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A stepwise approach for progressive control of brucellosis in animals

25 January 2013- Despite advances in surveillance and control, the prevalence of brucellosis is increasing in many developing countries because of sanitary, socio-economic and political factors. Many countries in post-communist transition face a sharp increase in zoonotic diseases resulting from the breakdown of government-run disease surveillance and control and weak private health and veterinary services. The disease remains a challenge in many countries in the Mediterranean and the Near East. Fast-growing demand for milk, the subsequent upsurge in peri-urban dairy production, and a lack of adequate food safety practices have been identified as risk factors for human brucellosis in many developing countries.

With varying degrees of success, most countries have attempted to combat brucellosis, leading to changes in its global distribution over time. Control programmes are planned or ongoing throughout the world, adopting different approaches and targeting different priorities. In some developing countries, however, the implementation of these control programmes is not always based on an epidemically sound strategy, and the programmes are not planned and sustained for a sufficiently long term to achieve their initial objectives.

To assist member countries in launching, correcting and pursuing brucellosis control programmes aimed at controlling and eradicating brucellosis in animals and humans, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is developing a roadmap for progressive control of brucellosis. The roadmap describes a sequence of activities that reduce brucellosis in livestock and humans, eventually leading to the self-declaration of brucellosis-free status as defined by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code. The roadmap consists of four main stages designed to make brucellosis control a progressive process. The four stages of the roadmap are carefully crafted to allow national veterinary authorities to identify the stage that corresponds to conditions in each livestock system in a particular zone or across the whole country.

Veterinary authorities can then enter the most appropriate stage for each situation. It should be noted that there is no set time frame for moving from one stage of the roadmap to another. This is because in any country, region or zone, several livestock systems coexist, and different systems are likely to be at different stages of the control pathway, so will require different strategies. Progress over time therefore varies among livestock systems and among the different regions or zones within a single country. Progress in reducing brucellosis prevalence is normally fastest in confined livestock systems and proceeds at different paces for extensive and smallholder systems.

As well as descriptions of the four stages of progressive brucellosis control, the roadmap also provides basic information on control tools and strategies, such as a review of control options, recent practical experiences, accepted international opinions, lessons learned from the field, and innovations from research. Links to technical tools and supporting literature or accepted international opinion give national veterinary authorities additional confidence in undertaking roadmap activities. Major issues are discussed, and the text clearly stipulates instances where information is lacking or data are controversial or contradictory.

Externalities and enabling factors that might influence the course of progressive brucellosis control are highlighted in the roadmap text. Examples of externalities and the prerequisites for implementing a control option provide national authorities with insights into essential management considerations and recognized best practices. They emphasize the importance of components such as competent field and laboratory services, enabling legislation, effective animal movement control and a compensation system for test-and-removal of animals.


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