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Mexico, U.S. reaffirm commitment to prevent exotic animal diseases

Creation of the CPA was one of the main triggers for the construction of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

January 17, 2024

3 Min Read
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More than seven decades after the establishment of the Mexico-United States Commission for the Prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease and other Exotic Animal Diseases (CPA), the governments of Mexico and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining their technical-scientific partnership, in order to reduce the risk of entry and spread of pests and diseases that could put livestock farming in the North American region at risk.

Within the framework of the presentation of the book “History of the CPA, 75 years after its creation”, the general director of Animal Health of the National Agri-Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, Juan Gay Gutiérrez, highlighted that the commission represents the joint effort of two countries that protect their productive activities to guarantee food supply for their populations.

He stated that almost eight decades ago Mexico was a completely different country than today, with a productive system based on the plowing of the land by teams, machinery was not used in the field, even though producers from other countries in the region were already using it. world.

In this context, the official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease in 1946 put the livelihood of millions of families at risk, so the federal government, with the support of the health authority of the United States, implemented a strategy based on two axes: vaccination and sacrifice.

He highlighted that in 1947, both health services managed, in just three months, to visit hundreds of rural communities in 16 states of the Mexican Republic and contained the advance of the disease until eradication was achieved in 1954.

Gay Gutiérrez indicated that that group of veterinarians who founded the CPA faced a large number of vicissitudes, however, their work and determination forged the seedbed of Mexican veterinary medicine, which is currently one of the most recognized worldwide. 

The former co-directors of the CPA, Cristóbal Zepeda and Peter Fernández, participated in the event, who shared their experience leading the commission during the 90s and 2000s, a period in which Mexico successfully faced health emergencies, such as viral hemorrhagic fever of rabbits, screwworm and classical swine fever.

The Regional Manager for North America of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Cristóbal Zepeda, pointed out that in the 90s, when he started working at the CPA , Mexico faced outbreaks of Venezuelan equine encephalitis and highly pathogenic avian influenza, which were resolved by the great diagnostic capacity of the two countries and the structured emergency plans.

APHIS-USDA advisor, Peter Fernández, highlighted that the creation of the CPA was one of the main triggers for the construction of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, New York, which is twinned with the Senasica laboratories located in Palo Alto, Mexico City.

It is important to note that the creation of the CPA has been accompanied by the development of infrastructure to face health emergencies.

In 1947, the institute for the production of vaccines and foot-and-mouth disease research was created, which gave rise to the Livestock Research Center, which is currently part of the National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Livestock Research.

Likewise, in the 1970s, the Government of Mexico created the National Producer of Veterinary Biologicals, in response to an outbreak of Venezuelan equine encephalitis that began in South America and spread to the southern border of Mexico.

In 2019, the Laboratory of Immunology, Molecular and Cellular Biology was inaugurated, which supports emergency work and in 2022, on the 75th anniversary of the Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture established the National Reference Center for the Diagnosis and Research of Diseases Exotic and Emerging Animals.

During the event, organized with the support of the Mexican Veterinary Academy and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a posthumous tribute was paid to the director of the CPA, Roberto Navarro López, for his work at the head of the organization for the last five years.

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