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22nd Conference of the Regional Commission of the Office International des Epizooties for Asia, the Far East and Oceania - Under the patronage of the Honourable Mahesh Acharya Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives of His Majesty's Government of Nepal

Meeting of Heads of Animal Health Services of Asia, the Far East and Oceania on arboviruses, foot and mouth disease and rinderpest eradication in the region

The 22nd Conference of the Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) was held in Kathmandu (Nepal) from 27 to 30 November 2001.

This Conference, to which all the Heads of Veterinary Services in the region were invited, drew up a comprehensive report on the animal health status and discussed arboviral diseases, such as Japanese encephalitis virus and West Nile virus, new strains of foot and mouth disease virus in the region, Nipah virus infection in Malaysia and rinderpest eradication

  • The main diseases affecting animals in the region since the beginning of 2001, acting as a barrier to international trade with Asia and the Pacific and which could threaten public health, were listed by the Conference. The list is available on the OIE Web site.
  • The main topics discussed during the Conference related to:

Arboviruses, such as the Japanese encephalitis virus. Arboviral diseases receive serious consideration as the emerging infectious diseases globally. The participants of the Conference thus agreed on the need to note the pattern of world-wide expansion in the distribution of significant arboviral diseases, such as bluetongue, Rift Valley fever, West Nile and Japanese encephalitis, and to adopt the principle of preparedness for emerging arboviral disease threats. The Conference also recommended that Member Countries consider developing regional collaboration in developing predictive models of arboviral disease or otherwise developing strategies to derive benefit from modern computer based technologies. The chapter on zoning/regionalisation in the OIE International Animal Health Code has been revised recently and would be relevant to arboviral diseases.

New strains of foot and mouth disease virus in the region (surveillance, eradication and prevention). The true picture of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) situation across the whole region is generally incomplete, as the surveillance systems in place are not uniformly reactive or comprehensive. Reports of the World Reference Laboratory for FMD and the Office International des Epizooties over the last five years indicate that a number of new strains of FMD have been detected in the region. The majority of these outbreaks have been caused by the so-called Pan-Asia strain of FMD. New strains of FMD have emerged in the region in the last ten years and have caused outbreaks in countries that have been free from FMD for long periods. In addition, one strain has spread widely beyond the region and has caused severe problems in South Africa and Europe. This improved surveillance could be linked to the application of bilateral measures to reduce risks associated with trade in animals and animal products. It is expected that such co-ordinated activity should have a significant impact in reducing the incidence of FMD in the region. The participants, therefore, concurred that the OIE should continue to promote standards and harmonised guidelines for epidemiological investigation of FMD outbreaks in the region, which should be adhered to by OIE Member Countries, that Member Countries should develop bilateral and/or regional agreements and procedures as appropriate to reduce the risk of dissemination of FMD by the movement of livestock across international borders, and that the use of modified live virus vaccines against FMD be strongly discouraged.

Rinderpest eradication: prospects and constraints. As a result of a concerted internationally-coordinated effort for its eradication, there is now a reducing global threat from rinderpest. Formerly, this disease used to devastate the livelihoods of millions of farmers and its effects covered all elements of agriculture. Now there is a very real prospect that rinderpest can be eradicated within the next few years - the first time that a major disease of livestock has been totally eliminated from the world. This will be a major achievement for the veterinary profession. Today, there is growing confidence that rinderpest survives in just three reservoirs. A remaining reservoir is in the Indus River buffalo tract of southern Pakistan. A new approach is called for in which annual mass vaccination campaigns must cease and be replaced by intensive surveillance to disclose areas of virus infection, which are then eliminated by intensive, focussed vaccination ('immunosterilisation').