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Mercosur Countries: regional agreement on foot and mouth disease (FMD) control under the auspices of the OIE

Argentina , Brazil and Paraguay agreed yesterday to a 15km zone of intensive surveillance along their common borders, under the incentive of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). A further 15 km zone of intensive surveillance and disease control will be added to the intensive surveillance zone.

The agreement comes as result of a joint evaluation mission of best renowned OIE FMD experts and the OIE Reference Laboratory for FMD for the Americas (the Pan American Centre for Foot and Mouth Disease - PANAFTOSA) to Argentina , Brazil and Paraguay in December 2006. The conclusions of the mission indicated that FMD virus was still circulating along the shared borders of the three countries.

In this perspective, the OIE proposed the three countries commit to apply intensive sanitary vigilance in the zone, which encompasses small area along their shared borders. In this defined zone the identification of each animal, control of all movements of animal and animal products and vaccination of all susceptible animals will be applied. The application of the joint agreement will be closely followed by the OIE, with support of PANAFTOSA and the Joint Committee for Foot and mouth disease control in the Region (CVP).

Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE commented: “The actions carried out in this zone will be under international control. This historical decision paves the way for the eradication of the disease in the sub-region and for the establishment of a Regional Commission for the control of FMD, under the auspices of the OIE. A similar commission in South-East Asia , SEAFMD, already successfully operates since 1998”.

“It should also be an incentive for other sub-regions to move quickly towards regional approach policies for disease control”, he added.

In the agreement Argentina , Brazil and Paraguay sacrifice a small portion of their territory that will not be at present included within the areas to be officially declared free with vaccination from FMD by the OIE. This regional approach will help resolve the unstable sanitary situation along their shared borders and will also ensure the continuation of trade activities, even in case of outbreaks in the intensive surveillance zone.

Background information

In the early 1990s, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) received a mandate from its International Committee, composed of the Delegates of OIE Member Countries, to draw up a list of Member Countries, or zones within countries, officially recognised as free from certain specific diseases.

The procedure applies to four priority diseases: foot and mouth disease (FMD), rinderpest, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) .

Each year, at the OIE General Session in Paris , the status of Member Countries in regard to these diseases is reviewed and, where appropriate, ratified and published.