The international early warning system for animal disease outbreaks is scheduled for a full overhaul within 1 year, a change the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE, for Office International des Epizooties) will discuss this week.

The OIE now divides diseases into List A and List B. List A includes foot and mouth disease, while List B includes diseases such as anthrax or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"The intention was to give a degree of urgency to List A diseases, because of their rapid spread and significant economic importance. Countries had to report an occurrence on those diseases very rapidly. List B were either less important economically or had slower degrees of spread," Alex Thiermann, president of the OIE code commission responsible for setting animal health standards, told The Scientist. "With time, the system was misinterpreted that diseases on List A were more important than List B," he...

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