XXXV International Congress on History of Veterinary Medicine, Grugliasco (Turin), Italy, September 8-11, 2004




V. Kouba

Formerly: Animal Health Officer (Veterinary Intelligence), Senior Officer (Veterinary Services) and Chief, Animal Health Service, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation; Editor-in-Chief, FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook



The backbone of the United Nations global animal health information system was FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook  Programme founded by Dr H.O. Konigshofer in 1958 as an integral component of the FAO global information system. It was providing official information from individual countries on animal diseases which were of international interest due to their socio-economic and public health consequences and importance for both international and domestic trade. FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook Programme  belongs today only to the history. In 1996 after four decades of servicing satisfactorily to all the countries in the world, the yearbook disappeared  due to not-easy-understandable reasons.


The data were collected using a particular questionnaire sent every autumn by Director General, FAO to all the member country governments and to FAO Representatives and by Chief, Animal Health Service to all Chief Veterinary Officers together with necessary instructions. The deadline for sending filled questionnaire to FAO HQs was by the end of February next year. The deadline for submitting completely edited new yearbook to printing factory in Napoli was the end of May to be in distribution at the beginning of July. The Chief-Editors of the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook being also responsible officers for FAO-UN global animal health information system were as follows: Drs H. Konigshofer (Switzerland), V. Kouba (Czechoslovakia), M. Bellver-Gallent (Spain), L. Velloso (Brazil), P. Finelle (France) and  Dr V.R. Welte (Brazil). The Assistants to Editor were: Silvia Jessi-Galletti (Uruguay). Laura Contaldi (Peru), Egiziana Fragiotta (Italy) and Barbara Tagliatti (Italy).


The number of annual reports  was increasing from about one hundred at the beginning up to 165 countries in 1990 informing on 142 diseases (16 of the List A, 95 of the List B and 31 of the List C).


 The yearbook started with following data and components:  tables on animal diseases, number of livestock, human population and veterinarians according to individual countries; main changes in epizootiological situation, types of the virus of FMD identified at Pirbright World Reference Laboratory, report of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease and  report of Pan American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Centre. Data on livestock and human populations were obtained from Statistic Division, FAO HQs (FAO Production Yearbook) and thus it was avoided to be published different values of the same indicator in FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook. (Using different sources cannot avoid publishing different values, as it is today).


Considering the results of global opinion surveys and thanks to FAO HQs initiatives, the contents of the yearbook was gradually enlarged by further types of information useful for member-country governments:

- From 1982: Reports of the FAO Regional Production and Health Commission for Asia and Pacific (APHCA) on FMD in Asia and Western Pacific. Professional and technical veterinary manpower (number of veterinarians - total, government, laboratory/university and private veterinarians; number of animal health auxiliary personnel – total, animal health assistants, field assistants or vaccinators and involved in food hygiene);  number of animal deaths caused by disease (experimental table using data of selected countries), total food losses caused by animal diseases (experimental table), number of  born and death due to natural causes and editor's note defining disease incidence and prevalence.

- From 1984: news from World Health Organization (WHO) - Veterinary Public Health, list of FAO Reference Laboratories for emergency diseases, list of FAO Reference Laboratories and list of FAO/WHO Collaborating Centers. (In 1986 – previous experimental tables were abolished).

- From 1987: list of FAO publications and documents on animal health and list of FAO reports on animal health meetings.

- From 1988: experimental tables on animal natality and natural mortality, FAO/WHO Experimental Table – Cases of animal diseases (zoonoses) in human population, report of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, report of the Organization of African Unity/FAO Pan African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC), list of FAO field veterinary and other projects backstopped by the Animal Health Service as well as list of software packages related to animal population, veterinary economics, management and  epizootiology.

- From 1989: report on the FAO Animal Health Service activities, report of FAO Regional Offices: for Africa (RAFR), Latin America and the Caribbean (RLAC),  Asia and the Pacific (RAPA) and Near East (RNE); report on West Asia Rinderpest Eradication Campaign (WAREC), lists of FAO/WHO and WHO/FAO Collaborating Centres, list of WHO Zoonoses Centres and WHO Collaborating Centres.

- From 1990: Report of Screwworm Emergency Centre for North Africa (SECNA); report of the International Office of Epizootics (OIE); list of Institutions of the FAO Technical Cooperation Network on Animal Production and Health Biotechnology.


The country tables on animal diseases were divided according to 8 geographical groups, each subdivided into 8 pages (A-H). Initial disease codes were based on the symbols identified by a capital letter with a small letter (e.g. FMD = Aa). In 1985 it was introduced a new computerized system using updated disease classification according the  disease Lists A, B and C: list type and three digit number (e.g. FMD = A010). This new disease classification  was elaborated during 1982-1985 to be used uniformly by all three participating international inter-governmental organizations. This classification facilitated in decisive manner also the computerization. The new disease code system was developed and further improved by OIE Specialists of Animal Health Information System  Drs. P. Acha (Peru), R.Morris (New Zealand) and V. Kouba (Czechoslovakia) together with Drs Mc Callon (USA) and V. Caporale (Italy) assisted by the Secretariat of the OIE – L. Blajan (France), Director General, V.R. Welte (Brazil) and T. Chillaud (France).


Data on the diseases were subdivided according to  susceptible animal species or species groups: cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, camelidae, equidae, birds,  hares/rabbits,  bees, dogs, cats, fur-bearing animals (in farms), wild fauna, fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Country reports tables were grouped according to the continents, i.e. Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.


For disease occurrence were used symbols  characterizing epizootiological situation:  never reported,  not reported, year of last occurrence, suspected but not confirmed, exceptional occurrence, low sporadic occurrence, enzootic, high occurrence, serological evidence and/or isolation of causative agent (no clinical disease), disease exists - distribution and occurrence unknown,  confined to certain regions, ubiquitous, recognized in country for the first time, only in imported animals (quarantine) and no information available. Absolute data were not used due to the fact that the real numbers of disease cases were not known *). Strongly underreported numeric unreliable data (garbage in, garbage out) confuse decision-maker facilitating diseases spreading through international trade due to underestimating their risk. Disease occurrence symbols system extremely important for necessary epizootiological analyses, including the cases of animal disease import, unfortunately disappeared together with the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook being replaced by one almost not interpretable cross “+” in OIE World Animal Health yearbook.


*) Example: “It is assume that, for every case of salmonellosis recorded in humans in the United States, at least nine are not reported.” Toma et al.: Dictionary of Veterinary Epidemiology, Iowa State University Press, 1999, p. 147.


For disease control measures following symbols were used:  control of non-vertebrate vectors, control of wildlife reservoirs, prohibition of import from infected countries, control programme for only some areas of the country or certain types of breeding, control programme for the whole country, quarantine, movement control and other precautions at frontier and inside the country, quarantine and other precautions at frontier, quarantine measures and movement control inside the country, stamping-out policy, modified stamping-out policy, treatment, testing, voluntary testing,  vaccination, vaccination prohibited and notifiable disease.


Lists of diseases were subdivided according to their importance and animal species: The most dangerous diseases were located in the List A diseases:  foot-and-mouth disease (FMD),  FMD - virus O,  FMD - virus A,  FMD - virus C,  FMD - virus SAT 1,  FMD - virus SAT 2,  FMD - virus SAT 3,  FMD - virus Asia 1,  FMD - virus not typed, vesicular stomatitis (VS), VS - virus Indiana,  VS - virus New Jersey,  VS - virus not typed,  swine vesicular disease,  rinderpest,  peste des petits ruminants,  contagious bovine pleuropneumonia,  lumpy skin disease,  Rift Valley fever,  bluetongue,  sheep pox and goat pox,  African horse sickness,  African swine fever,  hog cholera,   fowl plague and  Newcastle disease.


List B diseases were introduced by multiple species diseases:  anthrax, Aujeszky's disease, echinococcosis / hydatidosis,  heartwater,  leptospirosis,  Q fever, rabies,  paratuberculosis and  from 1989 also screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax).


List B cattle diseases included:   anaplasmosis,  babesiosis,  bovine brucellosis (B. abortus), bovine genital campylobacteriosis,  bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis),  cysticercosis (C. bovis) ,  dermatophilosis, enzootic bovine leukosis, haemorrhagic septicaemia, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (lBR/IPV), theileriosis, trichomoniasis,  trypanosomiasis,  bovine malignant catarrh and from 1990  also bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).


List B sheep and goat   diseases included:  ovine epididymitis (Brucella ovis), caprine and ovine brucellosis (B. melitensis),  caprine arthritis/encephalitis, contagious agalactia,  contagious caprine pleuropneumonia,  enzootic abortion of ewes,  pulmonary adenomatosis, Nairobi sheep disease, salmonellosis (S.abortus  ovis), scrapie and   maedi-visna.


List B horse diseases included:  contagious equine metritis, dourine, epizootic lymphangitis,  equine encephalomyelitis, equine infectious anaemia,  equine influenza (virus type A),  equine piroplasmosis (babesiosis),  equine rhinopneumonitis, glanders, horse pox, infectious arteritis of horses, Japanese encephalitis, horse mange,  surra and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis.


List B pig diseases included: atrophic rhinitis, cysticercosis (C. cellulosae), porcine brucellosis (B.suis), transmissible gastroenteritis of pigs, trichinellosis, enterovirus encephalomyelitis, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.


List B poultry diseases included:  avian infectious bronchitis,  avian infectious laryngotracheitis, avian tuberculosis,  duck virus hepatitis,  duck virus enteritis (duck plague), fowl cholera, fowl pox, fowl typhoid (S. gallinarum),  infectious bursal disease (Gumboro disease),  Marek's disease, mycoplasmosis (M. gallisepticum), psittacosis and ornithosis and pullorum disease (S. pullorum).


List B lagomorphs diseases included:  myxomatosis, tularaemia and viral haemorrhagic disease of rabbits.


List B fish diseases included: viral haemorrhagic septiceamia, spring viraemia of carp, infectious heamatopoietic necrosis, epizootic heamatopoietic necrosis and Oncorhynchus masou virus disease.


List B mollusc diseases included: bonamiosis, haplosporidiosis, perkinsosis, marteiliosis, iridovirosis and microcytosis (Mykrocytos mackini).


List B bee diseases included: acariasis of bees, American foul brood, European foul brood, nosematosis of bees and varroasis.


List B diseases of other animal species: leishmaniasis.


List C included following diseases: Multiple species diseases: listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, melioidosis, blackleg , botulism, other clostridial infections, other pasteurelloses, actinomycosis, intestinal Salmonella infections, coccidiosis, distomatosis (liver fluke) and filariasis. Cattle diseases: mucosal disease/bovine virus diarrhoea, vibrionic dysentery and warble infestation. Sheep and goat diseases: contagious pustular dermatitis, foot-rot, contagious ophthalmia, enterotoxaemia, caseous lymphadenitis and sheep mange. Horse diseases: equine coital exanthema, ulcerative lymphangitis, strangles and salmonellosis (S. abortus equi). Pig diseases:  swine erysipelas. Poultry diseases: infectious coryza, avian encephalomyelitis, avian spirochaetosis, avian salmonellosis (excluding fowl typhoid and pullorum disease) and avian leukosis. Dog and cat diseases: Canine distemper.


Due to the fact that the World Health Organization did not monitor and disseminate information on zoonoses in human populations, it was officially agreed between WHO and FAO that the programme of FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook would collect and publish this type of data dealing with human health. In 1988 so called “FAO/WHO Experimental Table – Cases of animal diseases (zoonoses) in human population (as officially reported to Ministry of Health)” was introduced. This required Chief Veterinary Officers to contact national Ministry of Health and collect relevant data to include them in the annual questionnaire for the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook to be sent to FAO HQs. The cases of following zoonoses in man were monitored: Rift Valley fever, anthrax, echinococcosis-hydatidosis, leptospirosis, Q fever, rabies, screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax), bovine tuberculosis, bovine cysticercosis, glanders, Japanese encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, porcine cysticercosis, trichinellosis, avian chlamydiosis, tularaemia, leishmaniosis, listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, swine erysipelas, brucellosis and salmonella infections. This extremely important table disappeared with the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook in 1996 without being replaced in immediately following OIE global animal health information system.


 All texts were in English, French and Spanish. Introduction text and symbols definitions  were also in Arabic, Russian, Chinese and German. Chinese government was translating the whole FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook into Chinese language and these issues were printed by the FAO in the same form.


There were many three language Explanatory Notes (e.g. 981 in 1979) commenting data on disease diagnosis, occurrence and control measures.


In order to  introduce the uniformity of animal population morbidity terms used in the text of this Yearbook a particular Editor’s Note was attached from 1983. It was defining exactly (i.e. expressed scientifically - mathematically) the terms of disease prevalence rates and incidence rates respecting time aspects and giving practical examples to avoid any misunderstanding. These so important precise international definitions also disappeared together with the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook in 1996 without being replaced in following OIE global animal health information system.


Deadlines: sending filled out yearbook questionnaires to FAO HQs, Rome by the end of February; editorial processing and sending final version to printing factory in Napoli by the end of May following by the distribution in July. There were produced up to 6500 copies every year. The majority was distributed free of charge to all: FAO, WHO and OIE member country governments, Chief Veterinary Officers, veterinary faculties, FAO and WHO animal health reference laboratories and collaborating centres, institutions of major international importance and selected international specialists. The rest was left for FAO Distribution and Sales Section.


In 1996 FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook programme disappeared. Information on FAO animal health activities was modified  and transferred to Internet pages. Global animal health information system was left only with the OIE publishing World Animal Health yearbook beside information on  shorter periods and emergency situation. The OIE abolished without any professional, logical and practical justification and without any replacement all useful indicators on animal population diseases’ occurrence, including the reports on cases of diseases/pathogens imports and on diseases discovered for the first time.







1958 - 1977  H.O. K o n i g s h o f e r  (Switzerland)

1978 - 1983  V. K o u b a (Czechoslovakia),

1984              V. K o u b a (Czechoslovakia) and

                                                                             M. B e l l v e r - G a l l e n t (Spain)

1985 - 1986  M. B e l l v e r - G a l l e n t  (Spain)

1987              V. K o u b a (Czechoslovakia) and

                                                                             L. V e l l o s o  (Brazil)

1988              L. V e l l o s o  (Brazil)

1989              P. F i n e l l e (France),

1990              M. B e l l v e r - G a l l e n t (Spain)

1991 - 1995  V.R. W e l t e  (Brazil)






Year                Number of Country Reports               Number   of   Animal   Diseases


                                                                                 Total          List  A            List  B             List C


1960                          106                                            99

1965                          123                                            99

1970                          141                                            99

1975                          156                                            99

1980                          163                                            99

1985                          151                                          127              16                  79                  32

1990                          165                                          142              16                  95                  31

1995                          132                                          127              15                  80                  32