[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 87 (Thursday, May 7, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21312-21313]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-10630]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2009-0015]


Notice of Availability of an Evaluation of the Highly Pathogenic 
Avian Influenza Subtype H5N1 Status of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties in 
England

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 an evaluation of the animal health 
status of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, England, relative to the H5N1 
subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The evaluation 
presents our assessment of the HPAI H5N1 detection, control, and 
eradication measures in place in Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, England, 
during outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in 2007, as well as our assessment of the 
present status of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, England, with respect 
to HPAI subtype H5N1. We are making this evaluation 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 Suffolk and Norfolk Counties in 
England 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 Suffolk and Norfolk Counties in 
England presents a low risk of introducing HPAI H5N1 into the United 
States.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before June 
8, 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-2009-0015 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-2009-0015, 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-2009-0015.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
evaluation 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: Dr. Ingrid Kotowski, Import Risk 
Analyst, Regionalization Evaluation Services International, National 
Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 
200, Raleigh, NC 27606; (919) 855-7732.

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.

[[Page 21313]]

    In February 2007, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) reported to the 
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) the occurrence of HPAI H5N1 
in domestic poultry in Suffolk County, England, near the border with 
Norfolk County. Emergency response measures implemented by UK animal 
health authorities included establishing a restricted zone of control 
measures that encompassed parts of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties.
    In November 2007, a second outbreak of HPAI H5N1 was reported to 
have occurred in domestic poultry in Suffolk County. Animal health 
authorities in the UK again implemented emergency control measures to 
prevent the spread of HPAI H5N1 and eradicate it from the domestic 
poultry population. Additional surveillance revealed no evidence of 
subsequent cases of HPAI H5N1 in Suffolk or Norfolk County. 
Accordingly, the emergency measures were lifted on December 19, 2007. 
On May 12, 2008, the UK formally notified the OIE that the outbreak had 
been resolved.
    To prevent the introduction of HPAI H5N1 into the United States, 
APHIS added Suffolk and Norfolk Counties to the list of regions that 
APHIS considers to be affected with HPAI H5N1. This resulted in 
restriction on the importation of bird, poultry, and bird and poultry 
products into the United States from those two counties.
    In a document titled ``Evaluation of the Highly Pathogenic Avian 
Influenza H5N1 Status of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, England'' 
(January 2009), we present the results of our evaluation of the status 
of HPAI H5N1 in domestic poultry in Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, 
England, in light of the actions taken by UK authorities since the 
outbreaks, and document our analysis of the risk of HPAI H5N1 
introduction and spread in Suffolk and Norfolk Counties, England, and 
whether removing Suffolk and Norfolk Counties from the list of regions 
that APHIS considers to be affected with HPAI H5N1 would be 
appropriate.
    We based our evaluation of the HPAI H5N1 status of Suffolk and 
Norfolk Counties in England, on the following critical factors:
     Suffolk and Norfolk Counties have 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 reportable disease in the UK and an 
ongoing awareness program was in place;
     An effective surveillance program for HPAI that supported 
the detection and investigation of outbreaks was in place;
     All reported suspected or confirmed cases of avian 
influenza were investigated;
     The system for recording, managing, and analyzing 
diagnostic and surveillance data was sufficient to demonstrate the 
effectiveness of the UK's HPAI H5N1 control measures;
     Diagnostic and laboratory capabilities were effective, and 
testing procedures were documented and standardized;
     Eradication and control measures, including movement 
restrictions, were effectively implemented in response to outbreaks to 
prevent further spread of disease; and
     Procedures used for depopulation cleaning and disinfection 
of affected premises were documented and effective.
    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 evaluation concludes that the 
UK was able to effectively control and eradicate HPAI H5N1 in the 
domestic poultry population and that the UK authorities have adequate 
control measures in place to rapidly identify, control, and eradicate 
the disease should it be introduced into the UK's wild birds or 
domestic poultry population.
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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 evaluation 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 
Suffolk and Norfolk Counties in England 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 Suffolk 
and Norfolk Counties presents a low risk of introducing HPAI H5N1 into 
the United States.
    The evaluation 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 evaluation by calling or writing to the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to 
the title of the evaluation when requesting copies.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 1st day of May 2009.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E9-10630 Filed 5-6-09; 8:45 am]
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