WASHINGTON — As part of its continuing efforts to respond to the detection of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Dominican Republic (DR) and prevent its introduction into the Conterminous United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is preparing to establish a Foreign Animal Disease protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. ASF has not been detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and USDA is committed to keeping it out of both islands and the rest of the United States. Out of an abundance of caution, APHIS is taking this additional action to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd and protect the interests and livelihoods of U.S. pork producers.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) provides for 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. APHIS has concluded that this is a prudent course of action in response to the detection of ASF in the DR. Once the OIE recognizes the protection zone(s), APHIS will work to confirm that individual countries recognize and accept the zone(s). Their recognition will ensure the continued flow of U.S. pork and live swine exports.
When the protection zone is established, APHIS will have processes in place in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to: restrict movement of live swine and products out of the protection zone; conduct appropriate surveillance within the protection zone to quickly detect introductions of disease; conduct a public education campaign relating to biosecurity on farms and other establishments, prohibitions on movement of live swine and products outside the region, contacting authorities to report clinical cases, and similar actions.
APHIS has been actively working with DR officials to assist in their response to the ASF detection, including: offering technical advice and assistance on surveillance, quarantine, depopulation, and disposal methods; providing continued testing support, including bolstering in-country testing capacity; and providing additional personal protective equipment for responders. Although ASF has not been confirmed in Haiti, APHIS is offering the country similar support.
APHIS is confident that its many existing preventive measures and mitigations, along with the additional measures underway and announced today, will protect our livestock industry from ASF and ensure the continued export of pork.
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