[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 138 (Wednesday, July 20, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41608-41610]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-14262]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 93, 94, and 95

[Docket No. 04-011-3]


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza; Additional Restrictions

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are adopting as a final rule, without change, an interim 
rule that amended the regulations concerning the importation of animals 
and animal products to prohibit or restrict the importation of birds, 
poultry, and unprocessed birds and poultry products from regions that 
have reported the presence of the H5N1 subtype of highly pathogenic 
avian influenza and to establish additional permit and quarantine 
requirements for U.S. origin pet birds and performing or theatrical 
birds and poultry returning to the United States. The interim rule was 
necessary to prevent the introduction of highly pathogenic avian 
influenza subtype H5N1 into the United States.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The interim rule became effective on February 4, 2004.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Karen A. James-Preston, Director, 
National Center for Import and Export, Technical Trade Services, VS, 
APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-
8172.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Avian influenza (AI) is a disease that can cause varying degrees of 
clinical illness in poultry. AI viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, 
pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl, as well as a wide 
variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl have proved to be the 
natural reservoir for this disease. AI viruses can be classified into 
low pathogenic (LPAI) and highly pathogenic (HPAI) forms based on the 
severity of the illness they cause. Most AI virus strains are LPAI and 
typically cause little or no clinical signs in infected birds. However, 
some LPAI virus strains are capable of mutating under field conditions 
into HPAI viruses, which are extremely infectious and fatal for 
chickens. HPAI can strike poultry quickly without any infection warning 
signs and, once established, the disease can spread rapidly from flock 
to flock. HPAI viruses can also be spread by manure, equipment, 
vehicles, egg flats, crates, and people whose clothing or shoes have 
come in contact with the virus. HPAI viruses can remain viable at 
moderate temperatures for long periods in the environment and can 
survive indefinitely in frozen material. In some instances, HPAI may 
even be transmitted to humans, with human infections of AI viruses on 
the rise in recent years.
    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the 
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA or the Department) 
regulates the importation of animals and animal products into the 
United States to guard against the introduction of animal diseases such 
as AI. The regulations in 9 CFR parts 93, 94, and 95 (referred to below 
as the regulations) govern the importation of certain animals, birds, 
poultry, meat, other animal products and byproducts, hay, and straw 
into the United States in order to prevent the introduction of various 
animal diseases, including AI.
    In an interim rule effective February 4, 2004, and published in the 
Federal Register on May 10, 2004 (69 FR 25820-25826, Docket No. 04-011-
1), we amended the regulations to require that all pet birds and 
performing and theatrical birds and poultry of United States origin be 
subject to a 30-day quarantine at a USDA facility when they have spent 
any length of time in a

[[Page 41609]]

region reporting incidents of HPAI subtype H5N1 and to require that 
U.S. origin birds returning from any such region be accompanied by a 
permit. The interim rule also added new restrictions on the importation 
of unprocessed \1\ bird and poultry carcasses, parts, and products, to 
allow such products from regions where HPAI subtype H5N1 is considered 
to exist only when accompanied by an import permit and only if they are 
research or educational materials destined for a museum or an 
educational or research institution. In the interim rule we also 
provided that products and byproducts of birds and poultry, including 
feathers, birds' nests, and bird trophies may be imported from areas 
where HPAI subtype H5N1 exists only when accompanied by a permit and 
authorized by the Administrator. Finally, we added a list of regions 
(Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, and 
Vietnam) where HPAI subtype H5N1 is considered to exist.
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    \1\ In the rule portion of the interim rule we mistakenly 
omitted the word ``unprocessed,'' thereby holding both processed and 
unprocessed bird and poultry products to these restrictions. On June 
23, 2005, we published a technical amendment in the Federal Register 
(69 FR 25820-25826, Docket No. 04-011-2) in which we amended Sec.  
94.6, paragraph (e), to correct this omission.
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    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before July 9, 2004. We received one comment by that date, from a 
private citizen. The issues raised by this commenter regarding the 
interim rule are discussed below.
    The commenter suggested that APHIS should ban the importation into 
the United States of all types of birds. The commenter also stated that 
the 30-day home quarantine for pet birds and theatrical and performing 
birds and poultry was not effective because bird owners are not 
qualified to determine the disease status of their birds. The commenter 
therefore recommended discontinuing the practice of home quarantines, 
instead quarantining animals in specialized facilities for a minimum of 
60 days. The commenter also recommended transferring veterinary 
inspection functions to epidemiologists and medical doctors. We do not 
believe the commenter's suggestion that we completely ban the 
importation of birds into the United States is needed to prevent the 
introduction of diseases such as avian influenza. We would also like to 
point out that home quarantine is not available for high-risk birds 
such as those returning from an H5N1 region; such high-risk birds are 
required to go to a USDA quarantine facility for a minimum of 30 days, 
which is a sufficient amount of time for any clinical signs of disease 
to appear. We also believe that it is most appropriate for a 
veterinarian to conduct inspections, given that they have animal health 
expertise that epidemiologists and medical doctors do not necessarily 
have.
    The commenter expressed concern with the requirement that a 
notarized statement be signed by any bird owner that their bird has not 
been in contact with other poultry or birds while overseas for more 
than 60 days in any region other than one listed as a region where HPAI 
subtype H5N1 exists. The commenter stated that a notarized statement is 
not a good indicator of the bird's health because it would be easy to 
lie in such a statement. While it is possible for a bird owner to lie 
in a notarized statement, there are criminal and civil penalties that 
APHIS may pursue should a bird owner be found to have made a false 
statement. These penalties serve as a deterrent to bird owners 
providing false information in their notarized statements. Finally, we 
note that in addition to the notarized statement, the regulations also 
require that the birds undergo a port of entry veterinary inspection; 
be accompanied by a United States veterinary health certificate issued 
prior to the bird's departure from the United States containing an 
identification number which must match the number on the bird's leg 
band, tattoo, or microchip; and complete a 30-day home quarantine 
during which the bird is to be made available for health inspection and 
testing by Department inspectors upon request.
    The commenter was also concerned that theatrical and performing 
animals would be allowed to enter the United States without a mandatory 
quarantine period. As stated in the interim rule, theatrical or 
performing birds of United States origin that have been in a region 
where HPAI subtype H5N1 exists are subject to a minimum 30-day 
quarantine in a USDA quarantine facility upon their return to the 
United States. Performing or theatrical birds returning from all other 
regions must undergo a 30-day home quarantine upon return to the United 
States.
    The commenter also recommended that nests, carcasses, bird 
trophies, bird parts, or bird products be prohibited from importation 
into the United States from any region where HPAI subtype H5N1 exists. 
As stated in the interim rule, carcasses, and parts or products of 
carcasses, of poultry, game birds, or other birds may be imported into 
the United States from regions where HPAI subtype H5N1 is known to 
exist only if they are imported for scientific, educational, or 
research purposes and only if the Administrator has determined they can 
be imported under conditions which will prevent the introduction of 
HPAI subtype H5N1 into the United States. We believe this is sufficient 
to prevent the spread of HPAI subtype H5N1 to the United States.
    Therefore, for the reasons given in the interim rule, we are 
adopting the interim rule, as amended by the June 23, 2005 technical 
amendment, as a final rule without change.
    This action also affirms the information contained in the interim 
rule concerning Executive Order 12866 and the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, Executive Order 12988, and the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Further, this action has been determined to be not significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been 
reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

List of Subjects

9 CFR Part 93

    Animal diseases, Imports, Livestock, Poultry and poultry products, 
Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

9 CFR Part 94

    Animal diseases, Imports, Livestock, Meat and meat products, Milk, 
Poultry and poultry products, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

9 CFR Part 95

    Animal feeds, Hay, Imports, Livestock, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Straw, Transportation.

PART 93--IMPORTATION OF CERTAIN ANIMALS, BIRDS, AND POULTRY, AND 
CERTAIN ANIMAL, BIRD, AND POULTRY PRODUCTS; REQUIREMENTS FOR MEANS 
OF CONVEYANCE AND SHIPPING CONTAINERS

PART 94--RINDERPEST, FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE, FOWL PEST (FOWL 
PLAGUE), EXOTIC NEWCASTLE DISEASE, AFRICAN SWINE FEVER, CLASSICAL 
SWINE FEVER, AND BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY: PROHIBITED AND 
RESTRICTED IMPORTATIONS

[[Page 41610]]

PART 95--SANITARY CONTROL OF ANIMAL BYPRODUCTS (EXCEPT CASINGS), 
AND HAY AND STRAW, OFFERED FOR ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES

0
Accordingly, the interim rule amending 9 CFR parts 93, 94 and 95 that 
was published at 69 FR 25820-25826 on May 10, 2004, as amended by the 
June 23, 2005, technical amendment that was published at 70 FR 36332-
36333, is adopted as a final rule without change.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 14th day of July 2005 .
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 05-14262 Filed 7-19-05; 8:45 am]
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