Taking note of the significant adverse impact that rinderpest and other epidemic diseases make on food security;
Considering that with cessation of rinderpest vaccination, provisional freedom from rinderpest has now been declared to OIE for the Gambia, Togo, Guinea, Egypt and a large part of India and that many other West African countries have undertaken to take similar action in the near future;
Recognising that rinderpest control in the world has been successful and has proceeded to a point where the disease is largely confined to a small number of defined foci and that the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) is now entering a phase in which intensive action is required to eliminate the remaining foci of rinderpest infection whilst safeguarding those areas already cleared of the disease;
Examining the current status and impact of rinderpest in the world as indicators of the progress of control and eradication efforts;
Endorsing fully the concept of a coordinated FAO EMPRES-led international initiative to drive the programme to international eradication by the year 2010;
Expressing appreciation for the valuable contribution of the donor community, international agencies and non-governmental organisations in supporting concerted national and regional rinderpest control programmes;
Acknowledging the valuable contribution made by the FAO World Reference Laboratory for Rinderpest to rinderpest diagnosis and surveillance and the increasing importance of such technology in supporting the progress of GREP;
Commending the valuable contribution made by the International Atomic Energy Agency in collaborating with the FAO in sustaining the global network of laboratories for rinderpest diagnosis and surveillance;
Realising that for GREP to be successful it is essential that the global status of rinderpest be clearly defined, that emergency preparedness be enhanced in all areas which could conceivably be at risk and that continuing uncertainty over certain areas of the globe could seriously jeopardise the future progress of GREP;
the Technical Consultation Meeting RECOMMENDED that:
1 FAO Rome, 22–24 July 1996
The adverse impact that rinderpest and other epidemic diseases make on food security be brought to the attention of the forthcoming FAO World Food Summit, highlighting the goal of global rinderpest eradication by the year 2010.
Any occurrence of rinderpest outside the currently known foci be considered an international emergency.
FAO should consider as a priority the need for EMPRES to actively promote in the areas of GREP adoption of the principles of emergency preparedness through early warning and early reaction and establish without delay the proposed regional EMPRES units; the proposed EMPRES Global Early Warning System element should be established rapidly with special attention being paid to rinderpest.
All countries which have not experienced the disease for two years or more and for which there is not a serious risk of reinfection from neighbouring countries or trading partners should cease vaccination and enter on the OIE Pathway; countries in this situation should be counselled by the GREP Secretariat. It was specifically recommended that Nepal should immediately take this action to bring its status into line with that of northern India.
The international community of donors and international agencies should continue support for rinderpest control programmes, without which the goal of global eradication can not be achieved, with special attention being paid to the remaining areas of rinderpest persistence.
FAO should secure funding to ensure continuance of the World Reference Laboratory for Rinderpest and enhance its capacity for undertaking a broader range of activities, in particular to extend its differential diagnostic capability and to finalise development and field testing of the rapid pen-side test.
FAO and the International Atomic Agency should ensure continuance and strengthening of the joint venture to sustain the global network of laboratories for rinderpest diagnosis and surveillance.
In the execution of GREP, at this time, the following subjects must be accorded special attention.
8.1 All countries in GREP should be exhorted to adopt a time-bound programme leading to verified rinderpest eradication as enshrined in the OIE Pathway. Whilst national declarations of rinderpest freedom within distinct regional cohorts is preferred, the policy of zonation based on sound epidemiological principles, was endorsed as an aid towards reducing expenditure in eradication campaigns and allowing attention to be focused on more difficult areas. In support of this the OIE should be requested to:
rectify the anomaly that exists between the OIE Pathway as adopted by the OIE International Committee and the OIE International Health Code with respect to the adoption of zoning for declarations of freedom;
redefine the requirement of cessation of vaccination required as a prerequisite for a declaration of provisional freedom from rinderpest disease to ensure that it is taken to mean the cessation of all immunisation of cattle and buffaloes intended to prevent the transmission of rinderpest virus in these species. The use of heterologous vaccines in cattle and buffaloes as a replacement for homologous rinderpest vaccine merely to satisfy the requirement for entry onto the Pathway should be deemed unacceptable.
8.2 Repeated outbreaks of rinderpest in Turkey, attributed to sporadic reinvasions of the country through cattle trade, are a cause of concern for GREP and demands epidemiological explanation. The three neighbouring countries of Turkey, Iraq and Iran should collaborate in undertaking the required epidemiological studies as a priority. For Turkey, this requires organising and directing their epidemiological expertise, within a structured national and regional epidemiological service, to address this specific issue. The three countries should, with assistance, then use the information gained to devise and implement a coordinated transboundary rinderpest eradication programme.
8.3 Specific action is required with respect to Pakistan where the existence of extensive and largely uncontrolled rinderpest is a serious domestic problem as well as posing a proven threat to neighbouring countries and trading partners. Implementation of a federally coordinated national rinderpest eradication programme is urgently needed as a critical issue for the timely progression of GREP. Elements of the required programme must include an active disease surveillance and reporting system supported by rinderpest recognition and awareness training and adequate enhanced diagnostic capability, to provide the basis for an epidemiology-driven control strategy implemented by strengthened national and state veterinary services. The consultation also noted the serious implications of the spread of rinderpest from Pakistan to Afghanistan and, whilst acknowledging the value of the necessarily short term action being undertaken by FAO, identified the need for more comprehensive longer term action to be taken to protect both the rest of the country and adjacent Asian states currently infection free but vulnerable.
8.4 In view of the possible existence of a cryptic endemic focus of rinderpest in Kenya, southern Somalia and southern Ethiopia caused by a virus strain of unusual mildness in cattle, stressed the importance of continuing intensive investigations in these ares until the issue is resolved. Recognising that such a strain might be maintained in a transmission chain involving cattle, wildlife and small ruminants, and that in cattle clinical disease might not be always apparent, all available investigation methods, including participatory community dialogue, should be applied to defining its possible existence and territorial range.
8.5 The occurrence of rinderpest within the last five years on the Mongolian/Russian border, at a great distance from the nearest known infected area, could indicate an unidentified persisting source which threatens the status of countries in the region. Unless identified and eliminated this could conceivably lead to a re-emergence of rinderpest in the future. Attention must be focused on the Central Asian Republics with adjacent areas of the Russian Federation, Mongolia and China to assist national authorities to be prepared for this eventuality.
8.6 Sporadic outbreaks of rinderpest have been experienced in the Arabian Peninsula probably as a result of introduction through trade. However, it is known that rinderpest persisted for some years in the Yemen and there is still some remaining uncertainty over the circumstances relating to outbreaks of rinderpest in Oman and the Gulf States. For their own protection, and as an important matter for GREP, the national authorities should be assisted to clarify their epidemiological status leading to refinement of eradication strategies.
The GREP Secretariat should identify and develop procedures to enhance public awareness of the campaign to ensure full understanding and cooperation of all those involved in the livestock industry. In addition the factors that provide incentive for and encourage the open acknowledgement and reporting of rinderpest by livestock owners and government authorities should be identified and used to develop strategies for their promotion.
Performance indicators should be identified by GREP to assist national veterinary authorities in conducting active disease surveillance and to facilitate monitoring progress made towards global eradication.
The need to improve the submission of samples for the detection and characterisation of rinderpest viruses as an aid to epidemiological understanding requires attention:
samples from all outbreaks encountered in countries generally considered to be free from infection, and especially where these are of special epidemiological significance, must be submitted to the World Reference Laboratory for molecular characterisation; in support of this GREP should endeavour to establish a mechanism to assist countries in the international transport of samples;
an adequate number of regional reference laboratories should be appointed and funded in accordance with predetermined criteria for their designation and their communication linkages with national laboratories and the World Reference Laboratory should be ensured as a component of the EMPRES Global Early Warning System.
In view of the valuable role that a heterologous or recombinant vaccine could play in serological differentiation of vaccinated and infected cattle, most importantly in immune barriers and after elimination of introduced disease by ring vaccination, the required research to support the potential use of candidate vaccines should be identified and funded as a matter urgency. In this context remaining constraints to making available the candidate PPR homologous attenuated vaccine must be identified and resolved without delay.