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OIE emergency meeting on foot and mouth disease in East Asia

In view of the appearance of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the Republic of Korea, Japan, eastern Russia, Mongolia and Taipei China, an Emergency Meeting of Experts was organised in Tokyo, Japan, from 20 to 22 June 2000, by the OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific.

Experts from Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Taipei China, United Kingdom and the United States of America participated in the meeting. Representatives from Hong Kong, China, as well as from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the OIE World Reference Laboratory for FMD and the Regional Coordination Unit for FMD Control in South-East Asia, also attended.

After reviewing the FMD situation in each country or territory where outbreaks of the disease occurred in recent months, the following subjects were discussed:

  1. Comparative studies on FMD virus strains in East Asia;
  2. The epidemiology of these strains including the origin;
  3. Technical standards for diagnosis and surveillance;
  4. Measures for the prevention/control/eradication of FMD including the re-establishment of freedom from FMD status; and
  5. Subjects for international collaboration.

The following conclusions were drawn and recommendations made:

Conclusions

1. There are at least two distinct strains of type O FMD virus circulating in East Asia. One of these is a pig adapted strain, and is present in Taipei China and Hong Kong, China, as well as some other countries in South-East Asia. The other strain is responsible for recent outbreaks in the People's Republic of China, Taipei China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and Mongolia. This strain is not specific to a particular species, but has been recovered from sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. Its diagnosis has been made difficult by its ability to infect Taiwan yellow and Japanese Holstein cattle without causing clinical signs.

2. Recognising that additional studies are necessary, circumstantial evidence indicates that the importation of hay from the People's Republic of China may be a factor in the simultaneous outbreaks of FMD in the Republic of Korea and Japan. Additional risk factors identified for the Republic of Korea are travel by persons to and from endemic areas, contaminated fomites or products and wind-borne virus. The outbreaks of FMD in Taipei China in 1999 and Mongolia in 2000 were probably due to the illegal movement of live infected animals from neighbouring countries, and the outbreak in eastern Russia to the feeding of pigs with infected products illegally imported from the People's Republic of China or other countries.

3. Further research is essential to study the specific epidemiology of FMD in East Asia, to improve methods of diagnosis and review the guidelines for the re-establishment of FMD free status.

Recommendations

  1. For the control or prevention of FMD in Asia, it is essential to have more precise and up-to-date information on the FMD situation in the People's Republic of China and Democratic Republic of Korea. Relevant international organisations are requested to explore the possibility of gathering more information from those countries. The OIE is requested to encourage all the countries in Asia to become full members of the OIE as soon as possible, so as to be able to apply the OIE rules and recommendations to all the countries in the region.
  2. It is recommended that the OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific collect FMD information in East Asia on a monthly basis, and that annual meetings of the East Asian Group be held in order to review and coordinate activities for the prevention and control of FMD in the region.
  3. Epidemiological surveillance systems for FMD should be established in all the Member Countries in the region by strengthening the national and provincial laboratories and by training field staff for epidemiological investigation methods. As a part of epidemiological studies, systematic case studies should be carried out on infected farms to determine the source of the infection.
  4. In view of the fact that animal feeds, such as forage, straw and hay are considered to be a possible source of FMD outbreaks in some of the countries in East Asia, risk analysis methods including risk management techniques for these feed materials should be developed as soon as possible.
  5. Bio-security laboratories in East Asia should be further strengthened in accordance with international standards and expanded in order to meet ever increasing needs for surveillance/monitoring of exotic diseases and for research and development work on new emerging diseases.
  6. There is an urgent need for differential diagnosis by enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) technology of type O virus strains common in this region. Internationally collaborated efforts are recommended in order to develop such a test.
  7. Future research should address not only fundamental research on the epidemiology of FMD, such as the role of carrier animals, but also the specific requirements for the region, such as the low level of aerosol spread of local strains of virus, the use of monoclonal antibodies and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to distinguish between strains, and the use of non structural protein (NSP) antibody tests for the establishment of FMD freedom status.

For further information, please contact the OIE Regional Representation
for Asia and the Pacific at the following address:

East 311, Shin Aoyama Bldg
1-1-1 Minami Aoyama
Minato-Ku
Tokyo 107-0062
JAPON
Tel.: (81.3) 54 11 05 20
Fax: (81.3) 54 11 05 26
E-mail: oietokyo@tky.3web.ne.jp / rr.asiapacific@oie.int

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