CFIA reviewing reportable diseases

Due for an update | Ten of the 31 on the list have never been found in Canada

OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is reassessing the list of animal diseases that it deems reportable, immediately notifiable and annually notifiable.

Dr. Penny Greenwood, national manager of domestic disease control for the CFIA, said the current list is due for an update.

“A lot of the things that we used to put the specific diseases on the reportable list have come and gone,” Greenwood told a recent meeting of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council.

“There’s no objective criteria that we have to say, ‘oh yes, this disease meets these criteria, therefore it should be a reportable disease,’ or ‘no, it doesn’t meet these criteria and therefore it shouldn’t be a reportable disease.’ So that’s a big issue.”

Lack of specific criteria could potentially delay federal response in the face of serious zoonotic diseases, which are those that can also affect people.

Animal diseases on the CFIA’s reportable list are those deemed important to either animal or human health or to the Canadian economy. Anyone suspecting an animal to have one of the 31 diseases on the list must report it immediately to a CFIA veterinarian.

Ten of the 31 diseases on that list have never been found in Canada, but it does contain such things as BSE, brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, equine infectious anemia and scrapie.

The CFIA still lists anthrax on its reportable list, even though it stopped investigating anthrax cases last year and no longer funds vaccination or disposal of animals that die from it.

Rabies was similarly removed from direct CFIA intervention.

Greenwood said there are gaps and overlaps in jurisdictional responsibilities based on how a disease is listed.

“I think we have to drop the word reportable,” she said.

The World Organization for Animal Health is examining its defining criteria for reportability, as is the American Association for Animal Health, said Greenwood.

The CFIA has already done extensive work on developing a decision tree that will help officials determine how to define animal diseases and how to decide which jurisdiction should take the lead role if a disease is discovered.

Greenwood said the goal is to develop a more flexible response to animal disease because situations can change quickly.

The CFIA has 43 animal diseases on its list of those that are immediately notifiable, which means only labs need to report them if found. The diseases on this list are exotic to Canada so no control or eradication programs are in place.

Anaplasmosis, blue tongue and West Nile virus are on this list.

The annually notifiable category includes diseases in Canada that are of concern to trading partners. Labs that find cases must report them annually to the CFIA.

The current list of six involves diseases in fish and mollusks.

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