O.I.E. links climate change, occurrences of animal diseases

by Bryan Salvage
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PARIS — Many World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.) member countries recently confirmed that climate changes impact the emergence and re-emergence of animal diseases in a worldwide study conducted by the O.I.E. among its national delegates.

"More countries are indicating climate change has been responsible for at least one emerging or re-emerging disease occurring on their territory," said Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the O.I.E. "This is a reality we cannot ignore and we must help veterinary services throughout the world to equip themselves with systems that comply with international standards of good governance so as to deal with this problem."

Conclusions of the study on the "Impact of climate change and environmental changes on emerging and re-emerging animal disease and animal production," presented by Australian expert Dr. Peter Black, call for a new approach to prevent these new dangers.

O.I.E. members have consequently mandated the organization to address this issue by using its scientific capabilities and networks, especially at global, regional and sub-regional levels. They advocate new action at the level of research, national capacity building for public and private sector animal-health systems and communication in order to prevent or reduce the effects of climate change on animal production and diseases, including those transmissible to humans.

A total of 126 O.I.E. member countries and territories participated in the study. Among them, 71% stated they were extremely concerned at the expected impact of climate change on emerging and re-emerging diseases. Fifty-eight percent identified at least one emerging or re-emerging disease on their territory that was believed to be associated with climate change.

Three animal diseases most frequently mentioned by the O.I.E. members who responded were bluetongue, Rift Valley fever and West Nile fever.

Most countries also consider that human influence on the environment has an impact on climate change and consequently on the emergence or re-emergence of animal diseases.

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