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International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Mon 27 Sep 2004
From: Maria Zampaglione <>
Source: Joint OIE/FAO press release, "Update on highly pathogenic avian
influenza control methods in Asia including use of vaccination", 27 Sep
2004 [edited]

New FAO guidelines published with support of the OIE
Bird flu is a crisis of global importance; [the] virus will not be
eradicated in the near future, FAO and OIE said. The avian influenza
epidemic in Asia is a "crisis of global importance" and will continue to
demand the attention of the international community for some time to come,
the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation
for Animal Health (OIE) said in a joint statement today [27 Sep 2004].

Recent outbreaks in China, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand show
that the virus continues to circulate in the region and will probably not
be eradicated in the near future, the 2 organizations said.

More research is urgently needed, as the role of wildlife, domestic ducks,
and pigs in transmitting the virus among animals is still not fully
understood. A permanent threat to animal and human health continues to exist.

While much progress has been made in early detection and reaction,
countries still need to step up proactive surveillance and control
measures. Major investments are required to strengthen veterinary services,
in particular for surveillance, early warning, detection, reporting, and
response, and, for the rehabilitation and restructuring of the poultry
sector, FAO/OIE said.

The newly published FAO Recommendations on the Prevention, Control and
Eradication of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Asia -- prepared
in close collaboration with OIE -- reviews the factors that should be taken
into account in designing and implementing control programs and explains
how countries can adopt a strategy appropriate to their individual situation.

In response to recent controversies concerning vaccination against bird
flu, OIE and FAO reiterated that the slaughter of infected animals is the
best way of controlling, and of ultimately stamping out, the disease.

However, FAO/OIE acknowledged that this policy may not be practical, or
adequate in certain countries, because of social and economic reasons, or,
because of high viral challenge due to infection in villages, wild birds,
or domestic waterfowl. In such cases, countries wishing to eradicate the
disease may choose to use vaccination as a complementary measure to the
stamping out policy.

The 2 agencies stressed that vaccines, if used, should be produced in
accordance with the international guidelines prescribed in the OIE Manual
of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals.

The OIE Terrestrial Code states that a country may be considered free from
HPAI based on the absence of virus, irrespective of whether vaccination has
been carried out. Therefore, the 2 organizations confirm that the use of
vaccines does not imply automatic loss of export markets.

It has been shown that the use of such vaccines does not only protect
healthy birds from disease but also reduces the load of viruses excreted by
infected birds and thus the likelihood of transmission of the virus to
other birds and to humans.

However, the decision on whether to use vaccines has to be made by each
country based on its own situation, OIE/FAO said.

The factors countries should consider in making their decision include
their ability to detect and react to the disease as early as possible and
the need for transparent and timely notification; this will have to be
supported by a good institutional framework and sound legislation
underpinning veterinary services.

Any vaccination strategy should be developed in consultation with all
stakeholders, including the private sector. The types of poultry and
production sectors to be vaccinated must be determined and clearly
documented. Infected poultry and those in contact with the virus should not
be vaccinated.

The 2 agencies said vaccination should be carried out under the supervision
of official veterinary services and be accompanied by a parallel
surveillance strategy. This would include the capacity of the veterinary
services to identify and monitor the circulating virus, as well as the
response to vaccination, by means including the use of non-vaccinated
sentinel birds and the application of serological tests capable of
differentiating infected from vaccinated animals.

Maria Zampaglione
OIE Communication Dept.

[While the EU requires absence of vaccination against HPAI for at least 3
years in order to allow import of live poultry and of non-heat-treated
poultry products, this policy is different from the OIE's official
requirements. Article of OIE's International Animal Health Code
says that a country can be considered HPAI-free 6 months after the
slaughter of the last affected animal, provided a stamping-out policy is
practiced "with or without vaccination against HPAI."

The EU requirements have been a decisive factor in Thailand's (a major
poultry-meat exporter) non-vaccination policy.

The EU's response to the current FAO/OIE recommendations will affect the
future vaccination policies of exporting countries, such as Thailand. - Mod.AS]