Fiebre Aftosa – Desafío

Title: Challenges faced by Uruguay and South America under the Hemispheric Program for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease

Dr. Raúl Casas Olascoaga


In 1987, the V Inter American Ministerial Meeting on Animal Health entrusted PAHO and the South American Commission for Foot and Mouth Disease (COSALFA) to develop the Hemispheric Program for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease (PHEFA). The “Hemispheric Committee for Eradication of Foot-and-Mouth Disease” (COHEFA), established in 1988, includes representatives of the Southern Cone, Andean, Amazonian, Mesoamerica, Caribbean and North America sub-regions. COHEFA received and endorsed the proposal of the PHEFA Plan of Action from PANAFTOSA/PAHO and recommended countries to support their FMD eradication programs, to ensure political commitment, strategies and resources to meet the goals in the PHEFA, to complete the continental eradication of FMD and end vaccination in South America..

In its “Plan of Action 2011-2020”, approved in 2010, PHEFA should enforce sanitary regulations to promote technical cooperation and epidemiological surveillance, based on responsible and scientific risk assessment and the continued vulnerability analysis, the availability of contingency plans and the systematic and responsible application of the “Technical Working Guide” approved by COSALFA in 2015.

Recommendations: 1) Promote education and training of human resources; 2) Use new technologies to increase the productivity and efficiency of national animal health systems and international connections. 3) Urge countries to enforce the standards and recommendations of the OIE’s Terrestrial Code and the scientific risk assessment and mandatory FMD notification in their international trade of animals/animal products. 4) Enforce strict biosafety and bio-containment systems in diagnostic laboratories for vesicular diseases (specifically for FMD), as well as at vaccines plants. 5) Strengthen the environmental protection biosafety and biosecurity systems in all laboratories handling active FMD viruses to prevent leaks. 6) Strict and efficient control of animals/animal products imports from FMD susceptible species and customs passenger controls. 7) Systematic audits to verify compliance with biosecurity and bio-containment systems. 8) Promote regional concentrated antigens banks of the main FMDV topotypes stored at ultra-low temperatures in liquid nitrogen to extend the antigens’ validity. 9) These banks would formulate potent vaccines to respond to serious health emergencies, and serious re-emergence of FMDV in an FMD-free territory. 10) The Region shall negotiate access to anti-FMD antigens and vaccines available at USA, EU and South American banks under the FMD PHEFA. 11) All regulations and standards must contribute to the vaccination-free status in the Americas. 12) Recognize, apply and demand animal welfare standards in line with the “we are all responsible” principle.


Dr. Raúl Casas Olascoaga graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of the Republic (Uruguay). His post-graduate studies included microbiology, infectious diseases, and vaccine production and control at Welcome Research Laboratories (England) and Cornell University (USA), as well as administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil). After holding several positions in the private and public animal health sector he joined the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO) and served as Scientist of the Pan American Zoonoses Center from 1973 to 1976 and Director of the Pan American Foot and Mouth Disease Center (PANAFTOSA) from 1976 to 1991. During his tenure at PANAFTOSA he worked towards the planning, funding and organization of the eradication of FMD in the Americas by developing and helping establish agreements between the countries. In 2003, Dr. Casas received the Presidential Medal of Honor for his contributions to veterinary science and to animal health from Dr. Jorge Battle, president of Uruguay and among other awards, he received the OIE Meritorious Award (2003).  In 2010 he became Professor Emeritus of the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of the Republic in Uruguay and has served as academic since 1992, and President of the National Academy of Veterinary Science (Uruguay) (2009-2012).