proposed by the OIE reference laboratory of Jena , Germany .
The same recommendation was formulated for Kuwait that for its part committed to continue notifying the presence of the disease (Kuwait had already done so within the framework of the OIE mission for the confirmed cases in 2009 and is expected to provide soon an update for 2010) and to develop an exhaustive programme for the identification of the entire horse population of the country.

“My colleagues from the OIE reference laboratory in Jena and myself were very well received in the field”, Dr Ben Jebara, team leader of the mission, commented. “The data we gathered thanks to the open collaboration of all stakeholders in the countries visited is of utmost importance to assess the situation of the presence of glanders in the entire region”, he added. Answers to the questionnaire sent by the OIE prior to the mission were prepared in all transparency by visited countries. Further missions may follow in other parts of the Region based on country requests.

The OIE will convene an international technical conference on glanders that will raise awareness of OIE Delegates on the disease and needs for appropriate surveillance mechanisms to be in place on their territory. The Conference shall be an opportunity for the OIE to assess needs of Members including a mechanism for their official recognition of the disease status on glanders by the OIE.

Background information

With only sporadic reporting of the disease worldwide in the 50 years following the Second World War glanders was believed to have disappeared, until it burst out again in the late 1990's in different regions of the world.

In 2010 Bahrain first notified the presence of the disease to the OIE in April (view the report at http://www.oie.int/wahis/public.php?page=single_report&pop=1&reportid=9239)

Access the disease information summary for glanders.

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