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STRENGTHENING SURVEILLANCE OF EXOTIC DISEASES IN THE AMERICAS

The 14th Conference of the Regional Commission for the Americas of the Office International des Epizooties was held in Winnipeg (Canada) from 28 April to 1 May 1998.

The animal health situation in this region is steadily improving, especially in regard to foot and mouth disease, which some South American territories (Argentina, southern states of Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) have either eradicated or are in the process of eradicating. Other diseases, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, equine infectious anaemia and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, are also the subject of intensive control/eradication campaigns. However, some diseases persist: for example, classical swine fever, which has reappeared in Haiti and subsequently in the Dominican Republic, is threatening other Caribbean countries. This situation has induced regional and international organisations to assist these countries in organising a control plan based on the vaccination or slaughtering of pigs.

With a view to protecting their herds from exotic diseases that could pose a threat to the entire continent, the countries of the Americas resolved to strengthen their epidemiological surveillance systems, by increasing the resources needed for the development of their high-security laboratories where agents of these diseases are isolated and identified and by following the relevant OIE guidelines. Furthermore, they will strengthen surveillance of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies of animals.

The countries of the Americas also decided to continue in-depth research on infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and bovine viral diarrhoea, which lead to serious losses to the animal husbandry industry in the Americas, and to strengthen surveillance and control measures of these two diseases.

The following conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas will be held in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) in March 2000.

OIE, the World organisation for animal health, was created in 1924 and has its headquarters in Paris. It brings together 150 countries whose Delegates form an 'International Committee' and supports four Specialist Commissions and five Regional Commissions. Its purpose is to inform and advise the Veterinary Services of its Member Countries on the best ways to contribute to the eradication of the most dangerous diseases for animals or humans, and to determine the health standards for international trade.

Paris, 1 May 1998

Contact : Maria Zampaglione

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