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APHIS Proposal Would Seek to Preserve Trade Amid Animal Disease Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service is proposing criteria to evaluate and recognise livestock “compartments” in other countries. Compartmentalisation allows animal health officials to protect against disease spread while supporting continued trade. According to APHIS, this action is being taken consistent with World Organisation for Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Code standards.

APHIS indicates that when a foreign government submits a request for recognition of a compartment, it would conduct a disease risk assessment based on a list of eight factors that closely parallel those used by the agency when conducting regionalisation evaluations. Additionally, the agency would provide for public notice of and comment on the risk assessment and add provisions for imposing import restrictions and/or prohibitions when a compartment it has recognised as disease-free experiences an outbreak as well as for lifting those sanctions once the outbreak has been controlled.

According to APHIS, compartmentalisation allows a country to define and manage animal sub-populations of distinct health status and under common biosecurity management within its territory. It is distinct from regionalisation, which involves the recognition of geographical zones of a country that can be identified and characterised by their level of risk for different diseases. Using information provided by the government of the requesting country or region, information obtained on site visits and publicly available information, APHIS would base the evaluations on the assessment of the following factors:

  • scope of evaluation requested;
  • veterinary control and oversight of the compartment;
  • disease history and vaccination practices;
  • livestock or poultry commodity movement and traceability;
  • epidemiologic separation of the compartment from potential sources of infection;
  • disease surveillance;
  • diagnostic laboratory capabilities; and
  • emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

The livestock or poultry within a compartment would have to be managed using consistent, strict biosecurity and health practices, and be kept separate from other populations of animals. This information, along with site visits from APHIS animal health experts, would allow APHIS to determine whether the animals within the compartment are managed in a way that keeps them distinct and separate from other animal populations within the country.

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