Transboundary animal diseases

Highly contagious epidemic diseases that can swiftly cross borders and affect both animals and humans, pose substantial socioeconomic and public health risks.

TADs are very dangerous as they threaten the global food supply through the loss of animal protein and animal derivatives and consequently reduce other animal products such as hides or fibres. Moreover, when people are infected by zoonoses, this also heavily affects human productivity.

Additional significant socioeconomic consequences result from the cost of check-ups and prevention measures, and from trade restrictions that can result from outbreaks. Unfortunately, TADs are predominantly in low-income developing nations, where people depend heavily on livestock, so the impact is very negative.
The Mediterranean basin countries are vulnerable to several TADs because of its geographical location. Particularly, the health status of the livestock population in North African countries is considered critical. The introduction of any of these transboundary diseases into a naive population, will most likely result in acute epidemic proportions.

It seems impossible at present to completely control an animal disease solely at a national level, because many countries of the area are dependent on each other’s animal disease status. Therefore, the establishment of early warning systems and proper implementation of control measures at the regional level are needed.

Regional strategies do not imply supranational structures and authority, but it is essentially based on the strengthening of present national veterinary authorities and structures. In addition, the regional approach has a better chance of attracting the interest of international organisations, that could become participants or donors.

The control and prevention of these diseases relies on rapid diagnostics and/or effective vaccination strategies. A better understanding of transmission, spread, and pathogenesis of these diseases is also required to provide better control and mitigate negative outcomes. This will necessitate the development of better characterised in vitro and animal models. Further work is also needed to improve the efficacy and cost of both diagnostics and vaccines.

Countries must ensure contingency planning and preparedness, and its veterinary services should be trained to face this type of situation. Field veterinary officers should be provided with adequate equipment to allow them to undertake proper disease investigation and to send good diagnostic specimens to the laboratory.

There are 3 main lines of defence against infectious animal diseases: quarantine stations and border checkpoints, diagnostic laboratories and Epidemiosurveillance systems.
Quarantine stations and border checkpoints are considered the first line of defence and must be under constant veterinary control and vigilance. Additional internal quarantine stations should be established to control animal movements and to limit the spread of infectious diseases and pests.
The second line of defence is diagnostic laboratories as early diagnosis may prevent the spread of diseases and may avoid costly control and eradication measures. Unfortunately, in most countries of the region, there are no sufficient means of securing a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of a suspected disease.
Lastly, Epidemiosurveillance systems have become a necessity and should be developed to allow each country of the region to detect the presence of the disease, estimate its prevalence, monitor its progress and follow-up, and assess the results of the measures taken. Moreover, risk analysis and assessment before importation may greatly strengthen the first line of defence.

The role of STOR-Remesa

    • Provide researchers and veterinarians with a current brief of details regarding these significant diseases. For each disease, we provide a synopsis and its current status, species and geographic areas affected by it, a summary of in vitro or in vivo research models, and when available, information regarding prevention or treatment.

    • Through its STC members, try to ensure follow-up and evaluation of activities.

    • Strengthening the funding capacity for the basic requirements for each country in the region in terms of facilities and qualified personnel for diagnostic activities of general pathology, bacteriology, virology, protozoology and parasitology. This will be done through the creation of a training program, continuing education and workshops for the whole actor program.

    • Establishing and strengthening network between National laboratories to exchange knowledge, techniques, biological products, specialists, and experts, through STOR-STC members.

    • Organise periodical meetings among representatives and delegates of veterinary services of REMESA member countries.

    • Try to fund research projects regarding:
        • Epidemiological surveys to establish a real idea of the situation

        • Elaboration of control programs adapted to each country´s conditions

        • Implementation of an epidemic-surveillance network

        • Identification of buffer zones between sub-regions and epidemiological zones