Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Contents | Index Foreword Glossary

User's guide

  1. Introduction

    1. The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (hereafter referred to as the Terrestrial Code) establishes standards for the improvement of terrestrial animal health and welfare and veterinary public health worldwide. The purpose of this guide is to advise the Veterinary Authorities of OIE Member Countries on how to use the Terrestrial Code.

    2. Veterinary Authorities should use the standards in the Terrestrial Code to set up measures providing for early detection, internal reporting, notification, control or eradication of pathogenic agents, including zoonotic ones, in terrestrial animals (mammals, birds, reptiles and bees) and preventing their spread via international trade in animals and animal products, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers to trade.

    3. The OIE standards are based on the most recent scientific and technical information. Correctly applied, they protect animal health and welfare and veterinary public health during production and trade in animals and animal products, and in the use of animals.

    4. The absence of chapters, articles or recommendations on particular pathogenic agents or commodities does not preclude the application of appropriate sanitary measures by the Veterinary Authorities, provided they are based on risk analyses conducted in accordance with the Terrestrial Code.

    5. The year that a chapter was first adopted and the year of its last revision are noted at the end of each chapter.

    6. The complete text of the Terrestrial Code is available on the OIE Web site and individual chapters may be downloaded from: http://www.oie.int.

  2. Terrestrial Code content

    1. Key terms and expressions used in more than one chapter in the Terrestrial Code are defined in the Glossary, in the case where common dictionary definitions are not deemed to be adequate. The reader should be aware of the definitions given in the Glossary when reading and using the Terrestrial Code. Defined terms appear in italics. In the on-line version of the Terrestrial Code, a hyperlink leads to the relevant definition.

    2. The term '(under study)' is found in some rare instances, with reference to an article or part of an article. This means that this part of the text has not been adopted by the World Assembly of OIE Delegates and the particular provisions are thus not part of the Terrestrial Code.

    3. The standards in the chapters of Section 1 are designed for the implementation of measures for the diagnosis, surveillance and notification of pathogenic agents. The standards include procedures for notification to the OIE, tests for international trade, and procedures for the assessment of the health status of a country, zone or compartment.

    4. The standards in Section 2 are designed to guide the importing country in conducting import risk analysis in the absence of OIE recommendations on particular pathogenic agents or commodities. The importing country should also use these standards to justify import measures which are more stringent than existing OIE standards.

    5. The standards in the chapters of Section 3 are designed for the establishment, maintenance and evaluation of Veterinary Services, including veterinary legislation and communication. These standards are intended to assist the Veterinary Services of Member Countries to meet their objectives of improving terrestrial animal health and welfare and veterinary public health, as well as to establish and maintain confidence in their international veterinary certificates.

    6. The standards in the chapters of Section 4 are designed for the implementation of measures for the prevention and control of pathogenic agents. Measures in this section include animal identification, traceability, zoning, compartmentalisation, disposal of dead animals, disinfection, disinsection and general hygiene precautions. Some chapters address the specific sanitary measures to be applied for the collection and processing of semen and embryos of animals.

    7. The standards in the chapters of Section 5 are designed for the implementation of general sanitary measures for trade. They address veterinary certification and the measures applicable by the exporting, transit and importing countries. A range of model veterinary certificates is provided to facilitate consistent documentation in international trade.

    8. The standards in the chapters of Section 6 are designed for the implementation of preventive measures in animal production systems. These measures are intended to assist Member Countries in meeting their veterinary public health objectives. They include ante- and post-mortem inspection, control of hazards in feed, biosecurity at the animal production level, and the control of antimicrobial resistance in animals.

    9. The standards in the chapters of Section 7 are designed for the implementation of animal welfare measures. The standards cover production, transport, and slaughter or killing, as well as the animal welfare aspects of stray dog population control and the use of animals in research and education.

    10. The standards in each of the chapters of Sections 8 to 15 are designed to prevent the pathogenic agents of OIE listed diseases, infections or infestations from being introduced into an importing country. The standards take into account the nature of the traded commodity, the animal health status of the exporting country, zone or compartment, and the risk reduction measures applicable to each commodity.

      These standards assume that the agent is either not present in the importing country or is the subject of a control or eradication programme. Sections 8 to 15 each relate to the host species of the pathogenic agent: multiple species or single species of Apidae, Aves, Bovidae, Equidae, Leporidae, Caprinae and Suidae. Some chapters include specific measures to prevent and control the infections of global concern. Although the OIE aims to include a chapter for each OIE listed disease, not all OIE listed diseases have been covered yet by a specific chapter. This is work in progress, depending on available scientific knowledge and the priorities set by the World Assembly.

  3. Specific issues

    1. Notification

      Chapter 1.1. describes Member Countries' obligations under OIE Organic Statutes. Listed and emerging diseases, as prescribed in Chapter 1.1., are compulsorily notifiable. Member Countries are encouraged to also provide information to the OIE on other animal health events of epidemiological significance.

      Chapter 1.2. describes the criteria for the inclusion of an infection or infestation in the OIE List and Chapter 1.3. gives the current list. Diseases are divided into nine categories based on the host species of the aetiological agents.

    2. Diagnostic tests and vaccines

      It is recommended that specified diagnostic tests and vaccines in Terrestrial Code chapters be used with a reference to the relevant section in the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals (hereafter referred to as the Terrestrial Manual). Experts responsible for facilities used for disease diagnosis and vaccine production should be fully conversant with the standards in the Terrestrial Manual.

    3. Freedom from a disease, infection or infestation

      Article 1.4.6. provides general principles for declaring a country or zone free from a disease, infection or infestation. This article applies when there are no specific requirements in the listed disease-specific chapter.

    4. Prevention and control

      Chapters 4.3. and 4.4. describe the measures that should be implemented to establish zones and compartments. Zoning and compartmentalisation should be considered as some of the tools used to control diseases and to facilitate safe trade. Chapters 4.5. to 4.11. describe the measures which should be implemented during collection and processing of semen and embryos of animals, including micromanipulation and cloning, in order to prevent animal health risks, especially when trading these commodities. Although the measures relate principally to OIE listed diseases or infections, general standards apply to all infectious disease risks. Moreover, in Chapter 4.7. diseases that are not listed are marked as such but are included for the information of Member Countries.

      Chapter 4.14. addresses the specific issue of the control of bee diseases and some of its trade implications. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the specific bee disease chapters in Section 9.

      Chapter 6.5. is designed for the implementation of general biosecurity measures in intensive poultry production. Chapters 6.6., 6.13. and 6.14. provide recommendations for some specific on-farm prevention and control plans for the unlisted food-borne pathogenic agent Salmonella as part of the Veterinary Services mission to prevent, eliminate or control food safety hazards in animal production.

      Chapter 6.12. deals specifically with the zoonotic risk associated with the movements of non-human primates and gives standards for certification, transportation and import conditions for these animals.

    5. Trade requirements

      Animal health measures related to international trade should be based on OIE standards. A Member Country may authorise the importation of animals or animal products into its territory under conditions different from those recommended by the Terrestrial Code. To scientifically justify more stringent measures, the importing country should conduct a risk analysis in accordance with OIE standards, as described in Chapter 2.1. Members of the WTO should refer to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).

      Chapters 5.1. to 5.3. describe the obligations and ethical responsibilities of importing and exporting countries in international trade. Veterinary Authorities and all veterinarians directly involved in international trade should be familiar with these chapters. Chapter 5.3. also describes the OIE informal procedure for dispute mediation.

      The OIE aims to include an article listing the commodities that are considered safe for trade without the need for risk mitigation measures specifically directed against a particular listed disease, infection or infestation, regardless of the status of the country or zone of origin for the agent in question, at the beginning of each listed disease-specific chapter in Sections 8 to 15. This is work in progress and some chapters do not yet contain articles listing safe commodities. When a list of safe commodities is present in a chapter, importing countries should not apply trade restrictions to such commodities with respect to the agent in question.

    6. International veterinary certificates

      An international veterinary certificate is an official document that the Veterinary Authority of an exporting country issues in accordance with Chapters 5.1. and 5.2. It lists animal health requirements and, where appropriate, public health requirements for the exported commodity. The quality of the exporting country's Veterinary Services is essential in providing assurances to trading partners regarding the safety of exported animals and products. This includes the Veterinary Services' ethical approach to the provision of veterinary certificates and their history in meeting their notification obligations.

      International veterinary certificates underpin international trade and provide assurances to the importing country regarding the health status of the animals and products imported. The measures prescribed should take into account the health status of both exporting and importing countries, and zones or compartments within them, and be based upon the standards in the Terrestrial Code.

      The following steps should be taken when drafting international veterinary certificates:

      1. identify the diseases, infections or infestations from which the importing country is justified in seeking protection because of its own health status. Importing countries should not impose measures in regards to diseases that occur in their own territory but are not subject to official control programmes;

      2. for commodities capable of transmitting these diseases, infections or infestations through international trade, the importing country should apply the relevant articles in the listed disease-specific chapters. The application of the articles should be adapted to the disease status of the country, zone or compartment of origin. Such status should be established according to Article 1.4.6. except when articles of the relevant listed disease chapter specify otherwise;

      3. when preparing international veterinary certificates, the importing country should endeavour to use terms and expressions in accordance with the definitions given in the Glossary. International veterinary certificates should be kept as simple as possible and should be clearly worded, to avoid misunderstanding of the importing country's requirements;

      4. Chapters 5.10. to 5.13. provide, as further guidance to Member Countries, model certificates that should be used as a baseline.

    7. Guidance notes for importers and exporters

      It is recommended that Veterinary Authorities prepare 'guidance notes' to assist importers and exporters understand trade requirements. These notes should identify and explain the trade conditions, including the measures to be applied before and after export and during transport and unloading, and the relevant legal obligations and operational procedures. The guidance notes should advise on all details to be included in the health certification accompanying the consignment to its destination. Exporters should also be reminded of the International Air Transport Association rules governing air transport of animals and animal products.

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