In a globalised world, animal diseases increasingly spread as a result of the exponential growth in trade and tourism. In 1996, the OIE developed a procedure for the official recognition of the sanitary status of its Member Countries that currently covers four priority animal diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, rinderpest and foot and mouth disease. In some 10 years, these official disease recognitions, ratified each year by the Organisation, have become an indispensable element of international trade.

Further diseases are planned to be added to that list of priority animal diseases.