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  • 14 June 2012, Rome, Italy – Group photo of participants to Rinderpest FAO/OIE Joint Advisory Committee Meeting, FAO headquarters

FAO-OIE Rinderpest Joint Advisory Committee


FAO-OIE united in rinderpest post-eradication programme

The joint advisory committee (JAC) is made up of seven of the most highly qualified external advisors in veterinary virology, diagnostics, vaccinology, epidemiology, contingency planning, biothreat reduction and bio-safety/biosecurity, as well as one scientific representative each from the OIE and FAO. The Joint Advisory Committee met officially for the first time on 14-15 June, 2012 to formalize the workplan for the coming months. The Joint Advisory Committee manage follow-up activities under the post-eradication strategy.

One of the major priorities is to ensure secure handling and sequestration of rinderpest virus in the post eradication era. Rinderpest virus and samples still remain in the laboratories of some 20 countries worldwide. FAO and OIE assist with cataloging precious virus seed to deposit in high biocontainment facilities to avoid the virus from being accidentally and even intentionally released into the wider environment. Additionally Contingency plan will be developed to immediately combat the spread of disease, should the virus reappear.

“We shouldn’t allow the word “eradicated” to lull us into a false sense of security – but nor is there a need for alarmism,” said Juan Lubroth, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer and Chief of its Animal Health Service. “We need to remain vigilant, and that means keeping some rinderpest samples safe in a lab. If rinderpest ever makes an unwelcome appearance again, vaccines can be produced from the viruses still living in those labs.”

After the global declaration of Rinderpest eradication, the following actions were recommended:

  • maintaining veterinary training programs in field surveillance and diagnostics to quickly identify and respond to a potential rinderpest outbreak
  • using the lessons learned in the long campaign to eradicate rinderpest to tackle other major animal diseases, including peste des petits ruminants, a similar viral disease affecting small ruminants (mainly sheep and goats)
  • establishing protocols for scientific study and manipulations of the rinderpest virus in a lab setting
  • contingency planning, including an emergency vaccination strategy, should rinderpest re-emerge.

Terms of Reference

  • Review all FAO (including FAO/IAEA) projects devoted to rinderpest surveillance, diagnosis, containment, and research, including those projects where FAO may not have been a lead organization;
  • Receive reports from the OIE on the infection free status of countries and territories and other related information, as well as ongoing activities of FAO and OIE to assist countries and territories to submit required dossiers for official recognition of their free status by OIE.
  • Advise the Directors General of both organizations indicating whether the evidence presented to the Committee entitles them to announce that rinderpest virus has ceased to circulate in the world;
  • Prepare, based on the technical assistance of the OIE Biological Standards Commission, a draft international agreement on the elimination of rinderpest virus and other potentially dangerous biological materials in laboratories and other places and on the choice of a limited number of centres where sample materials can be stored safely for research or vaccine production purposes;
  • Advise OIE and FAO on surveillance and emergency vaccination policy applicable after eradication; and,
  • Contribute to guiding the preparation of a publication on the history of rinderpest and its global eradication.