World Animal Health in 2003, International Office of
Volume 1 – Reports on the animal health status and methods for disease control and prevention, tables on incidence of List A diseases, 388 pages, ISBN 92-9044-611-0
Volume 2 – Tables on animal health status and methods for disease control and prevention, number of veterinarians and animal health auxiliary personnel, 362 pages,
The Volume 1 “Reports” has the following structure: List of diseases of mammals, birds and bees; list of diseases of aquatic animals; reports on animal health status and disease control method including disease status worldwide in 2003, wildlife diseases and country reports; tables on incidence of List A diseases worldwide; OIE collaborating centres; index of diseases, index of countries/territories and list of OIE members. The Volume 2 “Tables” contains: country tables on animal health status and disease control methods; country tables on incidence of List A diseases; countries that did not submit a report or table on their animal health status and disease control methods; number of veterinarians and animal health auxiliary personnel. The document is based on the reports of 117 national Chief Veterinary Officers (the OIE has 165 country members).
The Volume 1
starts with “Animal health status worldwide in 2003” describing the most
significant epizootiological events that occurred in the world. The main
component is represented by individual country/territory reports informing on
selected diseases’ situation, measures and results. In the Volume 2 the country
tables start with data on animal populations’ size needed for disease incidence
and prevalence evaluation. The majority of numbers on farm animal populations
reported by Chief Veterinary Officers are different when compared to those sent
by their governments to United Nations. The discrepancy creates doubts about
the reliability of other data, i.e. on disease occurrence. The differences are of
particular relevance if presented by the major exporting countries (e.g.
No country can know the exact number of diseased animals and therefore reporting very incomplete absolute data is confusing mainly for importing countries. Almost all communicable diseases have predominantly subclinical course and therefore ad hoc detected and reported cases represent only a small fragment of the reality. Therefore, there were used qualified estimates in a form of disease occurrence grade symbols. This very practical and useful system was abolished without any scientific and practical justification by the OIE in 1996 and replaced by non interpretable symbols “+” and ”…” “no information available” as follow-up of the World Trade Organization “Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures”(WTO/SPS), allegedly to “facilitate trade“!(?). This combination of these symbols is used in the overwhelming majority of reported diseases thus giving no idea about real epizootiological situation.
The OIE deliberately deleted, not respecting any epizootiological principles, the following disease occurrence symbols: exceptional occurrence, low sporadic occurrence, enzootic occurrence, high occurrence, disease exists - distribution and occurrence unknown, ubiquitous occurrence, recognized in country for the first time and occurrence only in imported animals (quarantine). All were replaced by one symbol not differentiating the disease occurrence in one case only or in millions of animals spread in all the country territory or in imported animals only, etc.. This arrangement is “blinding” the importing countries when considering disease situation in the exporting countries as basic information for risk evaluation to decide about the import of animals and their products. This antisanitary action could be understandable when considering that two of the most influential officers at the OIE HQs wrote that there is no necessity to know the disease situation in exporting countries for disease import risk assessment to be carried out (according to WTO/SPS and OIE Code absurd requirements) by importing countries when demanding healthy animals and innocuous products !? Other reason can be that exporting countries having very weak public veterinary services (as confirmed in the tables on the number of government veterinary officials – pages 739-743) are not in the position to control effectively disease situation and animal trade and to guarantee export of healthy animals and pathogen-free products. The indicator “number of outbreaks and cases“ is not distinguishing whether reported data inform on the values at the end of the period (point prevalence) or on new cases during the given period (incidence) - this is entirely different and represents another factor confusing the readers. Instead of obtaining more and more detailed information on a l l internationally reportable diseases in exporting countries, the importing countries have been getting significantly less information than a decade ago !
The data on all internationally reportable diseases are much more important than in the past when international trade was much less intensive in comparison with actual size, frequencies and distances and when OIE Code provisions were useful recommendations and not obligatory ones limiting ad absurdum health protection of importing countries. These countries need much more data on disease situation in exporting countries in order to be able to select the most suitable ones, to define necessary import conditions in order to avoid disease import and to prepare relevant post-import measures. Less, confusing or no information on exporting country disease situation can be understood as other form how to “facilitate trade”, including disease export. Therefore, the country tables on animal diseases’ status are of much lower practical value than before WTO/SPS. This incredible degradation of global animal health information system obviously corresponds with the new OIE trade philosophy “what does it matter what starting risk was when we have risk reducing tools ?”.
On page 381 in the “Index of diseases” a professional nonsense can be found: „Klobouk’s disease – see Rinderpest“ instead of „Klobouk’s disease – see Enterovirus encephalomyelitis“. I have been writing almost every year from 1997 to DG OIE asking to correct this absurdity, however without any attention being paid to this logical suggestion. Similar fate have had my other letters commenting that in OIE disease lists the term Brucella melitensis as scientific etiological entity has been missing. My repeated protests against the abolition of above mentioned previous satisfactory information system (DG OIE replied that it was the work of the “specialists for risk assessment” !?), suggestions to include very important zoonoses such as salmonelloses, plague, etc. as well as the requests to include numbers on disease surveillance investigations have not been accepted. Probably some of the most important exporting countries dominating the OIE are afraid of reporting the truth about insufficient disease investigations and knowledge of the situation. The OIE should be interested in scientific exactitude of its publications and in the improvement of strongly under-reporting information system.
The publication is the only one providing official information on animal disease situation in the world. Its most valuable parts are the unchanged textual country reports in the first volume in spite of being very often incomplete. The second volume provides further evidence that the OIE policy was changed from protecting consistently animal health into “facilitating trade” at the expense of animal and human health in importing countries thus behaving as an organization fully subordinated to WTO.
Prof.MVDr Václav K o u b a , DrSc.
P.S. More information see in: http://www.cbox.cz/vaclavkouba/globsurveillance.htm.