[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 1 (Friday, January 2, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69-70]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-31210]


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Notices
                                                Federal Register
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This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
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Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 1 / Friday, January 2, 2009 / 
Notices

[[Page 69]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0121]


Notice of Availability of Evaluations of the Highly Pathogenic 
Avian Influenza Subtype H5N1 Status of Germany and Poland

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has prepared evaluations of the animal health status 
of Germany and Poland relative to the H5N1 subtype of highly pathogenic 
avian influenza (HPAI). The evaluations present our evaluation of the 
HPAI H5N1 detection, control, and eradication measures in place in 
Germany and Poland during outbreaks of HPAI in 2006 and 2007, as well 
as our assessment of the present status of Germany and Poland with 
respect to HPAI subtype H5N1. We are making these evaluations available 
to the public for review and comment. If, after the close of the 
comment period, APHIS can identify no additional risk factors that 
would indicate that domestic poultry in Germany or Poland continue to 
be affected with HPAI H5N1, we would conclude that the importation of 
live birds, poultry carcasses, parts of carcasses, and eggs (other than 
hatching eggs) of poultry, game birds, or other birds from the affected 
regions of Germany and Poland presents a low risk of introducing HPAI 
H5N1 into the United States.

DATES: We will consider all comments we receive prior to February 2, 
2009.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/
main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS=2008=0121 to submit or view comments and 
to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of 
your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0121, Regulatory Analysis and 
Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to 
Docket No. APHIS-2008-0121.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
evaluations in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 
1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, 
SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to 
help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Javier Vargas, Animal Scientist, 
Regionalization Evaluation Services Staff, National Center for Import 
and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1231; (301) 734-0756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under the Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8301 et seq.), the 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has the authority to 
prohibit or restrict the importation into the United States of animals, 
animal products, and other articles in order to prevent the 
introduction of diseases and pests into the U.S. livestock and poultry 
populations.
    Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a zoonotic disease of 
poultry. The H5N1 subtype of HPAI is an extremely infectious and fatal 
form of the disease. HPAI can strike poultry quickly without any 
warning signs of infection and, once established, 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. The H5N1 subtype of HPAI 
has been of particular concern because it has crossed the species 
barrier and caused disease in humans.
    On April 6, 2006, the German Federal Ministry of Consumer 
Protection, Food, and Agriculture reported to the World Organization 
for Animal Health (OIE) an outbreak of HPAI H5N1 in domestic poultry in 
a turkey flock in the district of Muldental in the Federal State of 
Saxony. This was the only HPAI H5N1 outbreak to occur in domestic 
poultry in Germany during 2006.
    In 2007, Germany reported six outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in domestic 
poultry, four in small hobby farms and two outbreaks on large duck 
farms with 170,000 ducks on each farm. No additional reports of HPAI 
H5N1 in Germany in either domestic poultry or wild birds were made 
until October 9, 2008, when a small outbreak occurred in the district 
of G[ouml]rlitz in the Federal State of Saxony following the 
identification of HPAI H5N1 in a wild bird on a nearby lake.
    To prevent the introduction of HPAI H5N1 into the United States, 
APHIS designated Germany's districts of Muldental, Torgue-Oschatz, 
Dobeln, Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, Schwandorf, Neustradt A.D. Aisch, Bamberg, 
Kitzingen, Erlangen-Hochstadt, Oberhavel, Havelland, Ostprignitz-
Ruppin, Potsdam-Mittlemark, Uckermark, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prignitz, 
Jerichower Land, Gorlitz, and Bautzen as regions where HPAI was 
considered to exist and prohibited the importation of birds, poultry, 
and poultry products from these regions into the United States.
    In a document titled ``APHIS' Evaluation of the Status of High 
Pathogenicity Avian Influenza H5N1 (HPAI H5N1) in Germany'' (October 
2008), we present the results of our evaluation of the status of HPAI 
H5N1 in domestic poultry in Germany in light of the actions taken by 
German authorities since the outbreaks, and document our analysis of 
the risk associated with allowing the importation of birds, poultry, 
and poultry products from regions of

[[Page 70]]

Germany into the United States in the aftermath of the outbreaks.
    On December 1, 2007, Poland's General Veterinary Inspectorate 
reported an HPAI H5N1 outbreak in domestic poultry. This first outbreak 
was detected in broiler turkeys, and between December 1 and December 
22, 2007, Poland reported a total of 10 outbreaks to the OIE.
    To prevent the introduction of HPAI H5N1 into the United States, 
APHIS designated Poland's provinces of Warminsko-Mazurskie, Mazowiekie, 
and Kujawsko-Pomorskie as regions where HPAI was considered to exist, 
and prohibited the importation of birds, poultry, and poultry products 
from these provinces into the United States.
    In a document titled ``APHIS' Evaluation of the Status of High 
Pathogenicity Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus in Poland'' (October 2008), we 
present the results of our evaluation of the status of HPAI H5N1 in 
domestic poultry in Poland in light of the actions taken by Polish 
authorities since the outbreaks, and document our analysis of the risk 
associated with allowing importation of birds, poultry, and poultry 
products from Poland into the United States in the aftermath of the 
outbreaks.
    We based our evaluation of Germany's and Poland's HPAI H5N1 status 
on the following critical factors:
     Each region had been free of outbreaks of the H5N1 subtype 
in its domestic poultry for at least 3 months as a result of effective 
control measures taken by a competent veterinary infrastructure;
     HPAI H5N1 was a notifiable disease in each region at the 
time of the outbreak;
     Each region had an ongoing disease awareness program in 
place at the time of the outbreak;
     Each region investigated notified or suspected occurrences 
of the disease;
     Each region had an effective surveillance program in place 
that supported the detection and investigation of outbreaks;
     Diagnostic and laboratory capabilities within each region 
were both adequate and effective;
     Each region undertook appropriate eradication and control 
measures and movement restrictions in response to the outbreaks to 
prevent further spread of disease; and
     In each region, procedures used for repopulation of 
affected premises included monitoring to demonstrate that HPAI H5N1 had 
been eradicated from the premises.
    Based on these factors, which are consistent with the OIE's 
recommendations for reinstatement for trade with a country that has 
experienced an HPAI H5N1 outbreak,\1\ our evaluations conclude that the 
German Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture 
and Poland's General Veterinary Inspectorate were able to effectively 
control and eradicate HPAI H5N1 in their respective domestic poultry 
populations and that the German and Polish authorities have adequate 
control measures in place to rapidly identify, control, and eradicate 
the disease should it be reintroduced into their respective countries 
in either wild birds or domestic poultry.
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    \1\ OIE (2008). Risk Analysis. In, Terrestrial Animal Health 
Code, 17th edition. Paris, World Organization for Animal Health: 
Chapter 2.2 on Import Risk Analysis; Chapter 10.4 on Avian 
Influenza. To view the document on the Internet, go to http://
www.oie.int/eng/normes/mcode/A_summry.htm?e1d11.
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    We are making the evaluations available for public comment. We will 
consider all comments that we receive on or before the date listed 
under the heading DATES at the beginning of this notice.
    If, after the close of the comment period, APHIS can identify no 
additional risk factors that would indicate that domestic poultry in 
regions of Germany or Poland continue to be affected with HPAI H5N1, we 
would conclude that the importation of live birds, poultry carcasses, 
parts of carcasses, and eggs (other than hatching eggs) of poultry, 
game birds, or other birds from regions of Germany and Poland presents 
a low risk of introducing HPAI H5N1 into the United States.
    For Germany, we expect we would lift the restrictions we imposed in 
response to the 2006 and 2007 outbreaks and maintain the restrictions 
we imposed in response to the October 2008 outbreak until the European 
Commission lifts the restrictions, at which point we would reevaluate 
the HPAI H5N1 status of the district of G[ouml]rlitz in Saxony.
    The evaluations may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site or in 
our reading room (see ADDRESSES above for a link to Regulations.gov and 
information on the location and hours of the reading room). You may 
request paper copies of the evaluations by calling or writing to the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to 
the titles of the evaluations when requesting copies.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 22nd day of December 2008.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E8-31210 Filed 12-31-08; 8:45 am]
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