Joint WHO/FAO/OIE Technical Consultation on BSE:
Public Health, Animal Health and Trade
Paris - BSE/vCJD disease
should be considered as an international issue as potentially infected
BSE materials have been ditsributed throughout the world through trade
of live cattle, certain cattle products and by-products. All countries
are urged to evaluate their potential exposure and should take necessary
actions, according to the recommendations of the four-day technical
consultation which ended today.
It was a joint meeting on Bovine Spongiform
Encephalopathy (BSE) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Food
and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Animal Health
Organisation (OIE). The conference was a major step towards
strengthening their efforts and speak with one voice about the risks
associated with BSE and vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).
More than 150 veterinarians, food safety experts and
health officials called upon governments to consider the ban the feeding
of meat and bone meal (MBM) to ruminants and to put in place
surveillance and testing.
The consultation adopted the following main
- The original source and movement of animals and animal products,
including MBM, can be masked by international trading patterns which
often include the processing and re-export of products.
Consequently, importing countries should be aware of risks generated
by these existing trading patterns and illegal trade.
- Countries should not become complacent about their risk from BSE.
The extremely low initial incidence and limited clustering of BSE
cases, protracted latency and non-specific nature of the early
clinical signs of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy tend to mask the
severity of the problem.
- All countries are urged to evaluate their potential exposure
through systematic assessment of trade data and possible risk
factors. In addition, countries should be aware that their trading
status may be dependent upon the risk assessment for BSE.
- Additional resources should be made available to assist nations
particularly in the developing world in assessing their potential
exposure to BSE-infected materials and in identifying measures which
may be necessary for managing the risk associated with this
- The OIE has developed guidelines for assessing the BSE risk status
of regions, countries and zones. More specific guidance for
conducting these risk assessments, taking advantage of the
experience of countries and other international organizations are
- Protection of public health is the overarching goal of BSE risk
management. Risk management strategies must be science-based,
transparent and not more trade restrictive than necessary for health
protection. Implementation of the chosen risk management options
must be strictly enforced to protect global health and trade.
Efforts by authorities must be directed at ensuring full compliance.
- Ruminant MBM and greaves should not be fed in any case to ruminant
animals. Monitoring of compliance with the feed bans needs further
development of reliable certification programs and screening tests
to guarantee the absence of BSE infectivity in ruminant feedstuffs
traded internationally. Emphasis must be placed on the development
of rapid and reliable tests for the detection of ruminant protein.
- Countries should strongly consider, on the basis of the risk
assessment, the use of appropriate tests on target animal
- The consultation considered that BSE contaminated MBM will have
been fed to some sheep and goats and that these species may have
been infected with BSE agent. It is therefore recommended that
individual countries assess the risk that BSE infection is present
in their indigenous sheep/goat population. All countries are
encouraged to require notification and surveillance for TSE diseases
of sheep/goats and to take steps to mitigate risks identified.
- In countries where sheep and goat populations have been
potentially exposed to BSE infectivity, measures should be taken to
minimise the exposure of humans to infectivity from sheep and goats.
- Efforts to investigate the presence of natural BSE in sheep and
goats should be continued.
- The research available to date indicates that oral BSE challenge
of pigs and poultry does not result in disease and that there is no
evidence for residual infectivity present in tissues.
- Scientists should continue to be proactive, take the initiative to
communicate new information about BSE and its risks, as it becomes
available, even though it may be unsettling to the public. They
should make clear what is being done to address these risks.
Journalists who would like more information about the
issues discussed are welcome to contact:firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO; E-mail: Fadéla Chaïb, Tel: (+ 41 22) 791 3228 or Mobile phone
(+33 6) 721 766 35, E-mail:
FAO, Erwin Northoff, Tel:( + 39
06 ) 570 5 3105 or Mobile phone (+39 348) 2572921; E-mail: email@example.com
OIE, Maria Zampaglione, Tel: (+
33 1) 44 151 881), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
All WHO Press releases, Fact Sheets and Features can be obtained on the
WHO web site: http://www.who.int