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Improvement in animal health status in the Americas

The 15th Conference of the Regional Commission for the Americas of the Office International des Epizooties was held in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) from 6 to 10 March 2000.

Animal health status in this region is steadily improving, especially with regard to foot and mouth disease, which is still absent in North America, Central America, the West Indies, the Guyanas, Chile, Uruguay and part of Colombia, all territories where vaccination against the disease is not practised. Some South American territories (Argentina, southern states of Brazil, and Paraguay) have eradicated the disease, but still practise vaccination or have only ceased to do so since 1999.

Classical swine fever is, unfortunately, still highly prevalent in Latin America, where it was reported in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Some countries have launched an eradication programme.

Newcastle disease, reported in domestic or wild birds in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Venezuela, is also a cause for concern for veterinarians and for the aviculture sector.

Furthermore, glanders was diagnosed in horses in the States of Pernambuco and Alagoas in Brazil in December 1999, and clinical cases of West Nile virus were recorded in horses, wild birds and humans in the outskirts of New York, the United States of America.

To better control brucellosis, the OIE Member Countries of the Americas resolved to strengthen coordination of their programmes for surveillance and control of the disease in cattle, by implementing the most rapid and reliable diagnostic methods and by using more effective vaccines. Through the latter, it should be possible to more clearly distinguish between the vaccinated and the infected animals, thus also facilitating prophylaxis operations.

Two other diseases of concern for the Americas were discussed in Cartagena.

Vesicular stomatitis is a problem, mainly because of its possible confusion with foot and mouth disease: a programme will thus be established to strengthen epidemiological surveillance on a regional level.

The Cochliomyia hominivorax myiase is a formidable parasitosis due to the penetration of the fly’s larvae in the muscles of animals or humans. The area of disease spread is increasing dangerously in tropical America. Through a joint effort on the part of the countries concerned it should, however, be possible to control its spread by applying a method that has largely proved successful in Mexico: the release of male flies sterilised by irradiation that interferes with the normal reproductive cycle and results in the total disappearance of the flies.

The following conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas will be held in Chile in March 2002.