The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a proposed rule to amend the import requirements for eggs from regions where Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is believed to exist. This does not include hatching eggs.
According to the APHIS, this proposed rule is necessary to provide a more efficient testing option for determining the END status of flocks producing eggs for export to the US. Parties who are interested may submit comments regarding this rule by 12 October.
There are currently two mechanisms in place in the US by which flocks in foreign regions where the disease is considered to exist can be found to be free of END and therefore approved for exportation to the US.
One method requires the placement of sentinel birds (at least 1 per 1,000 birds) at the rate of at least 30 sentinel birds per house. These birds must remain free of clinical and immunological evidence of END as demonstrated by tests performed by a salaried veterinary officer of the national government of the region of origin. The second method requires weekly testing of any carcasses of poultry from the flock in question that died in that week as well as other testing performed on at least 10% of live birds.
US officials, however, believe there are a number of problems with these two mechanisms. So, in order to reduce the compliance burden for exporters without compromising safety, APHIS is proposing to amend the import regulations to provide for the use of a statistically valid testing regime that would ensure the detection of infected birds in a timely and effective way while eliminating the need for potentially excessive testing.
Specifically, APHIS is proposing to replace the current options for flock testing with a requirement that at least one cull (sick or dead) bird for each 10,000 live birds occupying each poultry house certified for exporting table eggs be tested for the END virus at days seven and 14 of the 21-day period before the certificate is signed and tested using a virus isolation test at a laboratory approved by the veterinary services organisation of the national government of the region of origin. The tests must present no clinical or immunological evidence of END.
APHIS is also proposing to amend the import requirements for table eggs to require that the accompanying health certificate contain a specific additional certification that egg drop syndrome (EDS) is notifiable in the region of origin and that there have been no reports of EDS in the flocks of origin, or within a 50 kilometre radius of the flocks, for 90 days prior to export.