Taiwan's delegation to the 85th General Session(GS) of the World Assembly of Delegates of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris sent exciting positive news on May 25 that Taiwan, Penghu, and Matsu islands had been officially recognized as a “FMD-free zone where vaccination is practiced” by the OIE. In the meantime, the classical swine fever (CSF) Laboratory of COA’s Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) is officially designated as a CSF reference laboratory by the OIE.
Taiwan, Penghu, and Matsu have been listed as FMD-free with vaccination
The COA explained that the OIE is the highest level animal health organization in the world and has a total of 181 Member Countries. It holds a GS annually in Paris each May. Taiwan, as one of the official Member Countries, participates regularly in the GS every year and actively cooperates with the OIE and other Member Countries. The COA wishes to extend its gratitude towards frontline disease control personnel and researchers as well as industrial sectors, since the official recognition of a FMD-free with vaccination would not have been achieved without their dedication and support. The COA would continue to work closely with other sectors in order to strengthen Taiwan’s disease control and quarantine measures, aiming to reach the goal of becoming an FMD-free country where vaccination is not practiced. The COA stated that regarding Kinmen County, which is yet to be ratified by the OIE, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) has launched preparatory process of applying for recognition to the OIE.
Taiwan becomes one of the OIE CSF reference laboratories
The designation of a CSF reference laboratory by the OIE is a significant achievement for the AHRI, which has been conducting research on CSF for several decades. The AHRI successfully developed the Lapinized Philippines Coronel (LPC) vaccine which proved to be effective in controlling the CSF epidemic; to date, Taiwan has been without CSF cases for more than 10 years. The AHRI has been playing a crucial role in stabilizing the development of Taiwan’s pig farming industry. With OIE’s approval, it became one of the 8 CSF reference laboratories standing side by side with Germany, England, Poland, Canada, Japan, Spain and Mainland China. The laboratory’s leading expert Dr. Chang Chia-yi (PhD) has been devoted to the study of CSF after joining the AHRI, with her doctorate dissertation based on the disease. Chang has participated and spoken extensively in both domestic and international seminars and has more than 10 papers published in top scientific journals, making Dr. Chang’s research and reputation highly respected in the CSF research domain. The fact that Taiwan has been admitted into this prestigious and well-respected network of reference laboratories proves that the effort Taiwan has invested into CSF research has won recognition by the international community. Furthermore, it shows that Taiwan’s research quality is on a par with other leading laboratories in the world.
The COA explained that animal health research in Taiwan has been very fruitful. In addition to the recently certified CSF reference laboratory, another OIE designated reference laboratory of Taiwan is led by National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) Professor Lo Chu-fang; he focuses on the aquatic animal white spot disease virus. The Council would continue to assist other outstanding researchers to apply for OIE certifications, with the expectation of making Taiwan the leading country in the field of animal health research in Asia.
Actively applying for FMD-free country status
Taiwan has achieved positive results in FMD control. After resolution of the last case of type O FMD in May 2013, Taiwan Main Island, Penghu County and Lianjiang County has maintained a clean record of zero FMD cases for more than 2 years, meeting OIE's criteria for “FMD-free Zone where vaccination is practiced”. Therefore, the BAPHIQ submitted the application of Taiwan, Penghu and Matsu to the OIE in October 2015. Kinmen was not included in the application due to 2 separate cases of type A FMD reported in May and June 2015.
The process of applying for the FMD-free zone recognition was notoriously strenuous. The OIE was hesitant about the movement control measures of cloven hoofed animal meat from Kinmen to Taiwan; thus, it turned down the application. However, after BAPHIQ’s relentless effort in explaining thoroughly to the OIE and Kinmen County government’s active cooperation in enhancing movement control of cloven hoofed animals and meat thereof to Taiwan, the OIE later agreed to reconsider Taiwan’s application and subsequently requested the resubmission of the updated questionnaire in July 2016. The BAPHIQ thus complied with the request in August and has provided in several occasions supplementary documentations which eventually led to the final adoption of OIE.
Controlling FMD and classical swine fever is helpful to the industrial development and international trading
The COA further explains that FMD and CSF are serious infectious diseases that affect cattle and pigs. These two highly infectious, disease not only threaten the production safety of animal husbandry in the country but also affects the international trading of related animals and animal products. In the past, even though Taiwan possessed excellent breeding technology and consequently its livestock breeds were preferred by foreign businesses, being FMD and CSF infected area has hampered the export of livestock. Moreover, related animal products such as fresh pork which used to dominate the Japanese market in the past, has been unexportable in recent years. Fortunately, Taiwan’s animal disease control and research achievements are highly recognized internationally nowadays; this in turn helps the expansion of overseas markets for Taiwan’s animals and animal products.
The COA stresses that along with the honor of having CSF reference laboratories, there is greater responsibility. In the future, in addition to offering technical help on CSF diagnosis to other OIE Member Countries, the work on innovating CSF diagnostic technologies would continue to be carried out. Relevant resources would be shared in order to help control global CSF epidemic more effectively. As a responsible OIE Member Country, Taiwan will continue to make substantive contribution to the international community.
Taiwan has been officially recognized as “FMD-free zone where vaccination is practiced” by the OIE. In the meantime, the CSF Laboratory of COA’s AHRI is officially designated as CSF reference laboratory by the OIE.