Review articles  for Agricultura tropica et subtropica, Czech University of the Life Sciences Prague:

1. Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – facilitating factors

2. Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – infection monitoring


3. Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – sanitary requirements


1. Agricultura tropica et subtropica, 48/1-2, 37-43. 2015

Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – facilitating factors

Václav Kouba

Department of Animal Science and Food Processing in Tropics and Subtropics,

Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life sciences Prague, Czech Republic

Former Chief, Animal Health Service, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy




The worldwide trade in non-pathogen-free animals and their products has led to irreparable global spread of animal infections. Among factors supporting this spread belong: countless pathogen species able to reproduce and spread horizontally and to the next generations causing immense number of sufferings and premature deaths of affected animals and humans; increasing long distance export of animals and their products due also to not requiring by relevant international organizations healthy and innocuous pathogen-free commodities; illegal export/import of animals and their products; deficiencies related to diagnosis of pathogen-free s0tatus; inability to discover all imported infections, to control and eradicate them; international sanitary certificates without pathogen-free guarantee; inability of public animal health services  to control on the spot the international trade with animal commodities; minimum of successful animal infection eradications  and absence of information on global spreading of pathogens to alert the countries in question. Huge daily flow of exported non-pathogen-free animal commodities conduces to permanent deterioration of global epizootiological situation.  Irreparable man-made global spread of invisible pathogens with continuous multiplying sanitary, economic, social and ecological consequences represents worldwide ecological disaster contributing to shortening earth life survival, including self-destruction of humankind. Extraordinary existential significance requires international control of epizootics to be dealt with at the highest decision-making level of the United Nations Organization.


Key words: diagnosis deficiency; planet ecological disaster; humankind survival; life survival; global bioterror; global pathogenic microflora;, eradications, innocuous commodity, pathogen-free status, sanitary certificates.



The global spread of pathogens through international trade is due to mass export of animals that are not pathogen-free and their products. This difficult-to-solve problem is arising from the peculiarities of pathogens as biological dynamic phenomena and human activities giving priority to economic profit at the expense of health in importing countries. The introduction of pathogens is easy (even in a moment) but their eradication is very difficult if not impossible. The imported invisible pathogens are able to reproduce and spread horizontally and vertically causing to actual and future generations of animals and humans incalculable numbers of sufferings and premature deaths with sanitary, economic, social and ecologic serious to catastrophic consequences. Imported pathogens signify in a specific disease free country long-distance spread (possibly also inter-continental) or post-eradication reappearance thus depreciating the work of previous generations of experts, and in specific affected territories worsening of the epizootiological situation. Imported pathogen spread represents multiplying and continuing consequences unknown in any other trade commodity. Thus, paradoxically, in spite of rapidly increasing scientific knowledge, the situation in the world is getting worse as never. The analysis is based on official data related to legal trade as reported by the governments to international organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Office of Epizootics (OIE) and World Trade Organization (WTO). Other sources are represented by several selected publications such as of Blancou et al. (1995). Experience of the author as former United Nations officer and Editor, FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook has been considered as well.


The term “pathogen” used in the text means an infectious agent - a microorganism such a virus, bacterium, prion, fungus and protozoan as well as parasite, causing transmissible disease in its host – animal or human.


Enormous number of uncontrolled pathogen and animal species

Nobody knows how many species of pathogens exist, and a vast number of them is uncontrollable. Some pathogens are on the list of biological weapons (e.g. Bacillus anthracis). The pathogens are extremely complex dynamic biological phenomena with infinite variability and in permanent unpredictable development. About one thousand pathogen species causing infections in animals have been described, including almost two hundred transmissible to humans. Many of them have a series of subtypes which differ from one another. All pathogens are able to change their characteristics, e.g. through passages in susceptible populations increasing their virulence (e.g. becoming reproduction interrupters or even killers), creating new serotypes through mutation, etc.  Thus different strains continue to emerge. Particular problems are related to conditionally pathogenic agents and new emerging diseases, i.e. unknown pathogens being not detected before the export of specifically infected animal commodities. Pathogens as living organisms have their origin and extinction.  


Examples: Salmonella enterica has more than one thousand serovars; foot and mouth disease virus has 7 immunologically distinct types: O, A, C, SAT-1, SAT-2, SAT-3 and Asia-1 (with more than 60 subtypes).


The imported pathogens spread due to human interventions or naturally (e.g. through wild animals). The pathogens spread at different speed and extent, often unnoticed thanks to sub-clinical “carriers”. Communicable diseases outside of animal health control can be exported and spread almost freely (unnoticed). The grade of spread can be measured by the “post-import ratio primary/secondary outbreaks”. Some pathogens are able to penetrate even the barriers of the best isolated and controlled laboratories.


Examples: In Taiwan in 1997 imported foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus stormed the whole island during four months; the post-import ratio reached 1 : 6,147. FMD virus escaped from Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center, New York, USA on September 15,1978  and from FMD Word Reference Laboratory - Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory, United Kingdom in 2007.


Imported pathogens can spread via different forms of transmission such as direct (contact), indirect via contaminated inanimate objects (e.g. water, feedstuff, instruments, etc.), chained, branched, radial, from very slow up to very fast, from local up to territorial, short-term or in phases or continuous, with arithmetic to exponential progression etc.. Some pathogens are able to cause a specific disease in more animal species creating very complex post-import problems. The control and eradication of imported pathogens in wild animals is much more difficult than in the domestic ones, if feasible at all. Even worse situation can occur when imported pathogens create a long-lasting natural reservoir.


Example: Imported African swine fever (ASF) virus in Sardinia, Italy in 1978 penetrated from domestic pigs in wild boar population creating natural reservoir and the virus is still circulating there threatening mainly European countries. In spite of this Italy increased pork export many times (e.g. 1980 – 1,221 MT; 2000 – 50,179 MT).

The present known occurrence of transmissible diseases represents only a “tip of the iceberg”. The real epizootiological situation in the whole world is unknown.

No one knows how many species of animals exist on Earth. This paper deals only with a few vertebrate terrestrial species (from a total of known 5,416 mammals and 9,956 birds). The number of described species of amphibians has reached 6,199 and of reptiles 8,240 (IUCN 2007). When considering enormous number of pathogen and of animal species, then it can be understood that their poly-etiological interactions are uncontrollable.

Increasing international trade in animal commodities

Increasing spread of pathogens follows the size of international trade in animal commodities. Between 1990 and 2010 the reported number of exported cattle increased 1.3 times, that of exported pigs 2.8 times (Graph 1) and of exported chickens 3.2 times. In 2010, the daily average number of exported animals reached 29,278 heads of cattle, 102,252 pigs, 3,791,000 chickens, 13,868 tons of beef and veal, 12,967 tons of pork and 28,576 tons of poultry meat (Tables 1 and 2). A similar export increase was reported also in several other species of animals and their products. The increase has been also due to relevant international organizations not requiring pathogen-free export. Illegal export of animal commodities must be added to these numbers.

Example: “The magnitude of the global movement of animals is staggering. In terms of sheer numbers, 37,858,179 individually counted live amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles were legally imported to the United States from 163 countries in 2000–2004. For the most of these animals, there are no requirements for zoonotic disease screening either before or after arrival into the United States.“ (Marano N. et al. 2007)

Over time, animal transport has changed: from slow (time for clinical manifestation of pathogen carriers after incubation period) and controlled by public services to speedy (even in one day) almost uncontrollable by these services; from limited to enormous numbers of animal commodity origin, destination and distribution localities and territories very difficult to control; from limited up to inter-continental distances – anywhere on the planet etc. (see Map 1). The trade used to have much more demanding import sanitary conditions and was under much stricter control by much better staffed, equipped and organized public services. The present huge global international trade in animal commodities, without strict uncompromising public animal health service control not admitting export of pathogens, is causing mass introduction of animal communicable diseases into importing countries.


Table 1. Global numbers of selected domestic animals exported in 1990, 2000 and 2010 in the world, FAOSTAT 2014










































































Table 2. Quantity and value of exported fresh meat in 2000 and 2010 in the world, FAOSTAT 2014




























1 858 327

3 845 812 000

  5 061 898

23 388 989 000


  13 868


2 300 211

3 578 863 000

  4 733 033

15 450 011 000


  12 967


5 915 086

6 069 528 000

10 430 348

18 011 632 000


  28 576




Deficiencies related to diagnosis of pathogen-free status of animal commodities

There are not any fully reliable indirect diagnostic methods for etiological diagnosis such as clinical, serological, allergy, etc. They have certain error grade not being able to detect all animals – pathogen carriers or all animal products containing pathogens. The grade of false negative results can be estimated when knowing the values of sensitivity and specificity. Their knowledge is of paramount importance for international trade in animal commodities. Animals – pathogen carriers, considered as specifically healthy due to false negative results, are the most dangerous for pathogen spread.


Note: Dr J. Blancou, DG OIE in a letter dated 18 September 1998 refused this author’s proposal to include sensitivity/specificity values in all indirect diagnostic methods described in otherwise excellent “OIE Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines”. 


The possibility of human errors and diagnosis errors should be also considered when using: non-standard (non-uniform) methods and tools (objective errors), when different investigators using the same methods report different results in the same animals or samples (subjective errors), when methods with low sensitivity and specificity are used, when logical interpretation of the results in missing, etc. Post-import infection discovery delay due to incubation periods can be of several days, weeks, months or even years. The importing country specialists have often more demanding criteria than the exporting country ones when interpreting diagnostic test results.


Example: In the 1960s, atrophic rhinitis was detected by X-ray examination among breeder boars imported from Sweden to Czechoslovakia. Swedish authorities refused to take the animals back and sent Professor Swan who did not agree with the diagnosis to the country; autopsies (attended also by this author) confirmed the disease and the Sweden returned the money paid.


Etiological diagnosis usually requires expensive laboratory investigations. The diagnosis confirming wholesomeness of the exported commodity (pathogen-free status) is much more demanding than the discovery of specific diseases. Due to economic reasons the frequency of etiological investigations has been significantly reduced instead of being extended.


Example: Prof. Caporale, former President, OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases wrote in 1994: "The need to remove technical obstacles to the free circulation of animals and their products"; "It is not longer possible to apply the old system under which animals and animal products had to come from specific free zones, and were subjected to isolation, quarantine, inspection and diagnostic testing before and after export."


Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), hygienic control method, cannot discover invisible pathogens in animal products. Therefore, the knowledge of epizootiological situation in the herd/flock of origin is of extraordinary importance.

International animal health certificates without pathogen-free guarantee

OIE certificates are only informative documents without any written guarantee as is usual for any other items. Thus the exporter cannot be responsible for non-pathogen-free export. The investigating and certificating officer can sign anything while not being supervised by public service inspection on the spot. There have been many cases when specific diseases have been introduced into a (disease) "free country" in spite of certification according to OIE Code (not requiring guarantee of full sanitary innocuousness, i.e. pathogen-free status). This type ofcertificate” does not inform the importers what is guaranteed sanitary and what is not. This complicates any claims concerning import of pathogens. In spite of this, they must pay as for a pathogen-free commodity. Different pathogens have different importance. But in 1998, the OIE abolished classification of internationally notifiable animal diseases according to their importance (e.g. Group A included killing diseases).

OIE texts supporting trade without pathogen-free guarantee mention: "facilitate international trade by unimpeded flow of trade of animals and animal products" (Code 2001, Art.;” ensure unimpeded trade... (Code 2007, Art. and “Certifying veterinarians should only certify matters that are within their own knowledge at the time of signing the certificate, ...; have no conflict of interest in the commercial aspects of the animals or animal products being certified...” (Code 2007, Art. In OIE documents, many other texts can be found, unilaterally favouring exporting countries, such as: “The international veterinary certificate should not include requirements for the exclusion of pathogens or animal diseases ...”;“International veterinary certificates are intended to facilitate trade and should not be used to impede it by imposing unjustified health conditions”; It would be irresponsible and contrary to the principles of encouraging international trade to insist on guarantee as to the absence of commonly found infections that are present in the importing country.”; “inadmissible health protection measures”;  irresponsible behaviour of importing countries” etc.. Requiring full sanitary quality, i.e. healthy animals and innocuous products without pathogens, is according to OIE “unjustified sanitary barrier”. Sanitary barriers of importing country against pathogen introductions are targeted at exporting country diseases, not at pathogen-free commodities. Every case is different and therefore the certification should be based on bilateral agreement without any external interference or dictate. The importing countries need commodities free of organisms causing diseases. The OIE Code and its Glossary in 2014 (135 terms) does not even contain basic terms for trade conditions such as “healthy animal”, “innocuous animal product” or “pathogen-free”.

Examples: During 1990-1996 among 326 shipments of cattle (19,350 heads) imported to Czech Republic from western European countries were 181 (55.52%) found affected by infectious diseases including those not existing in the importing country such as paratuberculosis, bovine tuberculosis and hypodermosis. Simultaneously imported sheep introduced maedi-visna and scrapie (never diagnosed in the country before) also in spite of “international certificates”.

New Zealand managed to agree with European Union the following “Health attestation”: “I the undersigned hereby certify that the animal products herein described, comply with the relevant New Zealand public health standards and requirements which have been recognized as equivalent to the European Community standards and requirements as prescribed in Council Decision 97/132/EC, specifically, in accordance with the Animal Products Act 1999.” (i.e. guaranteeing nothing). OIE WAHID website dated 3 February 2007: Animal Health Situation - “New Zealand, Year 2005: No information”. How can be assessed the risk of pathogen introduction? (MacDiarmid, actual Secretary General, OIE Commission for the Terrestrial Animal Health Code, wrote in 1992: “Salmonellae are already widespread and common in New Zealand. … between 1 and 5 % of sheep and cattle are unapparent carriers).

According to OIE Code 2007, Article 1.2.1 “The Head of the Veterinary Service of the exporting country is ultimately accountable for veterinary certification used in international trade.”  This is just a theory when the certifications are carried out by private veterinarians who are not employees of government animal health service.

Absence of animal infection eradication programmes

Unfavourable epizootiological situation in exporting countries due to lack of eradication programmes is making it more difficult to find pathogen-free animal commodities to be exported. Among the reasons belong mainly: the lost of motivation owing to very benevolent WTO and OIE animal commodity trade conditions, lack of suitable and feasible eradication methods, difficulties of eradication programmes, lack of necessary resources such as staff, money and facilities, lack of public support, weak public animal health services etc. The international benevolent trade policy facilitating export of pathogens has allowed to prefer the cheapest and easiest “doing nothing” strategy against animal infections. On one side mass spreading of the pathogens through international trade and on the other side minimum or zero eradication programmes against imported diseases at first due to difficulties to detect and isolate them on time.

Example: European Union has not any time-bounded programme for the eradication of ASF imported in 1978 in Sardinia (only 12 km distance from France). “Doing nothing” policy (except papers) was in this case applied also by the OIE. This author was visiting the island and did not find any measures against ASF virus escape that happened in 2007 into Georgia (most probable hypothesis) continuing in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland.

Only one animal disease has been globally eradicated so far – rinderpest in 2010 after one century of very intensive, difficult and extraordinary costly international programme.

Weak public animal health services

During the 1990s, under the pressure from the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in almost all countries the role of governments and their services was substantially reduced. The OIE, being the international organization for epizootic control, accepted the above-mentioned policy minimizing public animal health services without any reaction. As a result, the epizootiological situation in the world has been deteriorating and the intensity of the global spread of pathogens has increased.


Example:”... the privatization of veterinary services, thus aiming at drastically diminishing the role of the state in these activities. Surveillance, early warning, laboratory diagnostic services, planning, regulation and management of disease control programme, as well as ensuring the quality and safety of animal products were secondary considerations. The chain of veterinary command that required notification of disease outbreaks enabling a response to disease emergency and which also ensured the management of national disease control programme, was often dismantled.”as stated by Rweyemamu and Astudillo (2003). Similar opinion was published by Ozawa et al. (2003).


Private veterinarians have been entrusted with a number of public service official activities. Compared with public service mission of responsibility for animal health protection (Griffiths et al. 1974), they are largely dependent on the breeder, producer and trader, who provide them with work. Therefore, they are easier to be corrupt, especially if they are not under direct public service control. The selection of private veterinarians for the “accreditation” is often not sufficiently demanding and based on proof of very good practical knowledge and skills.


Example: USA reported in OIE World Animal Health 1998, page 340: “The National Veterinary Accreditation Programme has almost 50 000 qualified veterinary practitioners who carry out official tests and vaccinations; conduct herd and flock health programmes; and prepare animal health certification. The USA in the same year reported 42,825 private veterinarians and 5,783 veterinarians in laboratories, universities and training institutions. 

Inability to control effectively animal commodity export represents the major gap in anti-pathogen-export filter. Certifying veterinarians practically have no any criminal or financial liability for false certificate. It is very difficult to detect invisible pathogens in imported commodities and to convince exporters when claiming this fault. Illegal export is difficult to control when government authorities and public services are unable to discover it.

Example: “A large United Kingdom rendering company continued and expanded its export of meat and bone meal, which may have been contaminated with BSE, for 8 years after EU ban in 1988, to 70 countries in the Middle and Far East.”(Hodges, 2001).

Not respecting a natural conflict of interest between government and private services the OIE in its documents does not distinguish this phenomenon equalling both services and thus contributing to degradation of already weak public services instead of strengthening them. The amount of their legislative and administrative work significantly limits the time left for their practical control activities. Only strong public services are able to organize national eradication programmes and effectively control the international trade.


Notes: Evaluation of global animal health workforce was not possible due to missing data in OIE WAHID (e.g. in 2013 from France, the key country dominating OIE from its foundation in 1924). This author initiated and edited a 141-page publication “Guidelines for Strengthening of Animal Health Services in Developing Countries”, FAO, 1991 (translated to Spanish and French).


Absence of an international organization requiring pathogen-free trade

The OIE as inter-governmental organizations outside the United Nations Organization played an important role before the era of globalization. Unfortunately, in the mid-nineties when became dominated by major exporting countries, it changed its programme. It became a sort of WTO servicing agency admitting export of pathogens leading to deterioration of the epizootiological situation in the world, i.e. in breach of its original and only mission for which it is responsible. The OIE, instead of consistently implementing its only duty as “international office of epizootics for the control of infectious animal diseases”, self-decided in May 2003, without any official clearances by all member country governments, to significantly expand its activities arguing that “the scope of the OIE’s missions has evolved beyond the prevention and control of epizootic diseases to include all animal health issues”.  Countless “other animal health issues” are not of OIE international responsibility. They are in competence of individual governments. Distracting global activities and attention from the epizootic control in time of world-wide epizootiological emergency, instead of concentrating them on OIE main duty, is hardly acceptable.  The OIE main policy during last two decades has been to facilitate trade also at the expense of health in importing countries. This can be once again documented by: “Import risk analysis is preferable to a zero risk approach” (Code Special Edition, 1997, art. This principle not requiring full quality is unknown in any other trade commodity.



Global consequences of two decades of officially admitting pathogen export by WTO and OIE are irreparable. Critical analysis of global poly-etiological pathogen spread through legal international trade is obviously not of interest of any international organization. Even in the OIE monographic publication “The spread of pathogens through international trade” (2011) is missing any word critically evaluating the impact of WTO and OIE trade policy. Illegal export/import of animal commodities outside of international information system cannot be the object of anti-epizootic control. Very few successful eradication programmes are far from being able to compensate huge daily flow of exported non-pathogen-free animal commodities conducing to continuous deterioration of animal population health situation in the world. It is obvious that the global epizootiological situation covering full spectrum of pathogen species is getting worse as never before.

There is an urgent need the world to be truthfully informed about pathogen spreading through international trade and on its consequences for the global health and life. The world should be alarmed not to admit continuation of actual international policy conducing to conscious man-made spread of pathogens. Continuous deterioration of global epizootiological situation requires to review actual international trade policy. Firstly, it is necessary to abolish without any delay all documents and provisions of relevant international organizations admitting or supporting spread of pathogens through trade and start applying normal fair trade policy requiring full sanitary quality of exported animal commodities, i.e. to be innocuous. Secondly, there is a need to transfer as quickly as possible the mandate of international epizootic control (including problems of pathogen spread through trade) into executive system of the United Nations Organization to be dealt at the highest decision-making level as one of the key problems of earth life and humanity surviving. Public animal health services to be significantly strengthened to be able to control effectively international trade as well as epizootiological situation.




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 DOI: 10.2478/ats-2014-0002 AGRICULTURA TROPICA ET SUBTROPICA, 47/4, 89-96, 2014


Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – infection monitoring


Václav Kouba

Department of Animal Science and Food Processing in Tropics and Subtropics,

Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life sciences Prague, Czech Republic

Former Chief, Animal Health Service, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy




Systematic monitoring of global spreading of pathogens through international trade is not carried out by any organization regulating global trade of animal commodities. Critical evaluation of the impact of international trade provisions on global pathogen spread is missing and thus avoiding their necessary corrections and effective global control of animal infections. Data related to this kind of analysis are not more internationally collected. Information on animal infection occurrence is of extraordinary importance for decision-making on animal health import conditions based on risk assessment of epizootiological situation in exporting countries. Actual international animal health information system covers only a very small part of known animal infections and provides much less information on their occurrence and epizootiological characteristics than before globalization era (except for a few selected emergency infections). It provides importing countries zero or insufficient data for objective risk assessment to can avoid pathogen introduction through international trade. There is an urgent need to re-establish international animal health information system within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as its inseparable component for executing animal health technical assistance programmes. Globalization era trade requires much more informative system including monitoring of global spreading of pathogenic microflora through trade as the basis for more effective anti-epizootic measures in the world.


Key words: animal commodity trade, global anti-epizootic programme, global bio-terrorism, global reportable infections, global information gaps,  global pathogen export,  global pathogenic microflora, global infection information, infection reporting, infection occurrence, notifiable diseases, disease risk assessment, 


1. Introduction

Global epizootiological situation is getting worse every day due to mass spreading of animal infection pathogens also through international trade in animals and animal products. This trade is internationally regulated by two organizations: World Trade Organization - WTO (“Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures – SPS Agreement”) and Office International of Epizootics – OIE, outside of United Nations Organization, (“Animal Health Codes”). Man-made spread of pathogens through international trade has not been by these organizations evaluated and therefore the member country governments and their inhabitants are not informed (alarmed) about irreparable sanitary consequences for the future of the world life. Necessary data for this analysis, to can evaluate the pathogen spread impact of the trade regulation provisions and to correct them, are not internationally collected. Immense negative sanitary, economic, ecologic and social consequences have been steadily growing. On the other hand, global animal disease eradication programmes do not exist, with exception of rinderpest global eradication in 2010 and of actually starting against foot-and-mouth disease and peste des petits ruminants.

Intergovernmental organizations can publish only officially reported data which reliability or completeness cannot be verified. The global collection, collation and publication of disease national occurrence data started in 1957 by the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook Information System under the responsibility of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This system was combined with previously established OIE information system. Up to 1996 both systems were mutually coordinated by a tripartite commission composed from leading officers of  three international organizations, including also World Health Organization (WHO). Then, the OIE took over the whole animal health information system and thus the FAO was deprived of necessary information for executing follow-up practical programmes (e.g. in 1990 FAO Animal Health Service was backstopping 218 field projects in about one hundred countries). The FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook, i.e. tripartite global information system, was abolished and replaced by only OIE system producing OIE World Animal Health yearbooks, eliminating the role of the FAO and WHO (even without mentioning them; only after author’s written intervention there were included in the following issues the logos of both UN organizations on internal cover page and nothing more.)


Fig. 1





Fig. 2



This paper documents serious gaps in this information system using data as reported by the governments or by Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) to the OIE to be published in OIE World Animal Health yearbook (WAH) of two volumes - Reports and Tables, on OIE websites – “Help with World Animal Disease Status” (HANDISTATUS II) and “World Animal Health Information Data” (WAHID) and up to 1996 also to FAO to be published in FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook.  There were available also OIE individual country reports and almost one thousand explanatory notes in FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook. Selected literature sources and personal experience of the author who was responsible for FAO global animal health information system  as former Animal Health Officer (Veterinary Intelligence) and Editor-in-Chief, FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook (1978-1983 and 1987) and OIE Expert for Information Systems, were considered as well.


Note: In this paper “infection” means the entry and development or multiplication of an infectious agent in the body of humans or animals. It includes also “infestation” – the external invasion or colonization of animals or their immediate surroundings by arthropods which may cause disease or are potential vectors of infectious agents (OIE Glossary).


2. Minimal knowledge on animal infection occurrence in exporting countries

Globalization of pathogen spread through trade depends firstly on epizootiological situation in exporting countries where present infections as sanitary hazards represent the risk for importing countries. Therefore, importing countries need as much as possible information on animal disease occurrence in exporting countries. The basis for infection situation knowledge depends first of all on primary reporting by animal owners being able to identify particular infection suspicion and on their willingness to report the case to animal health service. Many owners do not believe the possibility of infection occurrence and try to solve the problem themselves. They are often afraid to report the case to the authority with the risk of restrictive measures (e.g. herd isolation, exclusion from trade, sanitary slaughter, investigations, etc.). When the disease spreads on other animals then finally is called local animal health practitioner. Again it depends on his professional knowledge to be able to exclude particular infection suspicion or to confirm it. Sometimes he hesitates to report the case to public animal health authority and tries to solve the problem himself being afraid of eventual strict anti-epizootic measures and their consequences. Again when the disease spreads on other animals then is called public animal health officer who revises the diagnosis and measures. In case of doubt the specimens are sent to diagnostic laboratories for the confirmation of the preliminary diagnosis or for the exclusion of particular infection suspicion. It is obvious that the reporting to the national authorities has always certain delay. Delayed information, considering also incubation period, reduces its practical informative value when taking into account the dynamic of specific epizootic processes.



In United Kingdom delayed reporting foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in 2001 took about 3 weeks facilitating this infection spread through exported sheep certified as healthy in France and from there in Netherlands.  New Zealand in 2000 reported varroasis occurrence for the first time, in spite of  being imported years before (WAH 2000, page 20: “investigation suggested that the parasite had been introduced three or four years before”).  Modernization of the OIE information system caused enormous delay in issuing OIE World Animal Health yearbook 2005;   OIE 2007 Catalogue: “OIE World Animal Health 2005 is foreseen in March 2007”; in February 2008 only 2004 issue was available.


In case of confirmation of an internationally reportable disease the information is sent to relevant international organization for global dissemination. The above procedure is usually valid for clinically manifested cases representing in overwhelming majority of animal infections only very small part of all affected animals (pathogen carriers). Real epizootiological situation at country, continental and global levels is therefore unknown (exception in a few emergency diseases).  International trade in animals and animal products not considering this reality in exporting countries facilitates mass spreading of pathogens into importing countries being unable to assess objectively pathogen introduction risks to can identify effective protective conditions.

There were different approaches in collecting data on infection occurrence. FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook programme was collecting and publishing professional estimates while OIE World Animal Health yearbook also absolute numeric data. No country knows exactly the number of affected animals of all internationally reportable diseases. In some infections the ratio of real number of affected animals (pathogen carriers) to ad hoc reported cases can reach a multiple of very high values. Reported numeric data of majority exporting countries represented only "the tip of the iceberg".



 Toma et. al.(1999): "It is assumed that, for every case of salmonellosis recorded in humans in the United States, at least nine are not reported.” What about reporting in animal populations and in less developed countries?


Active surveillance based on mass specific investigation of animal herds and populations provides the best information on specific infection occurrence. After recent drastic reduction of government animal health services in the majority of countries due to minimizing their budgets (under the pressure of global financial institutions), this kind of surveillance almost disappeared and available information are based mainly on incomplete ad hoc reporting. Author’s proposal sent to OIE HQs (1/11/1994 and 16/12/1997) to include into the information system also the numbers of specific disease investigations was not accepted.

Relatively the most reliable and the most complete information on infection occurrence were available in countries with a strong, well organized and funded centrally managed government animal health services being independent on breeders, processing industry and merchants. The main tasks of these services were to protect the health at country population level through preventive, control and eradication measures supported by extensive free-of-charge surveillance investigations and through protection against pathogen introduction from abroad.


3. Incomplete reporting for global information system on animal infections

Many exporting countries sent incomplete reports making impossible importing countries to assess pathogen introduction risk through animal commodity trade. Country governments (Chief Veterinary Officers) before making any decision on sanitary conditions for import of animal commodities compares actual and previous epizootiological situation in exporting country with the situation at home which is known much better. There are not two countries having the same epizootiological situation and conditions for infection spread and control. The comparison is often problematic when comparing the occurrence of infection species only and not also their types or subtypes which are not subject of data international reporting (except of  few emergency infections). Importing country must consider also other aspects such as previous experience with a given exporting country to avoid notorious pathogen exporters. In case of missing data on exporting country infection occurrence then carrying out pathogen introduction objective risk assessment is impossible. Lack of necessary information opens “door” for poly-etiological pathogen import followed by post-import spreading of particular diseases.

Reliability and discrepancies of reported data represent other problems for pathogen import risk assessment. There have been available different data on the same phenomenon from different sources. The worse is when a particular country does not send any report.




WAHID website dated 1 June 2007: Animal health situation in 2006: “United States of America – No information.” Country sanitary situation in 2006: “There is no report for United States of America”. For the comparison of sanitary situation in 2005 between  importing countries and the New Zealand as exporting one: “There is no report for New Zealand” (WAHID website dated 3 February 2007) = comparison impossible.


In TOMA et al.: „In 1996, the annual incidence of brucellosis-infected herds in France was approximately 300“; however, the French Chief Veterinary Officer reported for OIE World Animal Health yearbook 1996: „number of bovine brucellosis new outbreaks = 582“? There were  discrepancies between  2003 data on cattle populations reported by Chief Veterinary Officers to OIE and by the governments to FAO: Canada – 1,206,000, France – 543,843, United Kingdom – 1,669,617, USA – 1,200,000 etc.. How can be calculated   the value of specific disease morbidity indicators such as incidence rates and/or prevalence rates requiring basic denominator values (number of animals)?  Which data were valid?  Author received e-mail explanation from E. D. Gillin, Chief, Basic Data Branch, Statistic Division, FAO, Roma: “Such differences in data will always arise whenever you have two different bodies handling two different databases. Even in the USDA there exist different data sets for the same phenomena”.  


Author recalls a case at the beginning 1980s when the report of Lesotho for FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook was missing; the government in Maseru answered FAO request: “Lesotho has not any animal infection.” That time both national veterinarians were working abroad.


4. Reduction of reported data on epizootiological situation in exporting countries

In OIE World Animal Health 1997 yearbook  appeared a "new" significantly reduced list of disease occurrence codes which meant the availability of much less information needed for decision-making, in particular for risk assessment when importing animal commodities, than before. The graduation symbols of disease occurrence estimates disappeared after decades of satisfactory practical application instead to be more developed for incoming globalization era.

The countries were accustomed to report without any difficulty required detailed data (as epizootiological estimates based on professional analysis of all available relevant data) on disease occurrence.

All disease occurrence symbols (see Tab. 1) were replaced by "+". The "new" symbol did not differentiate the disease occurrence value in a country (e.g. it could mean the disease in one imported animal only or in more than million animals). The member countries provide and obtain much less epizootiological information than before starting computer era. Evaluating codes related to disease introduction from abroad (pathogen globalization), reflecting also sanitary impact of international trade provisions of the WTO and OIE, were without any scientific justification eliminated.


Table 1. Original FAO/WHO/OIE disease occurrence symbols (before globalisation era)

 deleted by the OIE in 1996


  (+) Exceptional occurrence

  +   Low sporadic occurrence

  ++  Enzootic

  +++ High occurrence

  +.. Disease exists; distribution and occurrence unknown

  )(  Ubiquitous

  !   Recognised in country for the first time

  <=  Only in imported animals (quarantine).


Note: Author himself tried to analyse global frequency up to end of the 20th century of three selected codes: “Reported cases of disease/pathogen introduction in individual countries” – 1,319 reports; “Reported cases of newly introduced or reemerged specific animal diseases in individual countries (including only cases of 3 and more years intervals)” – 418 reports and “Cases of specific animal diseases reported in individual countries for the first time” – 485 reports. The analyses included also reports according to individual diseases and years.


Tab. 2.


Table 2. Country reports on the introduction of individual OIE list A diseases,

world, 1980-2000 (Kouba V.:



Number of reports







Foot and mouth disease




Vesicular stomatitis




Swine vesicular disease








Peste des petits ruminants








Lumpy skin disease




Rift Valley Fever








Sheep/goat pox




African horse sickness




African swine fever




Classical swine fever




Fowl plague




Newcastle disease













More in


The codes for reporting disease occurrence, instead to be maximized for new more demanding conditions of globalization era, were illogically minimized as follows: The codes for positive occurrence: "+"  Reported or known to occur; "+?” Serological evidence and/or isolation of causative agent, no clinical disease; an optional qualifier for the above two positive occurrence codes: “( )” Confined to certain zones”. The change started as one of  WTO/SPS follow-up actions. *)  Author’s protest was answered  by J. Blancou, Director General, OIE on 30 October 1998 that it was: "the result of discussions by eminent specialists on risk analysis… to can standardize risk assessment”. How could be carried out any disease import risk assessment without necessary information on disease occurrence in exporting country (source of trade sanitary hazards)? This step of the OIE reflected the influence of major exporting countries having not sufficient knowledge on national epizootiological situation at home and being afraid of pathogen export monitoring. Importing countries became “blind or semi-blind” when deciding on animal commodity imports. Minimizing information on exporting country situation has facilitated international trade at the expense of importing country health.


*) Report on the meeting of the OIE Working group on informatics and epidemiology, Paris 1-4 October 1996 .


OIE documents are full of references to “risk assessment” to be carried out by importing countries, however the author could not find infection spread risk assessment of any OIE official provisions, related to international trade, presented for  adoption to country delegates (selected, not elected officers) instead as intergovernmental organization to the member country elected governments. Why requiring importing country for “scientifically” and convincingly documented  risk  assessment when demanding for pathogen-free animal commodities? On the contrary, in normal fair trade this should be the obligation of exporting countries to convince importing countries that the commodities are innocuous, i.e. in our case pathogen-free.

After some further changes the OIE has established instead of codes a system based  on wording about diseases present in the country such as “Clinical disease”, “Disease limited to one or more zones”. This kind of information has minimum informative value for importing countries to evaluate risk of pathogen introduction through trade. The exception is in few emergency diseases where the OIE system is well elaborated, however usually the report on the source of the outbreak(s) or origin of infection is “Unknown or inconclusive“.


4. Reduced list of internationally reportable diseases

In 1995 (1990) there were following lists of animal diseases internationally reportable: 15 (16) diseases of the List A, 80 (95) diseases of the List B and 32 (31) diseases of the List C, i.e. all together 127 (142) diseases. Additionally there were collected and published in FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook as experiment also data on 23 zoonoses in human population.

Definitions: “List A means the List of transmissible diseases which have the potential for very serious and rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, which are of serious socio-economic or public health consequences and which are of major importance for the international trade of animals and animals products”.“List B means the List of transmissible diseases which are considered to be of socio-economic and/or public health importance within countries and which are significant in the international trade of animals and animal products.”


The OIE, after taking over FAO global animal health information system in 1996, abolished the List C without any assessment of the consequences as far as particular disease spread risk was concerned. Later the classification of animal infections according to their importance was illogically abolished as well.


From the DG OIE Editorials, April 2004: “The OIE paves the way for a new animal disease notification system. Resolution passed by the International Committee ... to establish a single OIE list of notifiable terrestrial animal diseases to replace the current Lists A and B. The aim is drawing up a single list is to be in line with the terminology of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS) of the World Trade Organization, by classifying diseases as specific hazard and giving listed diseases the same degree of importance in international trade.”


However, the author studying the WTO/SPS has not found any explicit indication for requiring  to abolish the international classification of diseases according to their importance. The reason was probably to create the impression that the most dangerous diseases are not so dangerous and thus facilitating animal export. This change was favourable only to those exporting countries being unable to eradicate some List A diseases and to can export the animals and their products without a need to eradicate these infections.


Example: European Union could not confirm exporting animal commodities as free of List A diseases due to African swine fever (A120) in Sardinia.


In 1998 the OIE abolished also numeric classification of listed diseases and started using only verbal terms being ordered according English, French and Spanish alphabets (not considering the difficulties for the majority of differently speaking countries) and thus seriously complicating importing countries when carrying out the assessment of pathogen introduction risk. The abolishment of modern numeric international classification of animal diseases is difficult to understand in times of general digitalization. Similar step would be in human medicine absolutely unimaginable. It is very difficult to understand who is behind these illogical and unscientific provisions being imposed on all countries in the world.

From the OIE lists disappeared important zoonosis “leptospirosis” as well as “Teschen enterovirosis of pigs” without any scientific justification and assessment of the risk for their spreading through trade. Both were eliminated also from the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and thus abolishing recommendations for protective trade barrier against both diseases = facilitating their export - globalization.


The leptospirosis, important infection also for humans and being decades in the List B (B056), was eliminated in spite of A. Thierman (USA), former leptospirosis specialist, being the President of the OIE Terrestrial Code Commission for almost two decades and six OIE reference laboratories for this infection.

More complicated is the history of “Teschovirus encephalomyelitis in pigs (Klobouk’s disease)” originally  included in the List A as incurable killing disease (A140), then it was transferred in the List B (B526) a finally disappeared at all without any clearance by OIE global reference laboratory for this disease. International importance of this infection is without any doubt. E.g. in 2009  information on „Teschovirus encephalomyelitis“ in Western Hemisphere provoked an international alarm. The author repeatedly wrote to DG OIE asking to correct in the Index of OIE World Animal Health 1997 and in two subsequent issues professional nonsense “Klobouk’s disease – see Rinderpest”.


Infections missing in the lists of internationally reportable diseases cannot be current subject of import risk assessment, i.e. their pathogens can easily be exported and spread mainly when the grade of clinical manifestation is zero or minimal. These infections usually are not controlled at exporting country level and not discovered and blocked in time in importing country.


Example: Libya imported in 1988 from Uruguay more than 250 000 sheep for slaughter. Libyan veterinarians headed by Dr Abu Sowa, Chief Veterinary Officer, visited this exporting country to assess epizootiological situation for avoiding importation of any pathogens of internationally reportable transmissible diseases, mainly foot-and-mouth disease that time occurring in Uruguay. The result was that the import unwittingly introduced in Libya a horrible myiasis – Cochliomiya homivorax, never before reported in Eastern Hemisphere.. See Map 1. Its extremely demanding eradication in Northern Africa using Sterile Insect Technique was achieved in 1991 and cost about 80 million UDS. This myiasis was additionally included in the OIE List B of animal diseases (as B060) on the basis of author’s proposal during 57. OIE General Conference in Paris, 25-27 May 1989.


Map 1

Global map of New world screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) reflecting its introduction from Latin America to Libya through sheep export in 1988. The New World Screwworm Eradication Program, North Africa 1988-1992, FAO, 1992


Several important zoonoses are not included in the OIE global information system: zoonotic salmonelloses (except in poultry), Ebola virosis, Lyme borreliosis, the plague etc.. S.C.MacDiarmid (1992) listed 52 infections of livestock which may possibly be carried in carcasses, meat, offals or meat products.


 5. Limited number of notifiable animal diseases

On non-notifiable disease there is no any official international information. There are not organized any specific surveillance investigations and no any national control or eradication programme. Without specific epizootiological situation knowledge it is very difficult to guarantee specific pathogen-free export. It means in practice that the filter to avoid export of specific pathogens is leaky with negative impact on importing countries getting new problems usually difficult or unrealistic to solve, even if the eradication methods are available. From the global pathogen spread point of view this kind of pathogen propagation is extremely serious in case of major exporting countries with reduced list of notifiable diseases. Almost in no exporting country internationally reportable diseases are all obligatory notifiable. In no exporting country exists country-wide active surveillance system to detect  a l l  specific foci of all OIE listed diseases. This creates problem with the reliability and complexity of reported numeric data. Therefore, the absolute numbers of officially reported outbreaks/cases are usually lower or incomplete than in the reality.



Table 3.  Numbers of officially reported present animal diseases of OIE international list, numbers of notifiable and non notifiable diseases in selected exporting countries (OIE WAHID 2013)



Number of

present diseases

Number of

notifiable diseases

Number of

non notifiable diseases













New Zealand




United Kingdom




United States of America





*) According to HANDISTATUS II and WAHID anthrax present in animals in USA was during 1997-2005 non notifiable.


6. Importance undervaluation of exporting country infection reporting

Instead of collecting as much as possible epizootiological information to be available for applying effective anti-epizootic programmes and first of all for importing countries when deciding on animal commodity import conditions, some very influencing officers of the OIE HQs propagate theory minimizing role of this kind of information. This approach de facto supports pathogen spread through international trade due to “information disarmament” of importing countries. Professional justification and assessments of the risk of pathogen spread through trade thanks this philosophy are not available. The concept that importing countries do not need to know real animal disease occurrence in exporting countries, means conscious indirect support of export/import of non-healthy animals and non-pathogen-free animal products. This concept unilaterally favourable to major exporting countries is being imposed upon member country governments in spite of OIE constant proclamations such as “Protecting animals, preserving our future!”



 “The OIE is taking a new approach to setting standards and revising existing ones: the categorization of a country/zone status is first based on the assessment of the overall level of risk present in the country/zone or animal population, rather than on whether a disease has been reported or not.” (!?) (A. Thiermann (2004), President, OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code Commission).

"If, for a particular trade, we have available risk reducing tools (tests, treatment, whatever) which will reduce the risk by 10,000 or 100,000 times … what does it matter what starting risk was?”  (S. C. MacDiarmid (New Zealand), Actual Vice-president, OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code Commission in a letter of 15/1/1996 sent to ,author).


In other words, the disease occurrence in exporting countries is not of importance for importing countries to know about it. These countries themselves are expected to apply “risk reducing tools” in imported not sanitary innocuous commodities. This is obviously the reason why S.C.MacDiarmid, that time the member of the OIE Working Group on Informatics and Epidemiology and key initiator of abusing “risk assessment” methods in trade, belonged among those who contributed to the abolition of regular reporting data on disease import and to absurd reduction of diseases occurrence grading data replacing them by one not interpretable cross “+”. This deliberate “clouding” information for importing country decisions is facilitating export of animals affected by communicable diseases and of non-pathogen-free animal products creating “official” conditions for even organized man-made irreparable globalization of animal infections.


This tendency to minimize information on epizootiological situation is reflecting the fact, that many major exporting countries have not good idea about animal infection occurrence in their home countries being unable to control them and have serious difficulties in issuing certificates guaranteeing pathogen free status of exporting animal commodities or are not in a position to issue them at all.

More information in


7. Conclusion

International animal health information system has been formally improved thanks to intensive modernization exploiting appropriately internet facilities and on-line communication. Appreciation merits OIE system related to some emergency infections using outbreak maps, immediate notification and follow-up reports, weekly disease information etc.. However in spite of this, importing countries have much less sanitary information for their decision on animal commodity trade than when starting globalization era in the middle of the 1990s. This fact has indirectly contributed to mass global spreading of the pathogens through international trade when governmental animal health services were minimized unable to control effectively the trade and epizootiological situation in almost all the countries in the world. The situation is going worse and irreparable also due the fact that animal infection eradication programmes are in these countries close to zero or not more existing.

The OIE has been avoiding to monitor and analyze the consequences of its provisions for irreparable global spread through international trade in animal commodities. It prefers to re-orientate its original and only anti-epizootic mandate to other animal health problems without its international responsibility. Even in Terms of Reference of a huge OIE global network of 247 Reference Laboratories covering 117 diseases or/topics in 38 countries and 49 Collaborating Centres covering 46 topics in 26 countries, is not included the need to monitor and analyse global spread of specific infections through trade.

Instead of improving OIE statistical information system to provide more and better information to member countries in connection with new phase of international trade, previous system was abolished and accepted its significant reduction to have much less information for decision making then before processing data only manually! This abolition was carried out unscrupulously without any previous analysis, any scientific, practical and logical justification, any risk assessment of the consequences and without any respect to information needs for anti-epizootic programmes and for the decision on import conditions. The previous satisfactory global information system was deliberately destroyed to “facilitate trade” through minimizing information on exporting country situation and thus “blinding” importing countries when analyzing the risk of disease import.

Data collections are normally targeted to practical follow-up actions. The global animal health executing organization is from the end of World War II the FAO and not OIE carrying out from that time only global methodological and advisory activities. Therefore, there is an urgent need to return global animal infection information system lost in 1996 (under difficult-to-understand circumstances *) back to the FAO respecting its Constitution, Article I, Function of the Organization: “1. The Organization shall collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information related to nutrition, food and agriculture.”, i.e. including animal health.


*) That time the leading officers of the OIE (J. Blancou, Director General), WHO (F.-X. Meslin, Chief, Veterinary Public Health) and FAO (Y. Cheneau, Chief, Animal Health Service) were of the same nationality.

Necessary data on animal infection occurrence in the member countries for decision making, instead to be further developed and improved, were reduced ad absurdum and data related to infection introduction disappeared at all. Global animal health information system had always been understood as an integral component of the FAO information system. Without reliable data on animal health in the world is impossible to analyse the real situation and identify correctly the priorities for international operative actions and long-term programmes. The FAO lost from that time necessary influence on actual global animal health information system which provides incomplete, strongly underreported and confusing data on animal infection occurrence and spread.

Significant reduction of infection occurrence information without any scientific justification is contrary to OIE proclaiming “scientific approach” and to OIE “risk assessment” requiring a lot of information. There is a doubt how this kind of OIE provisions have been adopted being against the interests of importing countries trying to protect their animal and human health.

The actual OIE policy, in contrast with its original function to protect animal health, consists mainly in supporting international trade at the expense of animal health in importing countries. This non-UN organization has never presented to member country governments any global analysis and information on mass long-distance man-made spreading of infection diseases of animals or any suggestions for stopping unacceptable practice of the WTO when paying importing country cannot ask for full sanitary quality guarantee. 

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DOI: 10.1515/ats-2015-0014                  AGRICULTURA TROPICA ET SUBTROPICA, 48/3-4, 105-114, 2015


Irreparable global spread of pathogens and international trade – sanitary requirements


Václav Kouba

Department of Animal Science and Food Processing in Tropics and Subtropics,

Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic

Former Chief, Animal Health Service, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy




Sanitary requirements for international trade in animals and their products are regulated by World Trade Organization (WTO) and Word Organization for Animal Health (OIE). None of them requires exported animal commodities to be of full sanitary quality, i.e. to be free of pathogens causing mass suffering and premature death of immense numbers of animals and humans. Both organizations using different methods try to avoid requirements of importing countries for pathogen-free animal commodity.  They support the exporting countries at the expense of health in the importing ones that are not self-sufficient in animal production and thus contribute to worldwide man-made spreading of pathogens through “legal” trade. They ignore the global irreparable consequences of their common “trade over health” policy. They also deprive the importing countries of freedom to reject goods having no sanitary harmlessness guarantee. They ignore pathogen reproduction/spreading/resistance abilities and the fact that every case is different. Admitting pathogen spread is in stark contrast to the only duty of the OIE. It is therefore recommended: Documents and provisions supporting pathogen spread through “legal” international trade to be immediately abolished; to use and apply normal free market fair trade principles for animal commodities, i.e. full quality requirements based on  demands of the importing country to avoid pathogen introduction and on bilateral agreement without any external interference. State animal health services must be significantly strengthened to be able to control international trade on-the-spot and organize infection control/eradication programmes. Modern action-oriented epizootiology methods have to be used.  All intergovernmental anti-epizootic agenda should be concentrated in United Nations Organization and dealt with as a priority programme to protect global health and life.


Key words: potential bioterror; global epizootiology; absence of guarantee; Homo sapiens extinction; invisible enemy; OIE Code; OIE policy; risk assessment; unfair trade; WTO/SPS.








In the 1990s an era of globalization began, including trade in animals and animal products (hereafter “animal commodities”). At that time a rapidly growing international trade started in which goods began to be transported in a much shorter time to much farther territories and to much more destinations than before. Sanitary requirements for pathogen-free animal commodities proved for main exporting countries to be difficult to meet. They managed to influence World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Office of Epizootics (OIE): sanitary requirements were significantly reduced instead of making them much more demanding when considering that long distance pathogen export has much more serious consequences than during a short distance trade. There were documents issued not avoiding pathogen export: WTO “Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures“- SPS (1995) and OIE “Terrestrial Animal Health Code” (1996-2015) (hereafter “Code”). This article is reviewing the above mentioned documents, OIE “Handbook on Import Risk Analysis for Animals and Animal Products” and OIE policy. It is based on selected literature, mainly published by the OIE and this author’s experience as former Chief Epizootiologist responsible also for his country protection against pathogen import. 


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was superseded as an international organization by the WTO. An updated General Agreement became the WTO agreement governing trade in goods from 1.1.1995.




WTO “Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures “- SPS


The SPS has significantly contributed to pathogen scot-free spreading through “legal” international trade. In no other commodity the quality requirements have been so degraded as in this case. The SPS, prepared in full agreement with the OIE, started, in fact, a conscious man-made globalization of animal infections, including those transmissible to humans. Background information for SPS approval at ministerial meeting in Marrakesh in 1994 concealed risks of global pathogen spread that amy lead to catastrophic consequences.  Confused governments approved it, in good faith in GATT fairness, within a package of other documents as a condition sine qua non (= threat) for WTO membership. A further misinformation consisted in attractive preamble text "Desiring to improve the human health, animal health ..." although in the SPS there is no one provision leading to health improvement. The SPS only purpose is to facilitate profitable export of animal commodities at the expense of health in the importing country. Instead of applying normal principles of fair trade, the SPS is full of non transparent terms and texts. It is admitting "negative trade effect", i.e. including pathogen import. It “allows” importing countries "appropriate level of protection", but only "provided that such measures are not inconsistent with the provisions of SPS", i.e. if it corresponds with its policy admitting pathogen export. It is accepting even export of zoonotic pathogens: "exceptional character of human health risks to which people voluntarily expose themselves." Which country would consciously and voluntarily agree with importing pathogens?  Who would like to be voluntarily exposed to pathogens?


SPS structure: “Basic Rights and Obligations, Harmonization, Equivalence, Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of Sanitary Protection, Adaptation to Regional Conditions, Disease Free Areas and Area of Low Disease Prevalence,  Transparency, Control, Inspection and Approval, Technical Assistance, Special and Differential Treatment, Consultation and Dispute Settlement, Administration, Implementation, Final Provisions, Annexes (Definitions, Transparency of Regulations). Misinterpretation of the SPS required additional “Guidelines to further the practical implementation” issued by the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (e.g. G/SPS/15, 18 July 2000) = more meetings and papers.


SPS text examples: ”Members shall ensure that any sanitary measures is applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal life or health, is based on scientific principles and is not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence. Members shall ensure that their sanitary measures do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between Members where identical or similar conditions prevail.  Sanitary measures shall not be applied in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on international trade. Members should when determining the appropriate level of sanitary protection, take into account the objective of minimizing negative trade effect.”


The SPS does not respect that every case is different and that ever-changing multi-etiological epizootiological situation (usually not sufficiently known) is almost incomparable between exporting and importing countries. The SPS is avoiding the requirements of importing country for pathogen-free commodities. It has deprived importing countries of freedom to reject animal commodities being without guaranteed harmlessness. It is not requiring quality guarantee certificates and thus successful complaints are almost impossible. It addresses maximal duties with minimal rights to importing countries while maximal rights with minimal duties are provided to exporting countries. It gives traders “arguments” against state health services when demanding pathogen-free trade. Bad example of the SPS has been imposed upon individual countries and thus negative impacts of this kind of policy have been multiplied.


The SPS asks for scientific justifications of import conditions, however it itself  ignores the science not respecting the immense complexity, diversity and dynamics of invisible pathogens as live biological phenomena, their ability to reproduce,  propagate horizontally and to next generations etc.  It does not respect: the enormous number of animal infections mostly not notifiable, not reported and not controlled; some pathogens as biological weapons; new emerging pathogens; subclinical pathogen carriers; limited sensitivity of diagnostic tests. i.e. false negative results; missing drugs and vaccines against the majority of infections; weak state services unable to control trade and to inspect attest issuing veterinarians; grade of observing laws, etc. For post-import pathogen spread, it can be sufficient to import only one infected animal or one unit of infected animal product depending on communicability of the etiological agents and on exposition of susceptible population.


B. Vallat (France), DG, OIE answered this author’s protest: "I am not in a position to criticize, for diplomatic reasons... an Agreement supported by the governments of 135 countries."  Therefore, the author wrote to M. Moore (New Zealand), DG, WTO asking to abolish the SPS, who in answering stressed the OIE key role in preparing the SPS. A.Thiermann (USA), long-term President, OIE Terrestrial Code Commission wrote in 2000: “we must recognize the significant gains in trade thanks to the SPS agreement. Consumers are in general better off, since they have… increased safety in what they can buy.” However the “gains” were at the detriment of health in importing countries where “consumers were worse off due to decreased safety in what they could buy”. This OIE officer chairing a meeting at the 10th International Symposium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, 2003, Chile categorically refused this author’s request to discuss the SPS and the Code, i.e. he did not admit any doubts about them.                                                                                                                                                   


The SPS is obviously not mandatory for all countries (except for the dominating ones?).


In 2001 New Zealand prohibited import of beef and beef products from all countries of Europe not respecting that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) free countries had the same BSE free status as New Zealand. This was: "inconsistent with the provisions of the SPS"; without “sufficient scientific evidence" and  "documented transparent risk assessment techniques"; "unjustifiably discriminated countries where identical conditions prevail" and "constituted a disguised restriction on international trade". The WTO and the OIE surprisingly did not react!

 Note: Report of the Research Group of the European Commission for FMD, Vienna, 1994: “…principal objectives should be to avoid international spread of animal diseases and to protect specific diseases free territories. This principle should be defended in spite of strong international and national business pressure and attacks.” "It also proved difficult to deal with international traders who seem to believe that they only have to respect their own laws."      


The SPS is reflecting policy of maximal gains in business not respecting consequences (“why bother about the future?”). The very wordy and complicated SPS using bureaucratic instead of scientific/realistic approach becomes transparent when applying it through the OIE Code. 

Fig. 1




OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code


The SPS converted the Code into a subordinated position to the WTO: "The Code thus forms an integral part of the regulatory reference system established by the WTO." The former Code flexible recommendations for minimal protection of importing country health were de facto converted into maximal limits. Code 1992 Foreword: "The principal aim of the IAH Code of the OIE is to facilitate international trade in animals and animal products through the detailed definition of the minimum health guarantees to be required of trading partners, so as to avoid the risk of spreading animal diseases inherent in such exchanges." New post-SPS concept was expressed e.g. in Code Special Issue 1997: “Import risk analysis is preferable to a zero risk approach.The principle to avoid risk of pathogen spreading was replaced by supporting trade to the detriment of animal and human health importing countries. The SPS converted Code recommendations into an obligatory limit for protective measures in the imported country (other misinformation?) not permitting without "scientific justification" a better protection as  before. Actual Code does not ask for pathogen-free guarantee and even tries to avoid this requirement. The Code has been based upon consensus only. Code 1992 Foreword: "the Code... is the fruit of a consensus of the highest veterinary health authorities of the Members…” It is neither a result of scientific testing nor approved by member country governments. The Code objective was indicated e.g. in “OIE Overview 1999”: “In the world economy, the unimpeded flow of international trade in animals and animal products requires: the harmonization of requirement for such trade, in order to avoid unjustified trade barriers.” What are “unjustified trade barriers”?


Code 2001, Article “The requirements applying to pathogens or diseases subject to official control programme in a country or zone should not provide a higher level of protection on imports than that provided for the same pathogens or diseases by the measures applied within that country or zone”. Article“They should not require a veterinarian to certify matters that are outside his-her knowledge or which he-she cannot ascertain and verify.”


The level of protection depends first on the knowledge of epizootiological situation in the exporting country which is lesser than the knowledge of home situation, i.e. they cannot be the same. The importing governments, farmers/consumers are not interested whether the certifying veterinarian was informed or not, they ask for full sanitary quality. The importers do not want to pay for goods bringing new difficult-to-solve problems.

Code 2014, Article 5.1.2: “Importing countries should restrict their requirements to those necessary to achieve the national appropriate level of protection. If these are stricter than the standards of the OIE, they should be based on an import risk analysis.” What is “appropriate level of protection” and what are “OIE standards”?

What about diseases outside of the Code such as OIE listed paratuberculosis or eliminated from previous Codes: leptospirosis, atrophic rhinitis of swine, enterovirus encephalomyelitis of swine, swine vesicular disease, vesicular stomatitis, Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium in poultry, Salmonella abortus equi, horse pox, horse mange, horse epizootic lymphangitis, fowl cholera and avian tuberculosis? What about other diseases of previous List C and the majority of zoonoses (about 1/10 of one thousand known animal infections)? According to SPS/Code provisions the requirements for the above mentioned diseases’ free status must be supported by convincing risk assessment or their import to be accepted!

List C examples: Multiple species diseases: listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, 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 and strangles. Pig diseases:  swine erysipelas. Poultry diseases:  avian encephalomyelitis, avian spirochaetosis and avian leukosis.

Examples from Code gaps openly admitting pathogen export, without any scientific justification, even from diseased herds/flocks recommending only unverifiable “measures”:

Code 2014: Recommendations for importation from countries considered infested with New World screwworm: “attesting that: the animals to be exported have been inspected, on the premises of origin,.. After inspection for wounds with egg masses or larvae of New World screwworm, any infested animal has been rejected for export;” i.e. entirely ignoring Cochliomyia hominivorax action radius: Flight range of adult screwworm flies... to as much as 300 km.” (Fernández, White 2010). Chapters on Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis  require only specific treatments, i.e. again guaranteeing nothing.


The importing countries are interested in official guarantee of full sanitary quality and not in pre-export “measures”. The Code facilitates scot-free pathogen export through minimizing sanitary requirements (e.g. reducing or eliminating etiological investigations and commodity origin disease-free zone size) and thus also avoiding need for microbiological investigations, control and eradication in exporting countries increasing their profit. It discriminates importing countries (mainly the developing ones) imposing on them to accept commodity also with the pathogens and to pay as for full sanitary quality. These countries cannot refuse commodities being without pathogen-free guarantee or require better protection than OIE “standard” (changing every year!) without convincing “risk assessments” to be presented to exporting countries. The Code requires only non-binding information. The veterinarian is asked to “certify” what he knows and not for sanitary quality (no microbiological/epizootiological investigations = “no pathogens”), i.e. alibi without responsibility for eventual pathogen export. According to the Code he guarantees nothing!


Multi-etiological recommendations for raw meat trade are missing. The certificate model asks: “meat comes from animals or birds slaughtered in abattoirs” and “is considered as fit for human consumption”, however without any definition (everybody can understand it differently) and without any requirement for pathogen-free guarantee dependent on sanitary status of animals/herds/flocks of its origin. It does not require either the origin from healthy animals/herds/flocks or microbiological testing. The same is valid also for other animal products.


The exporting country is almost without risk of pathogen export complaints. The impacts of pathogen export are without any “penalty” due to difficulty to detect invisible pathogens and due to missing sanitary guarantee documents. Pathogen import consequences, such as direct/indirect losses and cost of measures, must be paid by importing country itself. The provisions influencing animal/human health and life in the whole world are based only on the opinion of a small group of  “experts” not respecting either the requirements of importing governments/farmers/consumers or scientific criteria (e.g. testing,  audiatur et altera pars, critical  evaluations of the impacts, etc.).


Paratuberculosis: MacDiarmid (1992) informed that “Johne’s disease is very spread in New Zealand. It occurs at high prevalence in sheep and cattle and has also been reported in goats and deer… No control programs are in place… causing significant problems when exporting live animals.” The chance to eliminate specific import conditions from the Code came in 2004 when he became Secretary General, OIE Terrestrial Code Commission. Thanks to “new OIE standard” this pathogen has irreparably spread: e.g. viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis  in powdered infant milk was reported by Hruska et al. (2005) and later by Grant et al. (2014) in 44% of 66 samples from 18 countries.

Box 1. Original sanitary conditions recommended by the OIE Code for avoiding import of paratuberculosis. International animal health Code 1992, chapter 3.1.6: page 183


 Veterinary Administration of importing countries should require: for domestic ruminants for breading or rearing the presentation of an international zoo-sanitary certificate attesting that the animals:

1) showed no clinical sign of Johne’s disease on the day of shipment;

2) were kept in a herd in which no clinical sign of Johne’s disease was officially reported during the five years prior to shipment;

3) showed negative response to diagnostic test for Johne’s disease during the thirty days prior to shipment;


Notes: In previous Code 1986, chapter, page 161 there was another condition: 4) showed negative response to the complement fixation test for Johne’s disease during the thirty days prior to shipment.” After 2004 all above mentioned import conditions disappeared leaving under “Paratuberculosis” only empty page.



Similar story happened with leptospirosis. In the Codes up to 2004 there were four paragraphs of specific requirements to avoid import of this zoonosis. From that time the page ”Leptospirosis” contained only words “Under study” being repeated during several years. Instead of new import conditions this zoonosis surprisingly disappeared not only from the Code but also from OIE listed diseases in spite of OIE reference laboratories for leptospirosis (in USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands and Argentina) and key influence of A. Thiermann, that time President, OIE Terrestrial Code Commission who started his carrier as a leptospirolog.


Further Code requirement reductions consist in not respecting territorial circulation and all possible body locations of pathogens, contaminations during processing and human errors.

Code 2014, Article 8.2.3 Aujeszky’s disease (AD): “Safe commodities: When authorizing import ... of the following commodities ... Veterinary Authorities should not require any AD related conditions, regardless of the AD status of the exporting country or zone: fresh meat of domestic and wild pigs not containing offal (head, and thoracic and abdominal viscera);”. “Safe commodities” only under not existing ideal conditions!


Invisible pathogens without laboratory investigations are unidentifiable. Therefore animal commodities should originate from specific disease-free herd/flock or zone (the larger the better) and thus avoiding the risk of pathogen-carrier export. The Code does not respect differences among pathogen species types, subtypes and strains. Imported pathogens often cause manifest forms of infections only after several passages and increase their virulence in susceptible population. The Code does not respect that every case is different and that every country has different epizootiological situation and pathogen spread/control conditions.


SPS/Code provisions not requiring pathogen-free guarantee = no need for infection eradications in exporting countries = no need for strong state animal health services = loss of government control of international trade = substitution by private veterinarians issuing only information “certificates” = facilitated export of pathogens = importing countries lacking capacity for pathogen discovery/eradication = worsening epizootiological situation.


The OIE was not inviting Animal Health Service, FAO to participate in the Code preparation, i.e. it was deciding itself.


Office International of Epizootics “new policy”

The OIE as an intergovernmental organization (outside of United Nations Organization)  played since its establishment in 1924 a very positive role in control and eradication of animal infections in the world. The turning point occurred in the mid-nineties, when it became dominated by a small group of "experts" from leading exporting countries (Lupus ovium custos) promotingtrade before health” policy through reducing import sanitary requirements. OIE policy was changed from consistent protection of animal population health against infectious diseases into admitting and even supporting trade at the expense of animal and human health in importing countries, i.e. spread of pathogens through “legal” international trade. The OIE ceased to perform its only duty.

This author was confronted with the “new policy” when preparing a paper for OIE Scientific and Technical Review. The editor was changing the scientifically correct title of the “OIE”.  The reaction to author’s protest was sent by R. Dugas, Head of the Publication Department, OIE on 25/10/2003: “Dear Author – As per a decision by the Director General, Office International des Epizooties has now been dropped.” B. Vallat, DG, OIE informed this author that the 71th General Session (May 2003) “authorized to use, in all circumstances, alongside the statutory name of the OIE, the common name World Organization for Animal Health”.“the scope of the OIE’s missions has evolved beyond the prevention and control of epizootic diseases to include all animal health issues…” Copy sent to I. Belev (Bulgaria), President, OIE Regional Commission for Europe (admitting pathogen spread through trade and drastic reduction of successful state veterinary services).


The basic principle of “good governance” is to focus available resources on the main objective. The OIE, instead of improving its activities against pathogen mass spreading through international trade, has expanded them towards infinite problems being in full competence of individual countries. The “new” issues are covered by veterinary research institutions, faculties, literature etc. This change is in contrast to OIE responsibility for never-ending complex international anti-epizootic problems to be solved. Responsible organization will never run away from unfinished work (“when we are dead and gone, who cares!”).The OIE is responsible for international control of epizootics, i.e. for international anti-epizootic information, coordination, methods, standards, etc. Government ratification of changing name and scope cannot be replaced by low level decision. The OIE, in spite of being paid by  member country governments, behaves as an irresponsible  private society or club being free for name and scope changes,


In OIE documents there are many contradictions, without factual arguments, about improvement of animal health in the world while the situation is getting worse. Recent minimizing government budgets under the pressure of World Bank and International Monetary Fund, dominated by the same countries as the OIE, has almost paralyzed state veterinary services losing capacity for trade control and thus facilitating pathogen exports.


Vallat (2014): “The Global Health Security Agenda cites the OIE PVS Pathway for improving the performance of Veterinary Services as one of the main tools for achieving a world that is healthy and secure for all, free from the threat of infectious diseases of humans and animals. By protecting animals we preserve our future.” This is a theory and false declaration when the global situation continues to be worse thanks also to OIE “new policy”.


The OIE represents an incredible exception from international legal practice also as far as staff nationality rotation is concerned (e.g. the post of Director General has been filled from the beginning in 1924 only by French). Preference in OIE bodies and publications is given to the most influential exporting countries in spite of its establishment as a neutral professional agency. International anti-epizootic prevention depends on the protection of threatened territories, i.e. importing countries. Therefore they must have corresponding position and influence. The OIE has been omitting pathogen spread risk assessment to be presented to delegates before relevant professional decisions. It is difficult to accept that the delegates of importing countries would agree voluntarily (without pressure, threat or trick) with pathogen import. OIE “French veto” policy is obviously influenced by theoreticians without practical anti-epizootic field experience instead of action-oriented successful epizootiologists.


The position of OIE DG has been filled only by French specialists as a “tradition” and not due to anti-epizootic activities of France (e.g. in 2001 exported foot and mouth disease virus in the Netherlands causing a loss of more than two hundred thousand animals; from 1978 admitting African swine fever threat from neighbouring Italy). In OIE publications any critical comments on pathogen spreading due to SPS or Code are not admitted. E.g. in OIE Scientific and Technical Reviews no articles requiring pathogen-free trade are published.


The OIE is not respecting the conflict of interest between state (protecting animal and human health) and private services (dependent mainly on availability of diseased animals) giving both the same level of importance. Thus the OIE has degraded state veterinary services not respecting that private veterinarians have opposite interest. This approach is reflected in minimizing state services making them unable to control on-the-spot international trade and to eradicate animal infections. Effective state control of this kind of trade has been lost. The OIE did not even try to save the strength of state veterinary services. It has never officially required from governments  strong state veterinary services as an irreplaceable condition for effective trade control and anti-epizootic programmes. Private sector trade is mainly controlled by private service. Papers and meetings without actions following them cannot block global spread of pathogens through international “legal” trade for which the OIE bears the main professional responsibility.


The OIE has changed its anti-epizootic policy into alloowing pathogen export. This is in stark contrast with animal/human health protection, food safety, livestock production, sustainable development, environment protection, poverty reduction and animal/human welfare programmes. Instead of alarming the world, the OIE ignores consequences of pathogen spread through international “legal” trade. It ignores impact of its policy on farmers and consumers in importing countries. The OIE, not respecting the logical conflict of interest when subordinating to “business over health” policy, has sacrificed its good reputation achieved in the past thanks to many very useful activities. Any organization that fails to fulfill its mission and even harms its members loses its “raison d’être”.





Fig. 2


Abused pathogen import risk assessment


The risk assessment is a normal epizootiological method used for anti-epizootic actions. Pathogen import risk analysis is a complex process considering biological phenomena influenced by many factors. The Chief Veterinary Officer when preparing the import, has to  analyse the multi-etiological risk of pathogen introduction first considering the epizootiological situation in the exporting country and then he either permits or refuses the respective import or suggests other competing country. The idea to abuse “risk assessment” as the main “tool” facilitating export of pathogens has its origin in New Zealand as confirmed e.g. by Kellar (Canada)  in OIE 1993 compendium “Risk analysis, animal health and trade” edited by Acree (USA). MacDiarmid from New Zealand was awarded in 2002 by “OIE Medal of Merit” for “work in developing risk analysis as a basis for insuring safe trade in animals and animal products... ” His “merit” is de facto the opposite: “insuring unsafe trade”. In 1996 he wrote to this author: "If, for a particular trade, we have available risk reducing tools (tests, treatment, whatever) which will reduce the risk by 10,000 or 100,000 times … what does it matter what starting risk was?". Occurrence of infections in exporting countries is not of importance for importing ones to know about it­? The methodology is described in “OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and in OIE “Handbook on Import Risk Analysis for Animals and Animal Products” (Murray et al. 2004).


The OIE Handbook: “The risk analysis must be well documented and supported by references to the scientific literature and other sources, including expert opinion, where used. It must also provide reasoned and logical discussion that supports the conclusions and recommendations. There must be comprehensive documentation of all data, information, assumptions, methods, results, and uncertainties. The results’ presentation must: “explain the risk analysis model’s structure clearly with the aid of appropriate diagrams, such as scenario tree; document all the evidence, data and assumptions, including their references; use clearly labelled, uncluttered graphs, etc.“  Special attention is dedicated to “titles, names and addresses, how to write the summary, how to write the text (using Oxford dictionary), references, tables and figures, etc.  Situation in exporting countries is forgotten.


Exaggerated demands unimaginable in any other commodity would need a special institution for justifying simple import conditions. The cost in case of multi-etiological risk assessments may be higher than the value of the commodity. The theoretical Handbook was falsely introduced by Vallat: “will provide practical guidance to Veterinary Services confronted with the need to analyse the risks posed by import”. It is even threatening that “A zero risk importation policy ... would require the total exclusion of all imports”. The country requiring healthy animals and pathogen-free products should be eliminated from animal commodity import? The Handbook ignores that practical risk assessment needs reliable information on epizootiological situation in the exporting country. Importing countries very often have minimum or zero information on the majority of internationally reportable diseases in exporting countries (ad hoc data only = not all outbreaks are known). For demonstration that the risk is minimal or almost zero mathematical methods were used, however, not respecting biology and logic. From 183 pages 126 are dedicated to “quantifications” of non quantifiable multifactorial risks.


At WHO/Merieux/OIE Seminar on Management and International Cooperation, Veyrier-du-Lac, Annecy, France,  1993,  organized to instruct OIE delegates about disease risk assessment, there were examples presented  such as "rabies would be introduced each 3,367,000 years", i.e. risk minimizing ad absurdum = nonsense!


Handbook quotation of  FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius  The framework used in this model… is therefore designed as a regulatory tool for setting allowed, acceptable or tolerable level of …pathogens in food,..” reflects the policy admitting  pathogens in food for human consumption!

The WTO and the OIE in spite of calling for “risk assessment” to be elaborated by importing countries, have never presented to governments any risk assessment of their policy impacts on pathogen spreading through international trade. Code risk assessment provisions have been abused to disarm importing countries by imposing restricted protection against pathogen introduction. The simple requirement for importing “healthy animals” and “pathogen-free products” (in the SPS and in the Code unknown terms) does not need any pathogen import risk assessment to be presented to exporting country.




All successful treatments of individual diseased animals in the world (curative veterinary medicine has high standard) cannot compensate for global mass morbidity and mortality due to imported pathogens. The result is a steadily worsening global animal population health in spite of having much more scientific information available than in the past. The common WTO/OIE policy causes irreparable consequences in countless diseased and dead animals and humans. Global continuing bioterror has much more serious impact on human lives than local time-bounded “classical” terror. Man-made pathogen globalization represents one of the factors of self-destruction of humankind and disruption of global ecological balance. Both organizations supporting pathogen spreading are methodologically responsible for this inexcusable historical global criminal act. Both organizations have managed to avoid mass media to inform truthfully world public, mainly farmers and consumers in importing countries, on their damaging policy. Both mutually search “alibi” for international spread of pathogens - WTO referring to OIE and vice versa.


Unfounded claims that the SPS and the Code have improved health of animals in the world are not true; on the contrary, they have deteriorated it. The policy admitting pathogen exports, without global monitoring and warning has led to the loss of motivation for population health protection and communicable disease eradications. State veterinary services have been reduced ad absurdum losing their necessary capacity for trade control and infection eradications. Numerous successful results (including the OIE) achieved by previous generations of experts  have been lost. The sanitary (health protection/recovery), economic (food production), ecological (specific disease-free territory protection) and social (living standard) historical importance of veterinary medicine has been considerably degraded.


The OIE deleting in 1996 information on animal infection introductions made it impossible to  analyze global pathogen spread through trade and its sanitary/economic consequences (another misinformation without any scientific and logical justification). Due to lack of this kind of information, governments, veterinary services, research institutes, faculties and authors are not informed about catastrophic global epizootiological situation due WTO/OIE sanitary conditions not requiring pathogen-free animal commodity trade (logical consequences: spread of pathogens through international trade).


That time OIE Working Group on Informatics and Epidemiology was chaired by King (USA) and among its members was also MacDiarmid (New Zealand). Zepeda et al. (2001) instead of scientific critical analysis of the SPS and the Code supported spread of pathogen through international trade. The author himself processed 1,319 official data on pathogen introduction as reported by the countries during last decades of the 20th century (see


In FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius the requirement for pathogen-free food of animal origin is missing as well. It even fixes norms for the contents of pathogens in food of animal origin!


Codex Alimentarius:Listeria monocytogenes is acceptable  up to the limit of specific microbe numbers in investigated samples – 100 bacteria per gram (colony forming units per gram – cfu/g); value over this limit is regarded as a direct risk for human health.” The European Food Safety Authority Journal, 2006, 94, p. 108.    


For anti-epizootic programmes and measures modern action-oriented epizootiology principles and practical methods need to be applied.  The OIE has been avoiding without any logic to use scientific one-word-term “epizootiologyprecisely defining its scope ("Strictly speaking epizootiology is a more inclusive term than epidemiology” Schwabe (USA). Homo sapiens  belongs to the animal kingdom. Epizootiology = analysis and follow-up actions (see while today’s “veterinary epidemiology” = analysis only. Trainees in “armchair” veterinary epidemiology know how to analyze data (no need to see animals) but not how to solve any practical anti-epizootic problems. The majority of actual  veterinary epidemiologists are not involved in field anti-epizootic programmes with professional responsibility for their results. Veterinary epidemiologists from major exporting countries dominating the OIE have been influencing its policy as well as global anti-epizootic research, field actions, undergraduate and postgraduate curricula reducing or avoiding animal population health/disease practical education. Thanks to OIE global “methodological” influence animal health services have reduced their importance for animal production and human health protection. Actual situation calls for the development of “global epizootiology” research and  actions based on anti-epizootic pyramid – interconnected system of local, national, regional, continental and global programmes. Zoonotic pathogens could contribute to premature extinction of Homo sapiens as a biological species. Planet-wide eradicated pathogens are, after about one hundred years of intensive and costly actions, only two: human small pox virus (1980) and rinderpest virus (2010). This reflects the extraordinary difficulty of global anti-epizootic activities.


French authors in Toma et al. “Dictionary of Veterinary Epidemiology” (1999) even wrote that anti-epidemic problem solutions belong  to so called "health managers" and not to "epidemiologists". This “novelty” means that one specialist in office carries out the analyses only and the other one solves the problem in field. What are these “armchair epidemiologists” for? Who are the “health  managers”?  A new  profession?  The Dictionary says: “it is recommended to use the word epidemic instead of epizootic.” “it  is recommended to discontinue use of the term of epizootiology.” Why? The name is not decisive, the most important are practical results of the given science. Acta, non verba.


Free market fair trade principles must be applied, i.e. full sanitary quality based on importing country requirements and on bilateral agreement without any external interference or even WTO/OIE dictate through SPS and Code and without any political or trade lobby pressures. Paying country must have the freedom to decide on import conditions. Importing governments, farmers and consumers must have the right to require the commodities to be pathogen-free and to know truthfully what is guaranteed and what is not. The WTO/OIE concept represents a perverse logic, when exporters of communicable disease pathogens are without any economic sanctions (self-regulation does not work without penalties), while importers refusing dangerous goods containing pathogens are “punished” being considered as trade barrier troublemakers and sometimes exposed to international WTO/OIE arbitration.




International trade must be much better controlled by the governments. State animal health services must be significantly strengthened and enable: to control on-the-spot international trade in animal commodities, i.e. pre-export and post-import microbiological/epizootiological investigations; to issue export guarantee certificates; to discover and eradicate imported pathogens; to improve epizootiological situation through infection eradications, etc. In order to block or at least to break global spreading of pathogens all WTO and OIE provisions supporting their spread through international “legal” trade must be immediately abolished.  The entire intergovernmental anti-epizootic agenda should be concentrated without any delay in United Nations Organization responsible for the future of humanity and life on this planet. Worldwide protection of animal and human health and life, incl. survival of humans, must become an urgent priority subject of the most competent executive body of the UN, i.e. Security Council issuing internationally binding resolutions.


Notes: The OIE deserves appreciation for its contribution to FAO Rinderpest Global Eradication Programme (GREP/AGAH). FAO Animal Health Service (AGAH) represents an executive body providing technical assistance (e.g. in 1990 backstopping 218 field programmes in about one hundred countries). This author sent  letters to leaders of relevant international organizations (starting with United Nations Secretary General and ending with Chiefs, Animal health Service, FAO) warning about pathogen spreading through trade as the danger for global health and life, incl. humanity survival. It seems that courage to correct actual critical situation is lacking. More in


International trade yes, but in healthy animals and pathogen-free animal products.




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More in (mainly block “Invisible enemy threat”)




See also:


Warning letters to United Nations Secretary General

-         Factor of humankind self-destruction - irreparable global spreading of communicable disease pathogens through international trade


-         Internationally organized spread of infectious diseases damaging global health, biosphere and UN programmes




Invisible threat to our planet biosphere – warning against infectious disease globalization


Globalization of infectious diseases – underestimated dangerous threat to our planet biosphere