Mike Stepien

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) submitted a dossier to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) detailing the actions taken to finalize a new African Swine Fever (ASF) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The United States has long kept ASF out of the country, and this action, coupled with our existing, comprehensive import restrictions and safeguards will further strengthen our ability to protect the U.S. swine herd given recent findings of the disease in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

This is the first foreign animal disease protection zone established by the United States. In order to declare a protection zone, the OIE requires the declaring country to address the measures being implemented to prevent the introduction or spread of disease within the zone, including the implementation of biosecurity and sanitary measures within the zone, as well as intensified movement control and surveillance. In its submission to the OIE, APHIS outlined existing measures in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including:

Training and awareness programs for producers, veterinarians, and the public;

  • Active surveillance for ASF in the United States and its territories;
  • Enhanced surveillance in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands;
  • Laboratory capacity in the United States and its territories; and
  • Examination of potential pathways of introduction of ASF into the United States.

Additionally, the dossier included information about the recent Federal Order suspending the interstate movement of all live swine, swine germplasm, swine products, and swine byproducts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland United States until APHIS can establish sufficient mitigations to authorize such movement.

ASF has not been detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the USDA is committed to preventing its introduction into the United States and its territories. APHIS is taking this action out of an abundance of caution to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd and protect the interests and livelihoods of U.S. pork producers.

The OIE permits the establishment of a protection zone within an area free of disease, as a temporary measure in response to an increased risk from a neighboring country or zone of different animal health status.

Now that the dossier has been submitted to the OIE to establish the protection zone, APHIS will work to confirm that individual countries recognize and accept the zone. APHIS is confident that its many existing preventive measures and mitigations, along with the protection zone, will protect our livestock industry from ASF and ensure the continued export of pork.


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