Animal health agencies extend flu vaccination information collaboration

Two international animal health agencies agreed on Monday to extend a partnership with the WHO that allows public health officials to determine which vaccinations will be most effective in preventing animal influenza in humans.

Terms of the agreement, which was signed Monday in Paris, call for the World Organization for Animal Health, also referred to as OIE, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to extend their current partnership with the WHO through December 2015.

OIE and FAO will help the WHO facilitate its humane influenza virus selection process by maintaining a global database on animal health and collecting virus samples.

OFFLU, a global network that tracks and records various strains of animal influenza, is managed by OIE and FAO. OFFLU shares animal influenza data with the WHO in an effort to select the most suitable virus strains for human vaccines.

The partnership has helped prevent animal influenza pandemics in human populations since it was first signed in January 2011.

Since its inception, OFFLU has focused on gathering avian influenza virus and samples collected by OIE and FAO reference centers. The WHO used the data as a foundation for its pre-pandemic preparedness efforts and to understand the gravity of health risks that could result from the virus in populations around the world.